How long have you been a buyer and how did you get into it?
I've been buying for Independence for about a year and a half. While I never sought out to be a buyer, I have to admit, it's a great job. As many of you know, I'm the founder / design director of Oak Street Bootmakers. Independence is our flagship shop and we only carry goods that are crafted in the USA. So doing the buying for Independence has allowed us to cultivate a community for US designers and manufacturers, and give them a home in Chicago.
What is your favorite seasonal collection buy of all time?
One of our focuses at Independence is to buy deep into collections that we don't see a ton of here in the US. I absolutely love Post Overalls - which we do heavily, and Engineered Garments. Those two paired with Batten Sportswear are consistently amazing. With collections as big as Daiki and Takeshi from EG and Post make, I always pick out 'key' items, but also always try to pick out special pieces that I know other shops won't be bringing in.
What brand's collection are you looking forward to getting most for SS13?
Post Overalls. Takeshi's collections always blow me away. Also - I came out to Berlin for Bread & Butter, so while made in Japan, I'm definitely going to check out The Real McCoys. We have a small shop-in-shop called Pop-Up. Pop-Up features a small selection of non USA brands that we respect, and have incredible craftsmanship. For example, we currently have a few pieces from Kitsune, will be bringing in Nigel Cabourn in a few months, and hopefully a few pieces from the Real McCoys for next winter.
What advice would you give other buyers just starting out?
I remember the first time I went to see the Engineered Garments collection I couldn't believe how big it was. Most of those items however, buyers never selected, and so they didn't come to market. What I try to do, is have our customers in mind. For example, when i see certain items I think to myself 'Adam K' would love this piece, or "Jeff L" will flip when he sees this coat! You have to know your customers - after all, you're doing the buying for them. If that's in the foreground, and you buy pieces that you love, from designers you respect, you can't go wrong.