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Spiegel Shares a Factory With Marc Jacobs

Spiegel International Creative Director Richard Lowe
Spiegel International Creative Director Richard Lowe

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Welcome to Brands You Should Know, a new series where we talk to the people behind some of our favorite lesser-known shopping sites. Today, we chat with Richard Lowe, international creative director at heritage catalog brand Spiegel.

Spiegel has a reputation for being a mom brand, but we rediscovered it recently when a friend who was temping there kept showing up in super cute pieces. It turns out that under Lowe's direction, Spiegel is reinventing itself as a fashion-forward brand with an emphasis on quality. They produce some of their collection in the same factory as Marc Jacobs and Sonia Rykiel and source the same fabrics as DVF and Balmain Paris. And the prices are super affordable. Here's what Lowe has to say about designing for a 150-year-old company, the challenges of e-commerce, and peplums.

How long has Spiegel been around?
We are 148 years old this year. We have an iconic heritage of being a women's fashion company since 1912. We were the first catalog company to visit the paris runway shows and bring European fashion to the US.

Who is your typical customer?
A women obsessed with today's fashion that is trend right, priced right, and at the highest level of quality. She is very specific, tailored, and contemporary with a conservative edge.

What's your favorite piece/designer on the site right now?
Our signature pieces for the season are the Deco Dress and the Deco Pant. Both pieces illustrate my 1920s-inspired vision for effortless glamour. Our Deco Pant is the chicest pajama pant on the market with couture detailing defining every element of its construction. The Deco Dress with its engineered print placement and fabulous peplum detailing has quickly become our best-selling dress of the season.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced in e-commerce?
The most challenging component of running a direct online business is educating your consumer about the quality of your product. The products we have online today for the Spring/Summer 2013 collections are the highest level of construction and detailing that the consumer has ever been offered. We struggle in the immediate sense of illustrating to her the unique details and value proposition of the garments (custom glass buttons, stretch printed linings, etc.)

What's the best thing about shopping the site?
We are in the process of making our site one of the most advanced on the market. We have gone out of our way to test and implement some of the best technological features available on the market including full visibility on color assortments and lazy loading so that consumers have an endless scroll, seeing all products consistantly for ease of shopping. We have also gone to great lengths to make our social media more user friendly and available to the consumer while shopping on the site. Very soon 360 degree videos will be added to the site so that the consumer can see that the garments haven't been pinned or clipped.

Aesthetic: Sexy mom. (You have to kind of work with it.)
Strong points: Surprisingly chic finds at affordable prices, especially for jewelry and accessories. Consider it an alternative to H&M or Zara.
Weak points: Unappealing styling. Don't go here for inspiration—go here to dig for some gems.
Brands: Private label Spiegel brand.
Price range: Pretty much everything is under $150.
Shipping: Standard rates apply.
Returns: You have up to 45 days for a full refund .

Bonus: Most pieces go up to a size 16.

· Spiegel [Official Site]
· More Brands You Should Know [Racked]