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Like I Give a Frock

Posted: 07/16/2009 3:40 pm

When we first started Gilt Groupe, our invitation-only website that sells luxury fashion at a steep discount, I turned to my co-founder Alexis Maybank, and said, "What do you think the office dress code should be?"

Alexis, a Silicon Valley professional in a pencil skirt, had come from eBay and AOL, where she assured me she had never had to follow an office dress code. I'd come from Louis Vuitton where I wore interlocking LV's from heel to handbag and while on a stint at Bulgari only wore their (very nice) jewelry and watches.

We decided not to enforce a dress code at our New York HQ and if there was a fashion emergency down the road, we would deal with it then.

As Gilt Groupe has grown to a 200+ person firm we adore the personal style of every employee. And just like high school there are fashion cliques.

The blokes in our warehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard are the coolest distribution guys in Kidrobot tees and John Varvatos jackets, of course, all bought on Gilt.

Our creative director Leah Park arrives at work in white Converse sneakers and like Wonder Woman pulls a pair of strappy silver Manolo Blahnik's out from under her desk and she's suddenly a show-stopping, iMac-clicking genius and fashion plate.

And our fashion buyers are a perilously on-trend gaggle who not only make the best deals in the business they own their style -- in micro minis, swinging tops and layers of Vera Wang jewels.

But it's the engineers who deserve a special shout out. The first time I met the brains who built our Gilt Groupe website I was wearing a Christian Lacroix three-quarter length jacket, sublimely-tailored Alvin Valley pants and ridiculously high Louis Vuitton platform shoes. To be honest, I think they were slightly aghast.

But now I feel they're accustomed to their new fashionable milieu. Our engineers arrive at orientation in denims and, horror of horrors, comfortable-looking shoes and within a few Red Bull-fueled months they're decked in Dolce & Gabbana. They can also spot a crimson Christian Louboutin sole at a hundred paces. I challenge any other IT department to do the same!

It was at the Gilt Halloween party last Fall that I realized that the whole dress code kerfuffle would just crush our nimble worker's creativity. One of our key executives came as a realistic Karl Lagerfeld, we had two perfect John Gallianos and a buyer as a convincing Coco Channel.

It takes a lot of fashion irregulars to make the business world tick, but gosh, I love working in it. Did I mention while typing this I'm wearing a Gilt-sourced, shoulder-bearing silk chiffon Milly dress with a peppermint and coral paisley print? Of course, I got this frock from work. Talk about business with benefits.

 
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