Utah County retailers try catering to LDS values


During spring and summer, the sun shines constantly and class loads are lighter. As the temperature rises, hemlines and sleeves tend to rise as well — except in Happy Valley.

Here, modesty, inspired by religious beliefs and BYU’s Honor Code, helps keep stores stocked with sleeved dresses and tops as well as longer shorts and skirts.

Professor of marketing Mike Bond, who specializes in brand management, said Utah Valley is a unique market for retailers and fashion stores, who need to target the LDS population to be sucessful. He said retailers need to realize some fashion trends may not conform to standards residents hold here and should adjust accordingly to fit consumer needs.

“You’re always going to have an opportunity to customize your offering to this demographic and unique segment of the population,” Bond said. “You’re in a place where fashion’s important and budgets are tight and how can you capitalize on that?”

Bonds said he can walk around a local mall and realize what trends and styles will succeed with this particular population. He said some companies will succeed nationally with their fashion trends, but not necessarily locally because of values in this region.

Since fashion, modesty and price are all issues in the community, many stores must cater to those needs in order to be successful. Local and national clothing stores alter to fit to this demographic. Soel Boutique, located in the Riverwoods Shopping Center in Provo, sells fashionable items with their target customer in mind.

Rachael Kowallis, a supervisor and assistant buyer for the boutique explained in an email how the store offers many options for customers to find what suits them best. She said how in Utah Valley there is a prominent need for more conservative and modest clothing. When she helps to buy items for the store, she always incorporates the current trends like color blocking, neon and animal prints. She said the store always keeps in mind the demand for modest clothing and she is constantly looking for styles that work.

“All in all, I think that if you love some item or a certain style you can wear it if you are willing to be creative and maybe even sew a little here and there,” Kowallis said. “The greatest thing about fashion and clothing is that it is we each get to choose how we wear anything in our closet. It’s so fun.”

Modest fashion trends can be seen all over Utah Valley, especially on BYU’s campus, but that doesn’t get in the way of BYU students’ fashion creativity. Lauren Angarola, a senior from Las Vegas studying history teaching, said she is able to express her personal style while abiding by the Honor Code and said she notices how stores cater to her and others like her.

Angarola said when she worked at Nordstrom in Orem, they made sure mannequins were dressed modestly and sweaters and undershirts were always available for customers. As for her own personal style, Angarola notices how stores tend to carry more modest clothing than in Las Vegas.

“It’s a lot easier to find more modest clothing here than at home,” Angarola said. “It’s what most of the population wants, so its easier to find stuff to wear on campus.”

Zac Woffinden, a junior from Richland, Wash., studying graphic design, said he has also noticed how stores stock more modest clothes. Woffinden, who has worked at Forever 21, said stores incorporate modesty and trendiness to meet their customers needs.

While working at Forever 21, he said they would dress mannequins in longer skirts and T-shirts to attract the tastes of this unique audience. He said knowing the customer and what they want is important.

“Provo and BYU are a lot more trendy and fashion forward than you would think,” Wossinden said.

DownEast Outfitters is another store that caters to the Utah Valley demographic with fashion, modesty and price. Chelsi Crossley, regional manager and new store operator, said they provide pieces that are more modest than what other stores are selling. DownEast strives to present their customers with higher fashion at a reasonable cost.

The national clothing chain has five Utah Valley locations, which indicates how customers respond to their products. Crossley said they created their own line of DownEast Basics with T-shirts, skirts and shirtskeeping the Utah and Idaho populations in mind. She said they cater to the fashion-forward woman who wants to be comfortable in whatever she’s doing whether its going to class, work or shuttling kids around all day.

“We provide items that can be included in every person’s wardrobe,” Crossley said. “We hope to carry something for everyone.”

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