Fashion director for Saks shares inspiration sources, trends and more

By Lottie Watts

Saks Fifth Avenue Senior Vice President and Fashion Director Roopal Patel gives insights into her role, shares where she finds her inspiration and highlights a couple of trends she’s expecting to see.

Here are a few questions, along with Patel’s answers (watch the video above for all “20 Questions”):

What did you do in college to help you get to where you are today?

When I went to New York University, I went to study law, and halfway through my sophomore year, I decided I wanted to be in fashion.

I took jobs at the local Urban Outfitters and internships throughout my education and came to this place of wanting to be in this industry. You had to forge your own path and find your own way.

What excites you about retail and why is this the industry you picked for your career?

I’ve always loved retail. My parents used to take us to the stores and shopping, and I was mesmerized by the windows, the mannequins and the clothes.

When I think of retail, it’s about an experience. It’s all about the senses. It’s about that overall experience. It’s where clothing comes to life and you can escape into someone else’s world.

In your role as fashion director for Saks, where do you find your inspiration?

When I go out on the streets of New York City, I see what people are wearing, how they’re wearing it and how they’re putting it together. When I travel, I find so much inspiration. It’s about everything that’s happening around you – whether it’s from art, literature, music.

What are the trends you’re expecting to see in 2021?

We’re seeing a lot of what we’re calling “cozy dressing” with different takes on knitwear – this idea of being protected, covered and cocooned. And great statement outerwear: puffers, capes, parkas.

As we’re in pre-spring market, we’re starting to see everything from ball gowns to fancy, high heels to a lot of green. Green is everywhere – pastels and happy clothes.

What advice do you have for students or recent graduates as they begin their careers?

It’s so important to be clear in what it is that you’re looking for. As you’re on your job search, take the time to do your research. Know what part of the industry you’re looking to interview for and understand who does it best and who you want to work for.

Loving clothes is so much a part of why we’re in fashion, but it’s so important to know how you can contribute to the fashion industry. Do some more homework on how you feel like you can make your mark before walking into an interview.

Join us in New York City in January for the return of the NRF Foundation’s in-person undergraduate programming. Sign up to get updates so you can be the first to know when registration opens for this incredible opportunity to accelerate your career in retail.

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