“Every single person who works for me still has to be able to sell.”
Parlour X founder Eva Galambos is the Australian designer retail icon we look up to.
Parlour X stocks some of the world’s biggest luxury brands including Fendi, Valentino and Vetements. How did you get your start?
There is no question, the experience that I gained in the industry has helped my business, from starting in retail at the age of 15. Or I have to say 14 and nine months when I was allowed to be employed.
Cultivating that career through working my way through different companies, living abroad in London and gathering experience there as well and bringing it back here.
I worked for Armani in the UK for many years. I did weekend workshops and did meet and work alongside Mr Armani. I was in my early 20s. That was a massive and huge experience and turning point in my career in terms of understanding and learning what luxury fashion retailing is about.
What distinguished service and sale to a luxury client. I had princesses, princes and lords. I was dressing Eric Clapton and his team for a performance he was doing. I still to this day believe that training in the UK is still second to none in the whole wide world.
What makes a good retailer based on what you learned?
Retail in the UK is a profession, it’s a career. It’s not seeing as a stepping stone in the same way it is here. Everyone who works for Parlour X has sales as their first and foremost priority. We’ve got a communications department, a team of four people, a creaitve team, also have our buying and operations. Every single person who works for me still has to be able to sell and still, every now again, be called down to work in sales. I will never ever employ anyone who can not double up and work in sales or does not come from a sales background.
What was the turning point?
My two most important jobs that I held in the UK were Armani and French Connection. We’re talking the early to mid 90s, when French Connection was paving the way for high street retailing. This was their hay day. They also owned Nicole Farhi, who I also worked for, most premier luxury at the time. I did both and learned and understood about high street fashion and wholesale, as well as London luxury.
For the Armani Group, I worked directly in retail and they sent me to weekend workshops to learn about sales, fabric awareness and construction, so we could undesrtand the ins and outs. I worked at a time where fashion was taking very seriously.
What was the original business model?
My background is in the arts. I have a degree in the fine arts and I worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art from the day they opened in muesum education. I have always been obsessed with the concept of fashion as art, so I wanted to open a gallery-style boutique. I opened it in Five Ways, Paddington, and took over a small gallery space. I always wanted to be a curater.
What is an important lesson you learned?
The market did not dictate my original vision. One of the first brands that I stocked was Vivienne Westwood. Westwood was really important to the dcurating artistic brands. They weren’t wanting, it was too radical for Sydney and Australia. We were still quite conservative.
The people coming in were saying they loved the concept, but they were asking for something diluted.
So I went back to find what the market dictated so for me, having commercial merit and viability is paramount. You have to compromise a little bit and listen to the market. You can start to develop creative ideas around bringing the market what they’re wanting but still holding your original vision.
That’s still what I do.