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Crimson Mim Brings New York's Emerging Designers to Palo Alto

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In 2005 Christine Campbell opened the first Crimson Mim boutique in Los Altos, CA. She felt that, "just because a woman lives in the suburbs doesn’t mean she should suffer a lack of interesting fashion choices or shop at homogenized mall-based stores." To fill the void Campbell stocked her shop with brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim, Loeffler Randall, ALC, and Rachel Comey. Six years later, after seeing the success of her first shop, Campbell decided to open a second outpost in Palo Alto at Town & Country Village.
Racked: Describe the Palo Alto market.

Christine Campbell: The fashion market on the Peninsula, Silicon Valley, is varied and eclectic. Because the women who live here are highly educated and well-traveled, they tend to seek out different and unique items. Cookie cutter/mass is not as appealing to this woman as fashion that is as unique and globally influenced as she is. At the same time, this is a professional woman who is searching for items to wear to work, so things have to be professional and wearable.

Racked: What do people love on the Peninsula?

Campbell: Women on the Peninsula love 3.1 Phillip Lim, Graham & Spencer, Rachel Comey, and Bettye Muller and Chie Mihara shoes. This area’s culture is very outdoors oriented. People hike, run, and bike. As a result, the women are in great shape and like to wear clothes that flatter their figure.

Racked: What items sell best?

Campbell: Women here are open to a lot. While we always do well with shirt dresses, dresses that travel well, and cardigans, our customer will try something new and different. Whether it’s an up-and-coming line like Whit or Caron Callahan, or a new silhouette like this spring’s cropped top, or a pop of color (fuchsia, orange, bright blue) in a new pair of shoes. Fitted and tailored items work much better than oversized.

Racked: What doesn't work?

Campbell: Showing too much skin (i.e. super-deep v necks, really short skirts) and items that are not bra-friendly! Extreme platform heels.

Racked: Do you buy for yourself or do you have a specific person in mind?

Campbell: I buy for our customer and look for items she is going to love, will work for her life, that represent great value, and are not widely available. She doesn’t want to see herself coming and going. I often ask myself: will this item work in her wardrobe (i.e. timeless and classic with a twist)? Is the fit good? Are the fabrics, textures, and shapes rich, gorgeous, and distinctive? Can our woman wear this to work? Does the item represent great value (i.e. will they be happily surprised by the price)? Our customers tell us the items they buy from us are their favorites, the things they wear the most, and they receive the most compliments on. We’re always on the lookout for those special pieces to continue to make our customers happy.

Racked: Who is your customer?

Campbell: Our customer is really varied – she is a student at Stanford, which is right across the street from us, and her mother, who might be an executive at a Silicon Valley technology company. We help our customers find items for work, travel, dinners out, special occasion, and every day.

Racked: Do you have any exclusives?

Campbell: Many of our shoes are exclusive in terms of material and color. An example is the Butter Slinky slingback peep toe in nude patent leather.

Racked: Have you introduced any designers to the Bay Area?

Campbell: Currently, we are the only retailer in the Bay Area that carries Caron Callahan, Harvey Faircloth, and one of only two that carries Whit and Winifred Grace. In years past, we’ve introduced many lines including Anyi Lu, Rachel Comey’s footwear, Gary Graham, and Loeffler Randall.

Racked: Other than your own, what are some of your favorite stores in the Bay Area?

Campbell: In the San Francisco Bay Area, I like Nest for their eclectic mix; the Alameda Point Antiques Faire (1st Sunday of every month) for amazing antiques, collectibles, and vintage clothing; Alla Prima Fine Lingerie; and Modern Appealing Clothing (MAC) in Hayes Valley.
· Crimson Mim [Official Site]