Jane Shepherdson Talks Whistles’ USA Invasion

Posted Friday May 30, 2014 7:51 AM GMT

She’s bored with American office apparel and Jane Shepherdson hopes to rescue women in the USA with her new line of apparel.

The Whistles CEO paid her dues under Sir Philip Green at Topshop and ever since she’s built the once-ailing women’s clothing retailer into a strong company.

Shepherdson told Fast Company, “When we started, Whistles was channeling a bit of a boho thing. Our vision was to create something that was effortless, trend driven, and that provides solutions. ‘Solutions’ is kind of a horrible word, but we wanted to make clothes that were absolutely contemporary but totally appropriate for the kinds of events where you often end up dressing like someone else. You don’t have to look like your mother in law.”

As for how she achieved such dramatic success, Jane explained, “My starting point was slightly different from most people who run businesses. I was a buyer for a long time, so I come from the creative side. All I want to do is create the most beautiful, perfect things that I myself would want to wear. For me, that’s success. Success is creating something that’s so much better than anybody anticipated or expected. And that was certainly the case with Topshop. We were given total freedom to do whatever, and it worked. And then the profits started coming in and we thought, ‘Hang on a minute! This is amazing!’”

Now, Shepherdson has launched rollouts in three Bloomingdales stores here in the States, with plans for more expansion over the coming months. “I think it has an incredible mix of the right contemporary brands. And also, incredible [foot traffic]. It’s rare to find a department store that combines fashion with huge mass appeal. If it can work here...it’s a barometer, I suppose. Also, they’ve got 68 stores around the U.S. We don’t only want to see if we can work in New York, we also want to see if we can work elsewhere, which I’m guessing will be very different.”

And she promises to give ladies plenty of wear-to-work goodies that reflect their own flavors. “Right, that they’re not representing themselves. I want a woman to be able to just grab a Whistles piece from closet, throw it on, and look amazing. [To feel like] she doesn’t even have to think about it, that it’s not difficult. I also want her to feel like she’s going to stand out just a little bit. Whistles should provide a core wardrobe of pieces that are just easy, comfortable.”

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