The Insider: Shopbop’s Fashion Director on Prioritizing Inclusion Through Product
Words by The Folklore Team
As the Fashion Director of Shopbop, Caroline Maguire is responsible for discovering new talent, forecasting trends and closely with designers to collaborate on collections. She also helps guide the direction the company goes in, which has seen Shopbop recently prioritize making its product offerings more diverse and inclusive. The online shopping retailer has shared a commitment to working towards increasing representation of the Black community across the company, through the brands they carry, the partners they work with, and the content they produce.
Today, Shopbop offers a wide range of brands that include many Black-owned brands as well as Asian and Pacific Islander designers such as SOKO, Autumn Adeigbo and Chan Luu. Maguire’s work has greatly contributed to this, thanks to her childhood love of fashion, more than 15 years in the industry and an eye for the next big thing.
Below, Maguire talks to The Folklore Edit about the current fashion scene, the brands she’s excited about and increasing diverse representation across the fashion industry.
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I’d describe myself as a fashion-obsessed mom who absolutely loves product and styling and, of course, mixing and matching my closet. As the Fashion Director of Shopbop.com, I forecast new trends, discover new talent, and partner with buyers and incredible brands on editing assortments. The best part of my role is the honor of getting to work closely with our visionary designers, hearing their stories, and discovering what inspires them and their collections.
How did you get your start in the fashion industry? Did you always want to work as a buyer?
I remember watching Friends, Rachel Green was a buyer for Ralph Lauren, and something clicked. I knew that was my calling and what I wanted to do. I’ve loved fashion from a young age – especially mixing high and low pieces. So started my career as a Merchant Trainee at a buying program, and everything fell into place.
How would you describe the fashion scene right now? What trends or brands excite you?
Fall 2022 has so many exciting things to buy and I cannot wait. We see a return to “daytime drama”. Lots of sparkles, diamonds, sequin, velvet, and tulle – traditionally seen for evening hours but now ready to make their daytime debut. Also, I’m loving all of the tailoring, lots of blazers, and low-slung trousers. So many new brands have hit our site, but I’m incredibly excited for De Loreta, Sergio Hudson, Wales Bonner, Supriya Lele, and Victor Glemaud.
How do you discover new brands and designers to work with? Is there anything in particular you look out for with emerging brands?
It always starts with the product when looking for emerging brands to work with. What excites me most is anything on-trend, fun, approachable, and novel. So I’m constantly scouring almost every social media channel or chatting with editors and content creators. If the product feels right for Shopbop, I know our customers will fall in love with the corresponding brand or designer.
Shopbop stocks a wide range of Black-owned brands such as Andrea Iyamah, Vavvoune and KHIRY. Has it been a conscious, deliberate decision on your part to include diverse brands in your roster?
We strive to ensure our assortment is diverse and reflects the range of customers we serve. This is something that continues to be a priority for us – we are actively expanding and evolving our selection of BIPOC-owned brands and designers on an ongoing basis.
What do you think is the key to increasing the visibility of designers from diverse backgrounds to a global audience?
Our relationships with brands and designers are so important to us at Shopbop. We work closely with designers to ensure we’re authentically telling their story in the content we share while also reflecting their unique point of view through our product offerings. In addition, we prioritize ways to increase diverse representation outside the designer roster when partnering with models, influencers, production teams, photographers and stylists.
What advice would you give someone trying to incorporate more diverse brands into their wardrobe?
Look for retailers and platforms that carry a wide and diverse range of designers and brands. We partner with a number of organizations, such as Black in Fashion Council and Harlem’s Fashion Row, that help champion these brands, offer representation, and give them a platform within the fashion industry.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring buyers on starting out in the industry, what would it be?
You will never know who will be the next big thing, so be open to looking at all new designers. Always be honest with the sales team, and give designers feedback on what your customer wants – it is so important to know your customer inside out. And most importantly, be humble.