Celebrating 125 years in business in 2013, Belk is enhancing its stylish scope. Not only will the family-owned department store chain launch fresh collection collaborations, but a new flagship is coming to Big D. The venue won’t officially open until Spring 2014, but the company’s plans for the former Saks space at Galleria Dallas are already generating a loud buzz.
We tapped Arlene Goldstein, Belk’s Vice President of Trend Merchandising, to get the inside scoop on the splashy expansion. With global style credentials that include executive roles for Saks, Inc., and Parisian, Alabama native Goldstein returned to her Southern roots in joining the North Carolina-based team. Today, she’s sharing her perspective on upcoming designer debuts and projects the company has in store for DFW.
DFW Style Daily: Dallas is delighted to welcome Belk’s first Texas-based flagship. Care to dish the details on plans for next spring’s launch?
Arlene Goldstein (pictured above): “We are just now beginning to evaluate the fabulous opportunities in Dallas, and I can tell you that we’ll definitely be focusing on philanthropic collaborations. With our flagship stores, Belk hosts numerous initiatives per season with non-profit organizations. Events like the recent fashion show we did with the Junior League of Raleigh represent a format that works well for us and supports the communities Belk values!”
How did Belk select Galleria Dallas as a marquee location, and how will the company tweak its approach for the local market?
“We always knew we wanted to have a big presence in Dallas, and when the right location came up, we were eager to grab such a perfect opportunity! And though we’re still in the process of merchandising for the store, we’re definitely considering a fantastic, expanded selection of pieces that put the ‘special’ in our special occasion collections.”
As the company celebrates a major milestone this year, what strategic changes are underway for Belk?
“The developments I’m most excited about are the recent launch of CYNTHIA by Cynthia Rowley, and the debut of the 2012 Southern Designer Showcase collections, which were just made available online. Belk will also be a big part of Charleston Fashion Week. I’m honored to serve as a judge, and we’re thrilled that Cynthia will be there as well.
“In addition to events and collaborations, Belk is taking a more aggressive approach to building our social media and online presence as we continue to help fans and followers connect with Belk in a new, more modern way.”
What behind-the-scenes scoop can you share with fans eagerly awaiting the results of the 2013 Southern Designer Showcase in June?
“We’re so excited to begin reviewing the 300-plus amazing applications we’ve received this year. By far, the best part of the entire process is learning what connects the participants to Belk’s Southern footprint. From the special occasion designer who remembered buying his first Boy Scout uniform at Belk, to the girls who recall picking out their prom dresses at our stores, each story is so organic, real, and inspirational.
“My favorite memory thus far was shared by a woman from a tiny town in South Carolina. She and her mother, who recently passed away, had a lifelong tradition of traveling to Belk to choose fabrics for the clothing they made together. When she told us she’d ‘never even dreamed of having the opportunity’ to sell her creations here, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Stories like hers are what make the showcase so important, rewarding, and fun!”
What unique experiences have had an impact on your career in fashion, and what sentimental, stylish pieces stand out among your wardrobe?
“It’s said that in fashion, we have to look back to look forward. I love things that have a past and a story to tell, like those that belonged to my grandmother. The pieces I have from her – an old brooch, button earrings, a fur-trimmed cardigan – are some of my most prized possessions. Seeing my daughter in her brocade sheath, which fits as if it was made for her, delights me and would’ve brought a mile-wide smile to her face.
“However, my most famous vintage find was discovered at a flea market in Charlotte. I was far beyond the well-appointed booths and well into the ‘third tier’ sheds, when a particular proprietor approached me and said, ‘I think there’s something here for you.’ I was caught off guard, but intrigued, and he dug through a pile of scrap beads and jewels to produce a delicate, silver bracelet with a small heart attached. It was engraved with the words, ‘You hold the key.’ And on the back of the charm, my husband’s initials, M.G. For $5, I found something I’ll always treasure.”
When it comes to your personal aesthetic, what’s your go-to style, and what are you buying this season?
“Because of my hectic travel and work schedules, I rely on staples like LBD’s and great black pencil skirts and slim pants, to which I can easily add fashion elements. Today, for example, I’m wearing a basic LBD and knee-high boots, topped with a military jacket. I often say that the ‘look is in the mix,’ and I encourage adventurous, unpredictable style choices, but done in your own, original way. For spring, pieces like Vince Camuto’s jacquard blazer and pants, and Anne Klein’s peplum shell and skirt in cherry are ideal options for mixing it up.”
(Arlene Goldstein headshot via CarolinaStyleMag.com; All clothing images via Belk.com)