Trends, Trends, Trends! Checking In With Fashion’s Favorite Forecaster Lisa Aiken

by Freya Drohan

Just say you got a few minutes to chat to Neiman Marcus’ SVP, fashion and lifestyle director Lisa Aiken, wwyd? Talk trends, of course! From holiday dressing conundrums to getting a head start on new season must-haves and brands to bookmark, the British transplant is a fountain of fashion knowledge. Alas, we’d be remiss not to ask some questions about what industry changes she hopes to see going forward and what she’s focusing on in her major new role. Take it away, Lisa… 

How have you been settling into your new job? What was the one thing that made accepting this job a no-brainer
It has been an amazing start to my first few months at Neiman Marcus; it is a truly incredible business which is full of knowledge about the client, passion for superior service, and excitement to deliver unexpected luxury experiences. I will be honest, I am not sure I could fully appreciate the heritage that Neiman Marcus has until you join the business—it has a very rich and dynamic history. Having spent my entire career at some of the world’s leading retailers, I am particularly excited and feel like there is a unique opportunity at Neiman Marcus, who has a focus on integrated luxury retail and meeting the customer where they are—whether it be in stores, online and remote.

What have you been focusing on since you started the role and what are you excited about for the next year?
My immediate goals are to refine our fashion point of view, brand portfolio, and assortment, focusing on what Neiman Marcus was built upon, inspiring the luxury client with incredible fashion from around the world, both from established houses and emerging talents. We are looking at new concepts, curations, and categories, as well as building out a calendar for the year ahead with some very exciting exclusive projects.

What was your first ever job?
My first ever job was at a supermarket—where I tailored my uniform to make it more flattering and styled it with ballet flats! My first role in fashion was at the only designer boutique in the city. That experience of working on the shop floor proved so valuable, as by the time I was interning for Bridget Cosgrave at Matches, I had a lot of knowledge of recent collections and even something as simple as how to spell designer names in her trend reports was something she noticed.

 

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You grew up in Newcastle. What was your childhood like? How did fashion originally come into the picture?
I loved fashion from a young age. My mum would take me to the haberdashery to pick out a Vogue paper pattern and the fabric to make clothes for me. I was an ’80s child, so you can imagine some of the questionable decision making a seven-year-old would make!

You’re known for your taste and for always being ahead. Can you trace that back to anything in particular?
Firstly, thank you, what a compliment! I think of being ahead in this industry as putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. Picking up clues from everywhere; runway shows, editors, social media, business meetings, etc. and forming a view about what happens next. Whether that’s on a fashion and trend level, or the industry overall. I talk, and more importantly, I listen to a lot of people and try to stay open to everything. My next challenge is understanding NFTs. Honestly, I am not fully there yet, but I’m working on it.

 

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Who has been the most influential in your life and career?
Too many to name, and I would inevitably miss someone out and feel terrible about it!

When did you make the move Stateside?
I moved to New York in August 2019. It’s been an interesting 2.5 years but I absolutely love this city. The energy is just infectious.

Beyond people, what do you miss most about home?
I do miss that grungy London style. And reading the Sunday Times, in hard copy, splitting out the sections between me and my husband over an English breakfast.

Let’s talk about trends! Fall Winter ’21 ride or die staples?
The fashion mood is one of extremes right now—we want more comfort and practicality from our everyday wardrobe but when dressing up we are seeing everyone really dress up. So on the womenswear side, I would say sweater dressing, bold outerwear, and chunky boots are the essentials. There is a slow return to tailoring. And when it comes to evening anything goes: sequins, feathers, mini lengths, strong color… holiday dressing is ‘more-is-more’ this season.

What are you already dreaming about for Spring Summer?
I am looking forward to embracing strong saturated pops of color, which have been sorely lacking in our wardrobes of late. Also a return to sexier dressing with cut-outs and body-con silhouettes. I want everyone to feel incredibly confident in themselves. I really enjoyed seeing a return to craft and more artisanal techniques, so really anything in crochet (though my personal dream ticket would be one of Gabriela Hearst’s maxi dresses for Chloé).

Neiman Marcus CMO Daz Mccoll and Neiman Marcus fashion & lifestyle director Lisa Aiken (Getty Images)

What five fashion items from Neiman Marcus are on your own version of the Fantasy Gifts list?
The Khaite leather trench coat, the Bottega Veneta Arco tote (now I don’t have an office and I seem to need to carry my laptop around more), a Spinelli Kilcollin ring (which I have had my eye on since his first feature on Vogue.com several years ago), a Prada combat boot, and a Chanel cable knit sweater. Now, if you can just make sure my husband sees this article, that would be incredibly helpful!

What would you buy for your loved ones this season if money was no object?
I would probably kit them all out in Moncler and fly them all to New York for a winter getaway. I can’t imagine anything better than seeing my niece and nephew in mini puffer jackets on Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo, where I live.

What are your takeaways from a return to physical fashion shows? What did you appreciate and what do you hope changes?
I am so happy to get back to seeing collections in real life; I felt like I regressed to the earliest days in my career and appreciated everything all over again. Everyone was quick to adapt to a new way of working, but nothing can replace being in a showroom, pulling together an edit, chatting with the designer, and working with the buying team. That said, I do hope we can evolve to be more thoughtful about the number of collections needed each year, and the pressure that puts on the creative teams, supply chains, and pretty much every stakeholder in the industry.

 

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Who are your ones to watch?
I saw a beautifully understated collection called Salon 1884 earlier this week. It is the brand’s very first season and very much reminded me of seeing Khaite or Gabriela Hearst in the early days. I am also really excited to see what is to come for Peter Do and Studio 189, both of which we are launching next season. There are also several brands that are more established but have an opportunity to really build, including Christopher Esber, Awake Mode, and Sergio Hudson.

What are your own holiday plans? Will you get to see family?
I am delighted that the US travel restrictions have lifted, as it means I am able to travel home to see my family. Then skiing in France for New Year—I’m already planning the wardrobe for that trip!

Lastly, your favorite British treat/meal and where can we get it in NYC?!
Honestly, British food isn’t too wonderful…but I do import PG Tips tea, Walkers Shortbread, and Cadbury’s chocolate!

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