The PG team is constantly on the road. Each week, we visit dozens of workshops, factories and stores all around the globe for our editorial content and for different books projects dedicated to men’s elegance.
Almost everywhere, without fault, we hear the same story : shop owners the world over, whether large or small, mono or multi-brand, are complaining about how hard it is to find good associates to work with at their retail locations.
What is more troubling is how the words used by the sector professionals to describe a “workforce shortage” have completely changed over the years. Not long ago, complaints centered around the difficulty in finding qualified personnel – or professionals with significant experience in the industry. Yet these days, semantics and expectations have shifted, and the focus is now on the quest to find educated and passionate people.
We feel its time to take initiative on the issue since we are hearing this same tune everywhere we go – with brands and stores asking us if we can help them find the “one-in-a-million” candidate(s).
We believe the workforce quality problem in the industry stems from the difficulty of the trade to keep up with how suddenly the sartorial world (and indeed the customer base) have changed in the past decade or two. To be more specific, while industry professionals complain about the trouble to find good salespeople to work in their stores, customers also complain about poor experiences with a salesforce who knows very little about men’s style. We’ve lost count of how many times our readers told us they have the impression of knowing more about the fundamentals of men’s style than most salespeople they meet, even in the most prestigious mono-brand stores.
Secondly : there is a genuine image problem for people who work in the trade. Whether we like it or not, the perception of the professional “sales associate” is largely underestimated, and suffers from disastrous stereotype projections (e.g., shoe salesman, clothes salesman or “working retail”) which die hard, making it hard to attract young talent, however passionate they might be.
Third : recruitment professionals (even recruitment agencies) specializing in the “luxury market” are often severely lagging behind the times, and rely on dated recruitment methods incompatible with our fast-changing world. Try sending your resume to a specialized recruitment firm if you are below 25 years old, and without a higher education degree. Then try explaining that you are, in fact, a truly passionate candidate who can tell a genuine Neapolitan shoulder from a fake, and that you studied the work of Flusser, Boyer and Sherwood in depth, and see the results.
And yet there are also counter-examples which show today’s “successful stores and brands” in men’s style have one important thing in common : success is driven by owners and employees with authentic passion and sartorial knowledge.
We go to the stores that “get it right” not only to see the great garments on display, but also to have a chat with the people who work there. In Paris, such stores include Howard’s, Marc Guyot, Husbands, Scavini and Jean-Manuel Moreau. You can experience a similar encounter on a larger scale at The Armoury in Hong Kong or New York, or more recently, at the Leatherfoot Emporium in Toronto. These are places where you, as a costumer, are certain to be well understood by the employees, whatever their seniority – because the entire work force is comprised of true, passionate connoisseurs whom take pride in their work.
The stereotypical, shady, dressed-like-your-grandpa “retail salesmen” are relics from the past. On the contrary, Frédéric Costa (Howard’s) , Marc Guyot, Nicolas Pinheiro (JM Moreau), are all well known for their elegant personal style. Takahiro Osaki (“Taka”), the main salesman at the small Antonio Liverano atelier in Florence, Italy, is known throughout the world for his discreet natural elegance. The same air of elegance is presented by many of the collaborators at The Armoury or B&Tailor in Korea who became, for many young gentlemen, an inspiration with employees who serve as references of how to dress well.
In the world of e-Stores, it is also possible to find owners and employees whom are knowledgeable and present themselves as aficionados of style. The success of many young entrepreneurs like Lanieri in Italy, for instance, is at least partly due to their employees’ passion, as well as to their almost obsessive knowledge of the codes of men’s style.
At PG, we are in contact with most all of the major players in the industry on a regular basis, including brands, manufacturers, retailers, and of course, the customers – and we can testify that many houses the world over, including some highly prestigious names, are actively seeking passionate collaborators who are educated in all things sartorials, whatever their age.
It’s high time that we, as an industry, do something about this so-called “workforce shortage”. Working in a place dedicated to men’s style can be a magnificent thing. There is something noble about helping men in their quest for personal elegance, and guiding them, if they so desire, to dress according to their specific needs.
As observers of the industry at PG, we have a 360 degree vantage point on these problematics. And so today, we’d like to launch an initiative to help resolve these issues.
If you are (truly) passionate about men’s style – if working in a place dedicated to this universe is your goal, if going to work every day dressed über-elegant is your dream, if you know your Flusser / Boyer / Sherwood / Antongiavanni inside-out, and if you don’t know who to send your resume and application letter to, then write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our goal is simple : we wish to create a small “PG database” of passionate and highly motivated individuals interested in working in the men’s style industry, and put them in contact, if the occasion presents itself, to any companies, small shops or vast retail stores looking for collaborators.
Of course, our intention is not to replace professional recruitment firms with this small initiative, much less to become headhunters. Yet, if we can contribute on our scale, and put a few dozen or hundred passionate individuals in touch with the companies that may seek them, then we will be content. This is part of the spirit of Parisian Gentleman.