By Emily Bastaroli, Point Park News Service:
A blue blouse with gold buttons glimmers in the fall sun in Oakland, drawing Brittany Bauer to come closer. It hangs on a rack of colorful clothes outside of a bright purple truck.
The truck holds even more fashion treasures from patterned dresses and sweaters, to workout gear, hand-made jewelry and expensive-looking handbags. On this particular day, there was a cat dress that stood out to Bauer.
“The clothes outside on the racks originally caught my eye,” Bauer said. “They enticed me to walk inside the truck.”
The Style Truck is just one of four fashion-mobiles popping up around the city of Pittsburgh, bringing style and clothes to local fashionistas. Like popular food trucks, fashion-mobiles travel on four wheels and bring their goods to customers, rather than customers coming to them.
Jackee Ging, 47, of Scott Township, was one of the first women to launch her fashion truck in Pittsburgh. After seeing a New York fashion truck in InStyle Magazine a year ago, Ging decided to start one in her city.
“It seems to be a trend popping up in different cities,” Ging said at a Strip District spot, near 23rd Street and Penn Avenue. “I thought the idea was brilliant.”
Ging initially sold her merchandise at private and charity events, including last year’s Holiday Market in Market Square, but then “pimped out” a truck to accommodate travels around the city
The truck now looks like a boutique with cabinets built into both sidewalls and shelves for jewelry displays along with a fitting room and hardwood floors.
With a background in marketing, Ging conducted all of the marketing research and merchandising herself, buying clothes one or two seasons in advance.
She buys her merchandise from American, fair trade or local designers and retailers, and attends a trade show in New York. Her jewelry is made by designers from Uniontown and Mt. Lebanon.
“I’m trying to support as much women and local businesses as possible,” Ging said in between greeting customers.
The Style Truck’s customers are women on-the-go who are used to traveling frequently. She said they appreciate one-of-a-kind fashion and are “tired of chain stores.”
This is also something Bauer appreciates and loves about the Style Truck. She even visited the Style Truck for a second time to buy an orange coat she saw on its Facebook page.
“It’s just so cute and unique,” Bauer said. “There’s a big variety — something I could wear, something my mother could wear. The prices are good. I know I’m getting good quality. I know I’ll get a good wear out of [the clothes].”
Samantha Lugo’s Broke Little Rich Girl truck has a slightly different clientele.
Lugo, a 20-something Manhattan native, said her typical client is between the ages of 18 and 40 and is looking for a mix of trendy, contemporary, edgy and girly clothes and accessories.
“I fill my truck up with stuff I’d want to wear,” Lugo said, pulling studded jackets and pants off the racks for emphasis.
She was dressed in a bright, turquoise T-shirt with Marilyn Monroe’s glamour shot, black skinny jeans and black sneaker wedges, which made her petite figure stand at about 5-foot-3-inches. So, yes, she’s as “little” as the truck’s name implies.
The name – and theme of the business – is meant to show clients they don’t have to be rich or spend a lot of money to look good, she said.
“You can be broke but still look like a million bucks,” Lugo said.
Lugo also was inspired by a fashion truck in New York. She originally wanted to open a brick-and-mortar store, but while at a fair in Chelsea, she saw a boutique truck, thought it was the “coolest thing” and knew she had to bring the idea to Pittsburgh.
She started planning in March of this year and opened in July. Broke Little Rich Girl frequents the same parking lot in the Strip as Ging on the weekends, and travels to festivals, the South Side and Shadyside.
Her merchandise comes from designers in New York, California and Pittsburgh. To keep the customers coming back, Lugo adds new merchandise every two weeks.
“The novelty of the truck wears off, so you have to have good stuff in it,” Lugo said.
Ging agreed, saying she focuses on customer service.
“I have a lot of regulars. They’re very supportive,” Ging said. “It’s a unique thing to develop a relationship with a customer.”
Having visited the truck twice within the past two months, Bauer said she noticed this too.
“Jackee [Ging] is very personable. She makes it a point to get you what you want, not just to make a sale,” Bauer said.
While these trucks and the other two – Vintage Valet and Roadie Vintage – are fairly new to Pittsburgh, they have been well-received.
The Style Truck was a part of Pittsburgh Fashion Week this year, and customers begged Ging to come Downtown.
Broke Little Rich Girl has a customer who comes every week just to see new products. Lugo said her dream is to have trucks everywhere.
Though the clothes differ in style, there is another common thread between these fashionistas: They love their trucks.
“It’s like my dream closet,” Lugo said showing off a handmade grey jacket with zipper details.
Ging is also proud of her creation: “The truck is my baby,” she said. “It has come so far.”