Opening the 10-foot steel door to enter Need Supply Co. in Carytown sets a tone of importance for the experience that awaits. Your stomach flutters; did you come prepared for this level of decorum? Are you up to snuff on your fashion vocabulary? What constitutes a culotte?
Fortunately, the store’s interior room quickly soothes any anxiety. The main room is a wide-open space, marked by a serene set up of geometric brass hangers and a long, Last Supper-worthy central wooden table.
Goods are spread out neatly, allowing browsing customers to take items in one at a time.
The store invites you to breathe easy.
With offices in Los Angeles, brick-and-mortar stores in Richmond and Japan, and a partnership with Seattle-based retailer Totokaelo (Toe-dough-KI-oh) that gives the brand reach in Seattle and New York City, Need Supply Co. is often cited as the poster child of success in Richmond retail.
But the seriousness of the flagship’s door is not a misstep in design—you will be receiving a seriously in-depth education as a part of your shopping experience.
The Need Supply staff that knows the store’s selection of NEED items (the store’s name brand) and select designers for men and women like the back of their hand, so while names like Calvin Klein and Gosha Rubchinskiy pull people in, Richmond Store Manager Christina Campitell says Need Supply aims to have customers that leave with new knowledge as well as new clothes.
“We used to re-sell vintage denim, and there’s kind of a romance that we started that way, and now we offer some of the best designers in the world,” Campitell said. “For us, the reason we’re offering names like Calvin Klein in our store is to give that recognizable name, and get people to come into the store for that product, but then be able to introduce them to eight different things that they’ve never experienced.”
For those who are interested in apparel that falls somewhere between trendy and timeless, Need Supply’s mix aims to please. The flagship store’s selection has a finger on the pulse on many top spring trends, with plenty of romantic ruffles (like those seen in the SS17 collections of Gucci and Karen Walker) and ultra-trendy mules to choose from, while also holding its ground on the classics: clean lines, plain T’s, and crisp neutral colors.
The store’s own NEED Vacation collection, made in collaboration with New York-based artist Otto Milo and inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s travels through Havana, Cuba, blends trendiness with timeless basics just in time for a warm-weather getaway. With soft pinks, breezy blazers and the occasional hint of a floral print, the collection holds true to Need Supply’s simple-chic brand while tipping a hat to the 2017 Cuban-inspired resort collections of Valentino.
With this spring’s biggest trend in clothing being the color yellow (as seen in the Spring 2017 collections of Chloé, Emilio Pucci, and Hermès Mens Campitell had an immediate suggestion for her spring favorite.
“This piece right here is my go-to right now,” she said, pulling a bright yellow Dries Van Noten embroidered bomber jacket out from the rack dedicated to the designer, by far the most colorful and luxurious section of womenswear in the store.
And lest we forget that fashion doesn’t end at the hem of your jeans, the Life and Beauty section at the back of the store has a careful selection of ceramics, skincare and makeup for all customer preferences. For a fresh off the runway look, “gloss everything,” Campitell said, giving a nod to the utter dominance of highlighter, slicked lips, and, um, the entire skincare and makeup brand Glossier on fashionable faces.
“Makeup looks got so matte before that now everything is just going as glossy as possible,” she said, suggesting the face gloss by MAKE.
For even more lessons in fashion, you can visit Need Supply Co. at their online retail and blog, where you can also keep an eye out for future in-store events to schmooze it up and expand your fashion vocab.
Words and photos by Gabriella Lacombe