The owners of In The Details, a recently opened clothing boutique in Hampden, want to team with a designer to offer a line of menswear. They want to make sure that the designer is locally based so they can build additional exclusivity.
Lisa Schatz, owner of the Fells Point boutique Cupcake, said she'd also be interested in a designer collaboration.
"I would do it if it wasn't too expensive and if we could sell a limited number of merchandise," she said. "We don't want 100 people in Baltimore wearing the same thing."
The boutique-designer collaborations are the latest in the evolution in the relationship between the customer, designer and retailer, according to Joanne Kane Offerman, an assistant professor of fashion merchandising management at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
"The line is blurring," said Kane Offerman, noting designer-retailer collaborations ranging from Missoni for Target to Versace at H&M. "It's an entirely changed landscape. All of these are byproducts of the changing landscape."
She said the relationship with designers can give boutiques a boost in prestige. "It gives them the opportunity to showcase the brand," she said. "For the designer, it gives them an incubator feel. The designer can use the retailer to test the merchandise."
Shoe designer Campbell enjoys working with smaller retailers such as Ma Petite Shoe because of the creativity displayed by the boutique owners, according to his spokeswoman, Sharon Blackburn. Siger stands out.
"She likes really bright colors," Blackburn said. "It's refreshing. A lot of times we present in basic black, tan, red and brown. She thinks outside the box with hot pink, purple and teal. It's nice that she can look at a style and see it in another color."
Siger first started collaborating with Campbell in 2010. She and her then-assistant buyer, Alyana Spratley, asked Campbell to add a fur cuff to one of his wedges, which he willingly did. The shoe became a hit at the boutique, quickly selling out.
"It creates desirability and exclusivity because there are only 12 of these shoes in the world," Siger said. "When we say that, we are not exaggerating."
Hall, the Ma Petite Shoe customer who wore her Campbell color-blocked shoes the night she purchased them, goes online to make sure she doesn't miss the release of collaborations between the designer and the boutique. She knows that once the specialty shoes have been sold, they're gone for good.
"I buy them because they are rare, and I'm a huge Jeffrey Campbell fan," said Hall, who lives in Hampden. "I think the concept of shopping local and having national brands is awesome. It makes us feel special."