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Truman Says

Buyer's Guide: Nicole Miller of Blackbird

What makes your store--and what you offer--special and different? Who do you see as your customer?

It may sound strange but the Blackbird customer could be anyone. People seem to see this store as whatever they want it to be. I work to honor the individual and simply give them a great selection of items to choose from and make their own. Blackbird offers five different price levels and that's what makes us different. Most stores carry one, and if they add on they tend to buy those new brands differently. We simply buy everything the same. Dark and with great value.

What trends did you notice for the fall/winter 2010 season? Were there any you were particularly excited about? Are there any that you were less-than-thrilled to see?

The strongest trends I saw for fall/winter 2010 are non-denim bottoms, like chinos and wool pants, but also anything cropped, baggy or with an interesting design element. Pants are back. Denim is pretty boring right now.

Who are your favorite designers? Why?

My favorite designers are the ones that innovate enough to create an authentic, progressive and thoughtful products that have value but stay true to their branding. Season after season the people that can accomplish this feat always seems to change. Diet Butcher Slim Skin from Japan create many original designs that end up trickling down to less talented designers and mainstream fashion. They're my all-time favorite.

Are there any newer or lesser-known brands you discovered this season that you're excited about? Are there any emerging labels you'd recommend we keep an eye out for?

Whillas and Gunn is very exciting. The brand comes from a guy whose family owns a 40-year-old work-wear label from Australia, so the production and fit is incredible.

What are your must-haves for this season?

I'm not a big consumer. Maybe because I am buying stuff all day that it simply doesn't interest me so much. If I did have a 'must have' it might be some Rick Owens shoes but nobody needs those, they are all fantasy.

How do men shop differently than women? What do you, as a buyer, keep in mind when placing orders for your customer?

In general men and women shop very differently. Men shop at one store and don't want to go to another and women want to shop around. Men are far more gracious and greatful than women. But since this is Out Magazine, I'd like to say that this those roles tend to be all mixed up in the gay community.

Any suggestions for neighborhood places to eat, shop, and check out when they shop at your store?

We send everyone to eat at La Carta de Oaxaca, a regional mexican restaurant that is unlike anything you would expect. People should also check out Souvenir and Lucca which at outstanding gift shops similar to John Derian. Ballard is an outstanding place to spend the day.


Photos by Darren Schopperle/ Blackbird

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