If you’re not following Barneys fashion director Amanda Brooks on Twitter, you’re missing out on a view into one of the coolest stores in the luxury fashion space. So last night, when Barneys celebrated the re-opening of the freshly overhauled CO-OP space in its New York flagship, we asked Brooks a few questions about her 140-character musings on style and shopping.
Styleite: Yesterday a reporter sort of made fun of Bergdorfs for expanding its social media team. Do you think it’s —
Amanda Brooks: Why did they make fun of them?
Styleite: Well, they’re hiring a social media coordinator. They called it the “Murray Hill ingenue’s dream job.”
Styleite: Do you think it’s important for retailers like Barneys, like Bergdorfs, like Saks, to have a social media presence?
Brooks: I think it’s important for anybody with a brand to have a social media presence. But I also think it’s the same challenge as anything else. I think it’s a very fine line between being editorial and commercial, and balancing that is always the ultimate. I thnk you have to do it authentically… But the nature of social media is personal, and for a big company it’s hard to be so personal, you’re looking to be more commercial… I do tweet on the weekends about what I’m doing at my country house and swimming in the sea in November. I do go off topic on the weekends because, I just think it’s a bit boring to just talk about product, product, product, product, product.
Styleite: So where’s the line for you between being too personal and too commercial?
Brooks: I guess in my brain, I always think, “What does this offer?” I don’t tweet about my kids, but if it’s the weekend, I tweet about style, lifestyle … I might take a tweet of the place setting that I did for lunch that day, or a beautiful view or just something that’s inspiring.
Styleite: Granted, Barneys is not an inexpensive place to shop.
Brooks: Yes. It’s all relative.
Styleite: Yes. You have what’s affordable for one person and you have what’s affordable for another person. But Twitter only makes consumption more conspicuous if you’re sending it out there to thousands of people. In light of people being critical of conspicious consumption and criticzing the way the 1% shop and the way they live, do you try to temper what you tweet, or are you just trying to just represent what’s normal for you?
Brooks: I think for a fashion director I’m incredibly conservative in what I buy. So I feel like, yes I’m very lucky, I’ve worked very hard to afford designer clothes… I love to shop, I probably spend more money on clothes than I should, but I feel like I can be honest and not be offensive. Like it’s true to myself. I’m not a crazy shopaholic who’s buying a Celine bag every week. But I probably buy a Celine bag a season, you know? Today I bought a pair of Chanel espadrilles. They’re $375 retail, and with our employee discount significantly less than that. I feel like I can do it honestly and not be offensive about spending money on clothing. I feel good about how much money I spend on clothing. I support the company, I support the brands I like. I always have a few new things, but I really have always bought pretty classic clothes and I have no qualms about wearing something that’s last season or the season before or five years old or ten years old.
Styleite: So, finally, what is on your Christmas wish list and your Christmas shopping list?
Unfortunately I already know my Christmas present from my husband because he and I both like to choose our own presents. But hopefully I’m getting the Ann Dexter Jones ID bracelet in silver with the gold plate. And I really want like an Adrian Landau fur throw. They have one in fox and one like a kind of leopard print, probably rabbit or something. What else? I feel like I always shop for myself, so I wouldn’t want anyone to buy me clothes. Do you want to know what I’m going to give?
Brooks: I’m not pushing product — I really think this is so brilliant. At Chelsea Passage we have this new Fred’s line of packaged food. They have this incredible jar of amazing natural peanut butter. And pots of jam and Barney’s tea… Just incredible food gifts that I think I’m going to buy in bulk, and then every time I go to a Christmas party or somebody’s house for the weekend, I’m going give them out. It’s oddly personal — even though it’s branded by a store, it’s oddly personal to give a beautiful jar of peanut butter of, like a giant old jam jar full of amazing jam. That’s what I’m going to give for Christmas.
Jam, for everyone!