I was told about the Robinsons’ personal shopper service at their flagship store Robinsons The Heeren not long ago. It came in the form of a press release. The service was free, and specifically stated customers were not under any obligation to buy even after using the service. Sounded like they were pretty confident of what they could offer, as well as being genuine about the service. Having been stuck in a wardrobe rut for quite a while — I have a favourite skirt which I have been wearing for the last 15 years — and undergoing a bit of a worklife change, I jumped at the chance to try this out. I was hoping to get my wardrobe refreshed (a few more tops, other colours aside from black and neutrals, something a bit more fun beyond T-shirts), and get a different perspective of what worked for me and what didn’t.
So I got onto the Robinsons website and booked an appointment, not as a writer but as an ordinary customer. (Which means this post is totally not sponsored in any way.)
According to the website, there were four personal shoppers in the team. But there was no option for me to choose who I wanted to work with. The booking form on the website asked a little about my requirements and basic info — age, gender, objective, colour preferences — but that was it.
Later that day, I received an email from one of the personal shoppers — a lady called Ysabel Tao. We arranged an appointment for a week later. I thought she would continue the conversation to find out more about what I wanted out of the session – perhaps something about what I was looking for from this session, my wardrobe problems, my personality perhaps? But no. She just wanted a firm date and time. I was rather surprised by the brevity of the phone call. When she rung off, I was a bit skeptical, but still I decided to keep an open mind.
So the day came and I wandered up to the third floor. She was waiting for me and ushered me into a private room, or shall I say, a rather large and classy looking salon. A couple of sofas sat in the middle round a coffee table, her desk in a corner and a few racks of clothes stood on three sides of the room. It was comfy and didn’t look out of place in a reality makeover TV show. Ysabel was friendly and polite. I was eager to get to business.
She had already picked up a rack of clothes for me to consider, but I kinda felt it jumped the gun somewhat since she didn’t really know what I was about. So I started telling her first what I had wanted from this shopping session — clothes for a bit of a lifestyle change, smart casual stuff that I lacked, nothing that looked too corporate, plus no frills please. She listened and I think digested what I had said, then proceeded to show me one by one the pieces she had picked.
After that, it was trying on time, and that corner of the room was curtained off into a large fitting room. As expected there were hits and misses, but except for a few pieces that I knew I would never ever wear, I was determined to keep an open mind and try the bulk of what she picked. You never know until you try it out.
As we went along, the conversation became more relaxed, and she often asked my thoughts on each of the pieces I tried. Meanwhile, she would give lots of tips on what could be done with those clothes, and what I could attempt. She wasn’t pushy at all, and when some items were just undeniable disasters, she would readily agree too with a grimace. As Ysabel became more familiar with what suited me and the extent to which I was ready to be challenged, she had her assistant bring more pieces in and they were more in line with what I liked. I saw a few items on the other racks in the room, and tried those too. It was nice that the session was free and easy, and at no time did I feel hampered or obliged to just stick to what she had picked. I figured by doing so, it perhaps also helped her figure me out.
By the end of our two hours, I probably tried twice as many that I had initially seen on the rack. I had also discovered some surprises in the form of clothes I wouldn’t have picked out for myself but which actually worked in the end including a super dramatic black dress which I loved, but wouldn’t have any place to wear it to.
My final haul was five outfits which cost me just over $500 — quite a steal, considering some were on sale, plus the added luxury of it being a personalised shopping session cum wardrobe workshop, on account of the many tips and advice Ysabel generously doled out. I appreciated that she didn’t push me to buy more, and in fact, offered some practical views instead. For instance, when I was tempted to buy that dramatic dress, she did wisely suggest that it may not be worth buying if I didn’t have an occasion to wear it.
Would I recommend this service or make use of it again? A resounding yes. I figure that the more often I get Ysabel to help with my shopping, the more spot-on her picks would be as she becomes more familiar with me.
The Robinsons Personal Shopper service is especially suited for those who don’t enjoy walking about the shopfloor too much, or those who, like me, want to refresh their wardrobe. This service is also good for tweens who are transitioning from kiddie-dom to teenager, and for teens who are struggling with figuring out their style. (Note to self: send daughter there during year-end holidays.)
What’s more, this service isn’t just limited to clothes — it extends to finding gifts, home ware, make up, and whatever else is available in the store. The only thing is, you should be prepared to speak up about what you want and take the initiative to share your needs, preferences, etc with the shopper to get the most out of the session. The more you share, the more it helps them help you.
And finally, just in case you are wondering, Ysabel isn’t just any personal shopper. She was formally from Club 21, and holds a Bachelors degree in Design in Fashion Marketing & Management.
When I finally left (after paying with the Robinsons credit card), I had two bags of great shopping, a bottle of Champers and a couple of treats in the form of vouchers.
I’ll be back. 🙂