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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Fashion Stores: The Things You Should Know

Seeing as this is my third piece for Salient, I feel it’s only appropriate that I reveal a little somethin’ somethin’ about myself. The way I see it, this not only builds our reader/writer relationship (if you comment online, we can be best friends), but it also ties in nicely with my fashion column slash rant topic this week.

For those who don’t know me, I have the pleasure of working in a beautiful clothing store in the city. For obvious reasons (namely my fear of harassment after the release of this article) I will refrain from stating which one. But through my vocation as a ‘fashion consultant’ (just let me glorify my lowly shop assistant position this one time), it has come to my attention that the level of store etiquette has somewhat decreased.

The fact of the matter is, there are particular codes of conduct that are acceptable in fashion stores and there are only two times in which these rules do not apply: when the store is on fire, and sale time. Over the last few weeks I have noticed some questionable behaviour in the store which I feel should be shared and discussed.

Firstly, some people feel that boutique stores emit a kind of intimidating snobbery. But let’s be honest, the New Zealand fashion industry is too small and comparatively insignificant for shop assistants to assert a ‘better than you’ prerogative. It is my theory that often shoppers think they need to embody a kind of high-class nonchalance in order to ‘fit in’ the store (whatever that means).

Well let me tell you, when a shop assistant greets you with a “Hello”, it’s not necessary to look them up and down, grunt a half-arsed reply, or ignore them completely. We truly prefer the over-enthusiastic, “heeeeeys!” to the pursed lipped eyebrow raises.

Not only do we enjoy a friendly reply, we also really enjoy helping you out. For reals, big boy. Most shop assistants have a vested interest in fashion so we take extreme pleasure in discussing the clothes with you, or helping you find something you look good in (an ambition slightly on the trivial side, I know).

What this means is that when we attempt to engage you in a conversation, i.e. “Isn’t that a beautiful colour?” or “have you seen anything you like?” We are in our zone, doing our thang, and not just trying to frighten you or force you to purchase something . Yet, people snap back with “No!… I’m fine,” which we all know translates into “Eff off! You can’t have my money.”

Lastly, a little tip to make sure you are not detested universally by all shop assistants. In my humble opinion it is not kosher to flock into the store two minutes before it closes (I know you know it’s about to close because I see you looking at the opening hours on the door before you waltz on in) and mess up the entire store with no consideration of the perfectly spaced racks, ask for every size and every colour, and then leave without buying a thing! Kill me now!

The majority of shoppers know better than to do this, but believe it or not, some people do engage in last minute store mess ups. It’s the bane of my existence. That and people who sniff loudly in exams with incredible regularity.

Just a quick disclaimer: generally people are fabulous instore and it is an absolute pleasure serving them. Just remember, we don’t think we’re better than you—unless you come in wearing crocs, which probably won’t happen since the company has shut down (there is a God)—and we really do enjoy chatting to you, especially when we’re not about to close the store.


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  1. Mavalover says:

    Can we be best friends?

  2. Misagh says:

    “Most shop assistants have a vested interest in fashion”

    This is probably not true in the general sense of word, or maybe it is in New Zealand but genrally most shop assistants have a vested interest in their paycheck!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oi I think Im guilty of This sniffing buisness in exams…and sadly the half assed grunt, cos im too shy to chat!

  4. Mava says:

    Mavalover: Yes, yes we definitely can.

    Misagh: True. We can’t forget the monetary imperative but our paychecks are often feed back into the industry haha. Also, getting a job at a boutique store often requires past retail experience, commitment to a high level of customer service, and at the very least a basic appreciation of NZ fashion. Consequently, the staff almost always have some interest in fashion.

    Anon: We live and we learn. Don’t be shy, come and chat!

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