The Top Takeaways From Our Members-Only Future of Retail Panel at The Jane Club

Photos: David Coe

On the heels of bankruptcy filings by luxury and fast fashion retailers like Barneys New York and Forever 21, we recently took over the Jane Club on Tuesday, September 10 for a members-only discussion on the future of retail. Moderated by Fashion Mamas founder Natalie Alcala, the panel featured insights from L.A. members including Akid founder Ashleigh Dempster, Floravere co-founder Molly Kang, and Anita Gatto and Sarah Ivory of experiential marketing agency Self Employed.

Before soaking up insights and discussing their own experiences in brick-and-mortar and online retail, attendees enjoyed a charcuterie and cheese board by Moodboard LA and sips by Boxed Water.

“Innovations are playing a big role in retail today,” Gatto explained. Read on below for just a few of the top takeaways from our insider-led panel and scroll through the gallery above for a peek inside our insightful chat.

On doing retail differently as a digitally-native brand: “When we first started doing retail and popping up, we partnered with hotels [which love] wedding businesses,” said Kang. “We’d take up residency in these suits and those were our pop-up stores. [That’s how] we expanded to nine cities within eight or nine months. It’s a really real estate-light model, it’s super capital-efficient, you can scale up and down with demand. The inspiration came from our customer [who said], ‘I love how intimate it is.’”

On the recent bankruptcy filings: “You have to look at those filing bankruptcy filings holistically,” says Ivory. “It’s not like they’re filing bankruptcy because retail is dying; they’re businesses. Especially for Barneys, it has a lot to do with how [businesses are] structured and how it’s been operated and managed for the last few years; it might be the same for Forever 21. It’s not necessarily a direct indication of whether people are shopping in store or online,” Ivory.

On sustainability: “If you’re not thinking about sustainability, you’re not in the future,” Gatto says.

On experiential retail: “There needs to be a lot of thought put into that too. There’s so much clutter; you’re being sold so much [already],” such as via ads on Instagram, says Dempster. “Not a lot of it is actually authentic and thoughtful,” and it all feels like “junk food.”

On targeting Gen Z: “Nevermind millennials, we’re old news,” says Gatto. “Gen Z was born with an iPhone in their hand and not a silver spoon. They don’t buy into advertising [or want to see ads] on Instagram. They want to be content creators. [You can’t have] activations that mean nothing. You have to sell something, stand for something.”

On traditional cash registers: “We never have cash registers in our stores; they’re mostly cashless,” says Ivory. “Going up to a cash desk to check out is old-school.”

On what heritage brands need to think about: “That brand strategy piece, even with a heritage brand, needs to be asked over and over,” says Gatto. “Whether it’s where [and] who you should be partnering with, where should you be showing up, what is the campaign around it, how does it live online, does the online story tell the same story as [in] the pop-up store. If you’re not staying true to who you are, you’re not going to innovate. Thinking about where you started will ultimately get you forward [and] bring in fresh talent and perspective.”

The Jane Club
429 North Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028