Q&A With Wes Gordon on Why Trunk Shows Are Cool

In town for a V.I.P. trunk show last week at The Room, Gordon sat down with us to dish on what really happens behind the velvet rope.

Wes Gordon1

By: Nancy Won

A designer trunk show is the kind of hush-hush, high-fashion event reserved for V.I.P. clients and industry insiders. Think of it as a posh meet-and-greet, plus a full-on personal shopping session with your favourite designer—basically, a fashion fantasy come true. They’re usually invite-only so you need to know somebody who knows somebody, but fashion destinations like The Room, the designer boutique in The Bay’s Toronto flagship, are hosting them all the time. Which means that day you were obsessively trying on Wes Gordon dresses, he could have been in the next room, quietly outfitting A-listers. In town for a V.I.P. trunk show last week at The Room, Gordon sat down with us to dish on what really happens behind the velvet rope.

What do you have planned for the trunk show today?
This morning we met with all the sales people from The Room, walked them through the collection and told them about myself, and my inspiration, just to familiarize them with the brand. That’s a big part of the trunk show. It’s great to meet clients but it’s also about forming relationships with the store and the sales people. And then we’ll do a lunch here in the private shopping suite with top clients, Hudson’s Bay execs and some media. It will be very intimate, it’s not a fashion show. It’s quite casual, which I think is nice. We have our fall samples here as well as spring and resort, so people can take pieces home now or order them.

What is your favourite part of a trunk show?
I love getting people to play dress up. I don’t even care if they buy things—I just like to have people trying things on. So I’m sure I’ll bully them into doing that right after lunch. It’s always fun when a woman comes in and we spend time trying things on, and then we finally hit that “ah ha” moment when she puts on a dress and it’s like it was made for her. That’s exciting.

Have you ever had a really awkward moment at a trunk show?
Everyone always asks how old I am. It’s the first thing that happens at every trunk show! Every woman comes in and is like, “oh my god, you’re a baby.” So now literally the first thing I say is, “Hi, I’m 27!”

Why are these trunk shows so important?
We do a lot of trunk shows and I think one of the most important things about it is building these communities, so that it’s not just a sweater hanging on a rack with a label—it becomes something more, there’s a connection. As a young brand, it’s so crucial that we do trunk shows, talk about what makes the collection special and share our point of view.

What have you learned from doing trunk shows?
Nothing’s taught me more as a designer than travelling the world, doing trunk shows and meeting clients. Putting a face to our client, and standing in the fitting room with her as she’s looking in the mirror, wearing our dress—that’s the most incredible education. And I’ve gotten so good I can instantly see if she likes it or not. She doesn’t even need to say anything. It’s that first look in the mirror. The goal is for her to put something on and feel beautiful. So doing these is so valuable in so many ways.

How has the collection been received in Canada so far?
We’ve been at The Room for four seasons but this is our first time doing an event here so it’s very exciting. It’s a gorgeous store and Nicholas Mellamphy [The Room’s vice president and buying director] does such an amazing job—he picks really fun, cool pieces and as a result it does very well.