Coterie’s Colleen Sherin on This Season’s All-Digital Show and More!

by Eddie Roche

Earlier this year, Colleen Sherin was announced as the new president of Coterie, where her years at Saks Fifth Avenue and Alexander McQueen bring a fresh perspective to one of the most important trade shows in the world. What does this seasoned fashion executive and her team have lined up for Coterie’s first-ever all-digital show? The Daily got the scoop!

Congrats on your new role at Coterie! Your background is so interesting. Tell us about your professional highlights.
Thank you! I am thoroughly enjoying my role as president of Coterie, which I began early this year—and what a year it’s been thus far! I spent more than 15 years with Saks Fifth Avenue, where I rose through the ranks from associate buyer to fashion market director to vice president, fashion director. I then went in-house to Alexander McQueen, a brand I had nurtured throughout my career.

What attracted you to the gig at Coterie?
I had attended Coterie over the years in my role as fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, where it was an excellent place to discover new brands and review the latest seasonal offerings from our more established contemporary brands. The diversity of the multibrand aspect had great appeal to me and was something that I missed when I went in-house on the mono-brand side. The international focus of the role is also super exciting as we become an even larger global marketplace.

What are some things you’re hoping to build in the position?
I look forward to bringing new brands and product categories to Coterie, so there’s a true sense of discovery for our retail buyers. There’s also an opportunity for us to do smaller, more curated micro events in the future. We just launched our digital marketplace on September 1st, which is an important multichannel initiative and one that will continue to evolve.

You started in February, and we all know how things went in March. What has it been like starting a new job at such a different time in our world?
It has indeed been a whirlwind since February! Our fall/winter 2020 event was February 11–13. I left for Milan and Paris the following week, just as the coronavirus was breaking out in Europe. We’ve been working from home since March 16th and had to quickly adapt to remote working styles. Microsoft Teams and Zoom have kept us connected and have even brought us closer together in many ways. There are certain efficiencies and learnings that will come out of this experience, as well as innovation. I do miss the spontaneity of face-to-face interactions and the collaboration that occurs in the office, so I’m looking forward to the time when we may all safely be back together.

Coterie is not able to have a physical show this year. Tell us about the digital platform you’ve created.
Even before COVID-19, our company, Informa Markets Fashion, which houses the premier trade events of Coterie, Magic, Project, Children’s Club, and MICAM Americas (our footwear show, which is the sister show to the globally recognized MICAM Milano), had been in talks regarding adding a digital component to our events, as we truly believe the future of fashion is a marriage of physical and digital. With the global pandemic, our plans were accelerated, especially with the responsibility we have to our fashion community; they rely on us to convene the industry. Over the past few months, our teams, along with our partner, NuOrder, have been hard at work creating a truly revolutionary new marketplace. In one centralized hub, which showcases more than 1,200 brands across women’s, men’s, children’s, and footwear, retail buyers can shop products through dynamic digital showrooms, with 360-degree imagery and video, make appointments, and conduct direct 1:1 business, much like a live event.

How else are you using digital?
Taking this experience a step further and mimicking the B2C shopping experience, which is an intuitive experience for even the most nontech savvy user, we’ve also created shopable, curated editorials and features written by fashion editors and industry tastemakers. Buyers can expect to find an ongoing refreshment of themed roundups, trend reports, and behind-the-brand Q&As, just to name a few examples. This experience is where we truly see the reimagination of wholesale commerce, through content-driven commerce. It’s intuitive, it’s delightful, and it delivers the exact products you’re looking for, plus the ones you didn’t even know you needed! Additionally, we’ve translated our onsite educational programming into our digital environment. Refreshed throughout the entire eight weeks, buyers can explore on-demand digital sessions and educational guides, geared toward both the veteran buyer, as well as the first-time trade event attendee. Built with the bigger picture fashion community needs in mind, our digital trade event is truly remarkable, and exactly what our industry needs, both now and in the future.

Tell us about pairing with NuOrder.
It’s a true partnership, joining the best of both worlds to translate the experience of discovery and commerce in a new and exciting virtual environment. NuOrder’s intuitive platform, robust features, and superior engineering for scale and flexibility were the driving force behind our decision to partner with them.

How many brands have signed up this season?
We have more than 1,200 brands exhibiting across our five digital marketplaces of Coterie, Magic, Project, Children’s Club, and MICAM Americas.

What are some of the interesting brands we should check out this season?
We have so many wonderful brands with us this season, from House of Waris Botanicals, Illesteva, LaQuan Smith, Najash, Qua Vino, Temperley London to The Kooples, Kleed Kimonos, Joie, Marine Layer, Ramy Brook, Lana Ogilvie Cosmetics, and Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott, just to name a few!

You’ve also had success already with a lot of buyers signing up. Who are some of the big buyers?
Yes, we have! At launch, on September 1st, we had just over 15,000 registered buyers, and the numbers have continued on an upward trend since. This includes major department stores, specialty stores, and online retailers, such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, El Palacio de Hierro, Isetan, Shopbop, Olivela, Rent the Runway, Revolve, Verishop, Lisa Kline, Maisonette, Tootsies, Fred Segal, and on and on!

What would you advise brands to do in order to appeal to consumers at this moment?
Brands must be aware of shifting consumer lifestyles; the trend toward casual comfort and luxe loungewear is not going away and has been further amplified by the work-from-home movement. A focus on health, beauty, and wellness is also an opportunity for brands in the self-care and activewear categories. People need to feel optimism in this environment we’re currently living in; product that elicits a positive emotional response through novelty, color, print, and pattern is a must.

What are buyers looking for?
Key items for the season include PPE/face masks, “Zoom” tops (as we’re being seen from the waist up on video calls), casual summer dresses, luxe loungewear, and beauty and wellness items.

A lot of former and current models have launched successful brands of their own. You will soon be talking to Gail Elliott and Lana Ogilvie. What are you curious to know from them?
I’m excited to be speaking with both Gail of Little Joe Woman by Gail Elliott and Lana of Lana Ogilvie Cosmetics. It will be wonderful to learn how they’ve successfully pivoted to become brand builders from the knowledge they gained through their major modeling careers.

What are you most excited about in your new job?
So many things! From further growing our digital initiatives, bringing new, undiscovered brands onboard, to in-office collaboration with my colleagues, and further exploring international opportunities—and this is just a start!

Finally, we’re all working from home these days. What’s your typical work-from-home look?
A “Zoom” top, track pants, and a smile!

Buyers can watch Sherin interview models Devon Windsor, Gail Elliott, and Lana Ogilvie about their latest professional endeavors and online showrooms on Coterie Digital. Press HERE to check it out. 

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