LOCATED in Gateway Plaza, Alter EGO is described by owner and styling director Danielle Donaldson as her 'baby' — and this infant is just about ready to celebrate its very first birthday. For shoppers in the know, proprietor and store are inextricably linked — her eclectic personal style explodes in this treasure trove of texture, print and intense pops of colour.
As we count down to the Jamaica Observer Takes Style Out — that mythical Thursday (September 19) we can't stop gushing about, when we celebrate all things style, make shopping a gladiator sport, and add just that little boost to our local economy — Curt Cawley takes a look at Alter EGO...
What's the genesis of your store's name?
It was so hard to find a name for the store that my friends literally had to intervene. They actually came up with the name Alter EGO; my erratic personal style — which changes with my mood — being its inspiration.
How long have you been in the retail industry?
I actually started out in wholesale. I would supply Kingston retailers with wholesale items from my base in Miami, where I lived for some time. Overall, I've been in the business for about six years, and as far as being an independent retailer, a year and a half. Alter EGO itself will be a year old next month, and I started retailing about six months
prior to Alter EGO's opening.
So we're still a baby.
What keeps you interested in the business of fashion?
I absolutely love fashion, particularly fabrics and prints. It's not so much the style or the design that does it for me. If you take a glance around the shop you'd be hard-pressed to find two articles of clothing that share the same colour; that's because I've handpicked every single item for its uniqueness. I'm passionate about patterns and textures, and that's what keeps me motivated. Fashion also appeals to me as I'm always re-inventing and re-vamping. Before I got so involved in the industry, I was a DIY queen; I'd turn a dress into a skirt or secure
gems to my shoes and bags. I really love ingenuity.
How would you describe your personal style?
OMG!, where do I begin? My style is really a reflection of my mood. When my friends and I are going out on the town, they'll ask me, "What are you wearing?" and without fail I never have a clue. But there will come a point in the dressing-up process where my whimsy takes over and I start re-purposing. A shirt becomes a skirt with its sleeves tied into a bow at the waist. A dress is worn backward, and a white party's dress code transforms into an irreverent all-black-everything look. I also love vintage — if I could be reborn in a bygone era, it would probably be the 1950s or 1960s.
What lines do you carry?
We carry a wide range of lines including local designers. We currently have Bag Lady, Miss J, Feet of Angels, Wild/Free Swimwear, among others. We also carry select pieces from Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, H&M, Anne Klein, Rubber Duckie Designs, and Duro Olowu — a new Nigerian designer that I love. His ethnic prints are to die for! That said, the inventory at Alter EGO isn't exclusively geared toward the aspirational shopper — we have something for everyone.
How would you describe the Alter EGO woman?
The Alter EGO woman is a young professional, a sexy sophisticate, she can be bohemian, she can be avant-garde, and more importantly she is a trendsetter. The demographic ranges from the ages of 29 thru 37. She wants to have some sex appeal but being appropriate is important, as she is also career-oriented.
What can customers expect from Alter EGO on Thursday, September 19, when the Jamaica Observer Takes Style Out?
We are introducing a charity project called 'Style/Weight' where customers are encouraged to bring in their wardrobe rejects, have them weighed and get the price equivalent in discounts. So, if you were to bring in 10 lbs of clothing, you'd get $1,000 off your purchase — it's a $100 discount per pound of donated clothing. However, the maximum weight allowed per person will be 25 pounds, which will make that discount valued at $2,500. The best part is, all donated clothing will go to the Wortley Home, but as a disclaimer, we'll only accept gently worn garments, so please don't bring anything you wouldn't wear yourself.
What are some of the activities shoppers can look forward to on Thursday, September 19?
We're going to have all our sponsors out to provide refreshment, music and a red carpet fashion show for our TSO shoppers. We really want to kick things up a notch and take our customers beyond the regular Jamaican shopping experience. This means even if you had no plans of making any purchases, still come out for the entertainment value, you'll be glad you did.
Share a few retail tips for Thursday, September 19.
Come out early on Thursday, September 19 and shop; whatever you miss, you can return for over the weekend. I would also suggest that shoppers buy smartly and not go overboard. There is that particular school of thought that once the item is on sale you need it. Trust me, you don't. Remember, you have bills to pay as well as other obligations. I say it all the time, "Shopping is a want, not a need."
What do you expect to be the major trend or must-have for Jamaica Observer Takes Style Out?
Accessories. They don't go out of style or season, and they're totally versatile. You can vamp up or play down any outfit with the right accessories. Every woman should have a LBD in her closet, a maxi dress or skirt and, oh, Spanxx shapewear — those are always a must-have.
Shop 3, Gateway Plaza
157 Constant Spring Road