Roopal Patel is a fashion magnate who’s more than dipped her toes in both retail and editorial. With past positions at spots like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Style.com and Moda Operandi, Patel’s experience set the stage for her fashion consulting business (where she uses her know-how to advise brands, and create new initiatives in the industry). We chatted with Patel on how food plays into retail, her preferences when it comes to online vs. on-foot shopping and of course what ‘the new potato’ is right now…
From start to finish what would be your ideal food day?
My ideal food day would be a mix of some of my favorite meals…
For breakfast, I would start the day with a homemade green juice in my Vitamix, or if i have a work breakfast, a bowl of granola, yogurt and berries to start the day. The Smile and Mercer Kitchen are two of my favorite morning meeting spots.
For lunch, I am a huge fan of Jack’s Wife Freda. I would start with the grilled haloumi and then a greek salad with grilled chicken. For a afternoon pick-me-up, a quick stop at City Bakery for a peanut butter cookie and caffe latte or a mint chip cone from a Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck (Such an indulgence but needed). For dinner, a rib eye steak with creamed spinach at St. Anselm in Williamsburg.
Your personal style in three words…
Colorful, fun and flirty.
What’s an item every woman should own?
A great pair of shoes! They say a lot about a woman.
Does food and hospitality play into retail? How so?
Of course it does. Retail is part of the service industry just like food and hospitality. It is all about the experience. “Ladies who lunch” was coined for the ladies who would shop and lunch together. They would make a day of it. Shopping, food and hospitality all go together. Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus all have incredible food and service. It only enhances the shopping experience.
How has retail changed since you started?
The retail industry has changed so much, especially with the online e-commerce world making the traditional shopping experience more global. Designer brands were more exclusive and limited in their distribution, not like today.
Advice you give to brands trying to enhance their digital presence…
These days everyone has to have a digital presence. It is key in building your business. Do your research before launching your site and social media outlets. It’s important to be strategic about your business online. I always tell my clients, it is another window into your brand and world. Think of it as a separate business.
Advice you give to brands that want to open a store for the first time…
It is important to treat a retail store as a separate business and not as an extension of your current business. It has different needs than a wholesale business and should be planned accordingly. Having your own store is the ultimate! Use it as a creative playground to test new ideas and concepts.
What do you think e-commerce/online shopping does to retail, stores, departments stores etc.?
They compliment the retail store experience. It makes fashion so much more accessible to a bigger audience. It also is such a great tool. A customer can research and window shop before they get to the store, or have the item sent directly from the store. It makes the whole retail experience more full service.
Do you prefer online or in-store shopping?
I love the whole in-store shopping experience and getting seduced and romanced by the retailers vision – stepping into someone’s dream. Dover Street Market and Bergdorf Goodman always showcase fashion through a unique lens. They use fashion to create stories and let the customer experience it. I love that part of shopping.
Advice to women getting up, looking in the mirror and getting dressed…
Always go with your gut on what you feel like wearing that day. There is nothing worse than trying to “make” or “force” a look to happen. My rule is if I have to think about it for more than five minutes, it is coming off!
The best thing a fashion brand can do is X, and the worst thing it can do is Y…
The best thing a fashion brand can do is be very clear on what its brand and signature is, and the worst thing it can do is keep changing the vision for the brand. It is like an identity crisis! Know who you are.
What’s always in your bag?
Kiehl’s Lip Balm, my Celine wallet, Keys, iPhone and Early Bird bars just in case!
What three items are always on your desk?
A black notebook, Pilot black ink pens, and a mini Ganesh statue (remover of all obstacles).
What are you favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
In London, The Wolseley.
In San Francisco, Zuni Cafe.
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black,’ what’s the new potato right now?
I am really into the idea of healthy and organic food being accessible to everyone. Organic fast food anyone? LA has so many great options and the food tastes really good. Places like Kreation Kafe, Café Gratitude, Lyfe and Earth Bar are great examples. I hope this trend moves to NYC and other urban cities.
*Roopal Patel, photographed at Jack’s Wife Freda in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann. Roopal wears a Marc Jacobs dress.