Millennials and Generation Z are probably familiar with the buzzy concept of a pop-up store; to the rest of us, it’s a trunk show.
This form of shopping started years ago, when designers quite literally shipped goods to a store in trunks. Now, whether it arrives in a steamer trunk or a garment bag, the concept endures.
“While a trunk show may sound intimidating, it’s a really lovely way to shop,” says Lisa Slesinger, women’s buyer and co-owner of Larrimor’s. “It’s the antidote to the modern shopping experience of ordering something, throwing it on at home, shoving it back in a box, and returning it to a warehouse. People are blown away the first time they have this experience because they had no idea we could take care of them like this.”
We got in-depth with Lisa about the value of a trunk show in the age of online shopping and why it remains such an exclusive, special way to build a wardrobe.
What is a trunk show?
A trunk show is a curated, broader assortment of clothing, jewelry, or other categories that temporarily come into a store. It’s also a different, exciting way to shop. Drop by whenever you have time, or you can make an appointment—always recommended—to walk through the collection with a stylist or brand representative. At a Larrimor’s trunk show in particular, expect to find not only a wider assortment of goods than the store usually has space for but also more select finds than any other speciality or department store in the area could offer.
Why shop at a trunk show?
A trunk show is a fun way to expand your sartorial horizons, learn about new things, and explore firsthand how beautiful a product gets made. What you’ll find on display is different from what you would ordinarily see, so if you prize uniqueness, a trunk show is your chance to find something rare or trendsetting before it gets to the masses.
Trunk shows are also the way to go if you’re a tough fit. When you attend one, you can try on the clothes and get complimentary alterations on a full-price purchase. The expertise you’ll find during a trunk show, both from the brand and from Larrimor’s, makes all the difference.
“A trunk show is a great way to get things for a special occasion that’ll fit you beautifully. A brand may show a sleeveless evening gown, and we can tell you how we can change it for you,” says Lisa. “Or a man who’s very athletic may have a harder time finding pants to fit his upper thighs, for instance. At a trunk show, we can make pants for him that will accommodate his musculature. Either way, we get the chance to make people feel fabulous.”
How does a trunk show work?
Exclusive products roll into the store for as little as two days or up to two weeks at most. Anyone can attend a trunk show, with no obligation to buy.
Larrimor’s validates parking under the Fairmont Hotel. On entering, expect to be warmly greeted and directed to where the trunk show is located. After perusing the collection, your stylist will carry the samples you like into the fitting room. If the garments are being made for you, Larrimor’s will take each of your measurements and send them to the design house; if the garments you’ve selected have already been produced, together you’ll determine your best size.
Then, after you leave a deposit, your clothes will be ordered for you. When they arrive, the Larrimor’s in-house tailoring team can do any final minor alterations as needed. If for whatever reason the item doesn’t work for you, Larrimor’s will find you something else or offer you a store credit.
Why shop at a trunk show?
A trunk show affords you the chance to look at exclusive brands and styles that most people will never know about. If you value individuality, a trunk show can turn up something that fits like it was made for you and that you won’t see coming and going on everyone else. In other words, personal style.
Shopping this way is also convenient: “A few times a year, you can come in when it makes sense for you, before or after store hours, and we’ll work with you to get something special,” says Lisa. Tailoring gets handled simultaneously—a real time-saver. When you attend a pre-fall show, for instance, you’re getting out ahead of the season and the crowd.
Finally, with an emphasis on quality and longevity, a trunk show is a thoughtful, deliberate way to build a wardrobe. Whatever stage of your life you’re in, you’re systematically creating a sustainable, stylish closet you can count on.
When are trunk shows held?
The height of trunk show season is mid-August through mid-May. During that time, Larrimor’s has something going on practically every week. During some trunk shows, you can walk out with a shopping bag or expect to receive delivery within the same season. Pre-season trunk shows work on a longer, more variable lead time.
What trunk shows are coming up at Larrimor’s?
Trunk shows kick off July 15-17 with fall womenswear from Algo of Switzerland. This is a unique opportunity to work with one of the label’s owners to witness up close and personal what has made it so special since 1917: one-of-a-kind outerwear, spectacular leather jackets, and elegant fabrications for daytime dressing.
“Algo always offers fashion you won’t see anywhere else,” Lisa says. “Nicholas Goetschel will be involved in every aspect of your fitting and carry that information back with him to Switzerland, where Algo will make your garment.”
August 26-28, Lafayette 148 New York will roll in with its very popular fall show. This beloved brand presents trunk shows at Larrimor’s several times per year.
How do you find out about a trunk show?
Get in the loop by making your interest known to a Larrimor’s stylist. Join the store’s email list or call 412-471-5727.