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Bluetique is located on 19 West State Street in Athens. (ERIKA ROBERTS | FILE)

Local boutiques turn to social media to fill the racks

Social media seems to not only decide the most delectable burger in the neighborhood, but also what to wear to the most sought after party on the weekend. Whether it’s the dependable loafers or the chic leather boots, as the proverbial fashion blogger’s Instagram changes shades so do the avenues of humble Athens.

Over the past century, however, it seems that the medium of communication of what’s hot and what’s not had a major alteration. With the Kardashians calling social media the new “focus group,” the eclectic blend of boutiques on campus has seen a surge in its utilization of social media to keep a check on the couture displayed on the racks. 

“We look at social media, as well as other boutiques, just to see what kind of clothes they are selling and what kind of clothing is successful for their store,” Julia Sweterlitsch, a sales associate at Bluetique, said. “Obviously, we think what’s on social media is cute too, and we think that’s what’s going to sell.” 

Owners of local boutiques like Figleaf and Bluetique turn to staffers in deciding items for the stores.

“Lynne (owner of Figleaf) is really good at asking our opinions,” Lauren Osborn, a sales associate at Figleaf, said. “She’ll ask us, ‘What do you want in the store? What do you think other college people are going to want in the store?’ ” 

Osborn, a junior studying retail merchandising and fashion product development, said most of the sales associates are college students who are influenced by the trends on social media and indirectly bring the online trends to the sales floor.  

“My manager Marissa does most of that,” Sweterlitsch, a senior studying psychology, said, referring to who decides what the store will sell. “But when she goes through the catalogue to pick the stuff that she wants the store to have, it’s usually based off of what we think about what the population of Athens would like and social media.” 

Though some look at social media and staffers’ opinions in filling the racks, others rely on intuition to be in vogue. 

“I just select them myself,” Amy Mangano, the owner of the Artifacts store, said. “I go to trade shows. I go to the Javits Center in New York City. They have different trade shows there. Thousands of vendors come together to sell in one big large marketplace, and that’s where I pick out my clothes.” 

Mangano said she attends the Javits Fashion trade event twice a year to order clothing for her boutique. She added that social media does have an influence on the curation process, but more often she relies on her own judgements. 

“I have a good eye I think,” Mangano said. “I don’t know when it will end for me, but at some point my eye will not be relevant to younger people. I think I am still pretty on top of things.” 

Instead of relying on fashion bloggers to decide the next trend, Mangano said she trusts her instincts in finding inspiration from popular movies and TV shows. Mangano believes reliance on social media is a trivial part of the entire curatorial ordeal, but students like Jordyn Bryant think differently. 

“I think (social media is) extremely important,” Bryant, a junior studying retail merchandising and fashion product development, said. “I mean, it’s all connected. I see something on Instagram that I like, and then I try to find it on Pinterest, which connects me to the website I can buy it from. It’s almost like a game of connect the dots.” 


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