Submitted by Melissa Howsam — Correspondent
From the fashionSPARK catwalk to the local retail scene, ADORE's look is taking center stage, swankin' up Cary with couture and lending its mod vision and brand concept to local lookers.
Husband-and-wife tandem Robert and Nancy Alinovi opened ADORE in October 09. The posh, prize-winning boutique has garnered glam awards as the 2010 Best Consignment Shop by The Cary News, as well as a 2010 Diamond Award for Best Place to Find Unique Brands of Clothing by Cary Living Magazine, with an additional nod in the Friendliest Service category.
With a passion that stretches beyond fashion, these Triangle trendsetters are also extending the local give. Last Christmas they donated a Gucci purse and a David Yurman diamond pendant for a raffle for childrens cancer charity Striving for More. And in May, they participated in a fashion show to benefit The Coalition to Unchain Dogs.
We recently caught up with Nancy Alinovi to get the inside scoop on what ADORE has in store. From making their vogue concept virtual with an online shop, to plans for new retail spots in the Triangle, ADORE is making its mark on local fashion.
Q: What is the inspiration behind ADORE?
I have always been involved in fashion in some way. With a father in the fashion business, a mother who taught me to sew, a strong will towards self expression, and as an avid shopper with a keen eye and a love of a bargain, this type of business was my destiny. I also love old films, and the glamour portrayed from the 30s, 40s and 50s is something I like to try and evoke from time to time. I think that is why I have many photos of film stars and style icons on the walls of the Cary store.
Q: How would you describe ADORE's vision for the local retail and fashion 'scape, as well as for local fashionistas?
Nothing shows happiness and self-pride more than trying to look your best. If you cannot ADORE yourself, how can you appreciate and adore others? We want to show our local friends that it is OK to sport that bling, carry that expensive bag or wear that cutting-edge fashion here in the Triangle. You dont have to wait to go to Vegas or New York to bring out the fashionista in you. What will people think? should not be as important as Do I love this? and Does it make me feel good?
Q: How has ADORE put its mark on local fashion?
ADORE has made it possible for our local friends to have the chance to wear perhaps some higher-end clothing, or a different type of clothing and/or accessories that they might not normally have bought retail. Also, because we have out of town consignors several from New York there is an opportunity to definitely find things at ADORE that you just could not find locally. For instance, one of our New York consignors shops exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and Huntington, and those stores carry way more inventory than our Saks in Raleigh. Her things are very popular¬ some consignors even ask when her next shipment will be. We really want people to know that they can sport some glamour and make themselves stand out without breaking the bank. We also love to get involved with different charities and fashion events and occasionally also have special events at the store. One such event was Bling Night, and it was very successful. It consisted of a sale of 20% off all jewelry, a lady jeweler there paying top dollar for customers scrap gold, snacks and our signature ADORE White Cosmopolitan Martinis. It was crowded and very fun. Several customers have asked when the next one will be; so we are planning another one very soon!
Q: You were extremely involved in fashionSPARK this year both as a sponsor and as valued hands-on volunteers. Tell us about that ambition and experience.
Being from New York, Rob and I missed the urban music, art and fashion scene and wanted to be more of a "vehicle" to merge Cary and Raleigh a bit more hence our excitement to be part of the SPARKcon event. We need to let people know we are not all bland, cookie cutter types here in Cary, and although we love it here, we love the whole Triangle as well. We met so many other great people who volunteered their time, and we look forward to future collaborations. Meeting Aly Khalifa, the energetic force behind the whole of SPARKcon, and Katie Little, who was the ever-positive stylist behind fashionSPARK, was truly inspirational. The excitement a passion for art of any kind can cause is truly electric.
Q: What local designers does ADORE emphasize with its current collection?
Currently we have a gorgeous dress on display by the local design house of Jess Pati, whose collection wowed me when I saw it on the runway this year truly amazing and elegant. We plan on having a few of their cocktail dresses available for sale in November. Also available are the ingenious jewelry creations from Good Girl Studio (I personally have become a collector). They are all reworked pieces from vintage jewelry and antiques that are blingy and playful, with the bonus of each coming infused with the great vibe of its designer, Johanna. We are also thrilled to be featuring mollybeads elegant jewelry. Her vibrant colors and interchangeable pendants are stunning. We had a display of hers in our window in honor of fashionSPARK, and we didnt even have the time to price them before a customer came in and begged to buy them all which, after a quick phone call, we did!
Q: With a focus on high-end designers and boutique items, how do you remain accessible to your customers in this economy?
About 70 to 75 percent of our inventory is resale; the base we use for pricing it starts at about 30 percent of retail, and some high-end items sell for much less than that. Many of our customers know their labels and look for such quality and realize the bargain theyre getting. We also have a large inventory of things that are in the $20 range for people who dont want to leave empty-handed and are maybe not as concerned with designer labels. We also have price reductions all the time on merchandise that has been on the floor awhile, as well as special sales and promotions. We are lucky to get some fabulous deals on new merchandise, and we do not mark up from our cost as much as regular stores do because we need to keep moving things out to make room for all the things that are brought in daily. Many of our consignors are some of our best customers. They use their credit from what they have made selling in ADORE to purchase as well.
Q: With a goal of helping your customers look posh for less, how does the consignment aspect of your concept play into that?
In a shop like ADORE, you are literally paying a fraction of the retail price of an item. Resale shopping is much more accepted these days. In fact, it is looked at as an intelligent decision; for, not only are you saving money, but you are participating in recycling. Many of the items consigned have never been worn and still have the tags on. Also, many of the items that are higher end were not as mass-produced and are of higher quality. I personally have always had a lot in my own closet and can put many different looks and outfits together. This is because, although a shopaholic, I have shopped very wisely, and consignment and resale was a big part of this.
Q: What does the essential ADORE dresser look like?
This is a tough one! We get all ages and sizes in our shop. I can tell you that most all of them are so friendly and engaging. Our sales staff, Allison and Mary Lou, have a great time with our customers. Many come back in just to see them [our staff] or to have them put together an outfit for a last minute event. I think because we try to individually help each customer if they want it and if we are not super crowded, we have become known for service. But as for the look we wish all customers had? Well that would be the confidence that they like what theyre wearing and feel their outfit conveys their personality.
Q: ADORE's collection conveys a marked emphasis on unique accessories and their ability to distinguish a dresser. What accessory is a must-have?
A great handbag and a piece of bold standout jewelry and a smile can never hurt.
Q: What is the focus of your fall collection?
We are seeing a lot of charcoal grays, with pops of color using jewelry, scarves and bags. There are some fabulous beaded sheaths that can be worn as cocktail dresses or with leggings or skinny jeans and the longer (knee-length) sweater coats are super big. They are starting to sell like mad!
Q: And a glimpse at winter?
Winter coats are already coming in, and we also plan on having some more furs real and faux. No brand-new real furs, though. Were over that, as there are enough used ones to go around for years so no more harm to the animals. And dont forget boots, boots and more boots! We love them!
Q: What does the future of ADORE look like?
We are in the process of looking for an additional store in the Raleigh area and then wish to open [a third store] somewhere else in the Triangle. We are also looking forward to our online store, which is almost all ready, and it is going to focus on the high-end and collectiblethings that are made in such a way that cannot be replicated today. We also have some fun ideas for some charity events that were thinking of, as well as some great collaborations with some fab people in the fashion and arts!