Hello dear friends! Once again I greet you all from a surprisingly chilly Antigua Guatemala! However, a week ago I was basking in the Miami sun while attending the LAFS Miami 2023 Fashion and Design Summit. Loom Tree was actually invited to participate this year as the organizers expressed interest in expanding their scope to include Latin American interior design. However, as Loom Tree has never done anything like this before, I decided against going as a participant. I did decide to attend the summit as a patron so I could see what it was all about, and possibly participate next year. I am sorry to say that despite them telling me there would be more of a platform for interior designers this year, there was in fact none as the event focused entirely on the fashion industry. However, I still commend the LAFS organizers for a very interesting event with some truly enlightening speakers and panels. Although the event did not speak specifically to me as a textile designer, it did speak more broadly about the design industry over all, and proved to me once more that what we are doing here at Loom Tree has value! So today dear friends I would like to share with you some of the insights I've picked up under the Miami sun.
From the many events, speeches, and panels presented by LAFS this year, my personal favorite was a panel hosted by the dean of Fashion Design for the Istituto Marangoni, Keanan Duffty, on the state of global retail. While I'll get to what was said in a minute, I just want to point out that my mother (from whom I inherited my eye for design) attended the Istituto Marangoni in Milan when I was just a little girl. She would travel three hours by train to attend classes in fashion design, all while still holding down a full-time job and raising a family. I also started out in fashion design, and while my own design practice has morphed into textile design, I still credit my mom so much for my design philosophy today. Anyway, back to the present. During dean Duffty's panel he spoke of the anxiety and preoccupation we in the world of retail had during the pandemic. Questions like "what is the future of retail?" and "will physical retail stores become obsolete?" permeated our minds as we watched the push to online remote shopping become stronger and stronger. Even here at Loom Tree we made every attempt to try and replace our physical show-room with a digital one in hopes of surviving the "inevitable fall of in-person shopping." Well, dear friends, as it turns out we were worrying about nothing!
Throughout the LAFS summit a common theme emerged: not only are in-person retail stores not dying, they are actually experiencing a resurgence. It would seem that after a couple years of buying everything online people started to really miss the experiences that in-person shopping provides. Being able to experience, learn about, and really feel a product goes a long way. Add to that a warm and welcoming customer service and you have yourself a winning recipe. However, this resurgence is not being felt equally in the world of retail. While small businesses that focus on providing special and detailed products are growing, the same cannot be said for the big department-stores. Indeed a common consensus amongst the attendees of the LAFS summit this year is that small businesses like ours have great potential for growth in the coming years, while the big mass-producers are in for some stormy skies. For someone who has often worried about the growth of soul-less corporations here in Latin America, this is very welcome news indeed!
Leaving the warmth of Miami behind I came home to find Antigua engulfed in a particularly cold spell. While its normal for us to have a drop in temperature this time of year, the last few days have been particularly chilly. Nevertheless, my spirits could not be brought down. Over the last few days we here at Loom Tree have been using the beautiful fireplace we have, creating a lovely and cozy atmosphere. Attracted by the warmth and comfort emanating from our shop, people came in and immediately commented on how nice and cozy it was. Needless to say it was one of our best days this month, proving that providing a good experience for people is just as important as producing a good product!
With all this said we here at Loom Tree will continue with our efforts to provide you, our dear friends, with the best online experience we can possibly provide, and we commit to grow our online services as best we can. But just know that if you're ever in Antigua the in-person experience of Loom Tree far exceeds what you can get on your screen!
Have a wonderful day everyone, and see you all in Antigua!