This week’s “How I Drive” highlights Car and Driver’s Contributing Editor Clifford Atiyeh. Clifford is into cars (would you have guessed it?), loves big dogs and has a passion for writing.
Lexus could be changing the cookie-cutter, corporate dress code at its dealerships around the country. The luxury carmaker has partnered with a high-end, classic fashion retailer–the brand has not yet been disclosed due to ongoing negotiations–to provide a line of stylish, sophisticated outfits for female sales associates to choose from as part of their work wardrobe.
As part of a performance drive event in Palm Springs, Lexus gave a group of women automotive writers a first look at its collection. We served as a bit of a focus group for the brand, whose representatives eagerly jotted down notes of our feedback.
Lexus hopes that it can keep the clothing line exclusive, at least initially, but the fashion retailer is encouraging the company to sell the line at its stores to more than employees, to consumers. Vice President of Customer Relations, Peggy Turner, says that for now, Lexus wants to stick to its core business of selling cars and that they aren’t quite ready to enter the clothing retail market.
The clothes themselves are lovely, with several options for women of varying shapes and sizes. We got our hands on the fall collection, which included both classic and trendier pieces. Classics included items such as a navy blue wool blazer with satin white trimmed collar while Lexus provided a lovely black peplum top for those a bit bolder with their clothing choices.
We consulted with the Lexus team on what’s important to women in the workplace, especially when working in a predominantly male environment (a ratio that Lexus hopes to change with its “Lexus Difference” initiative…more on that later).
Having worked at a car dealership myself, I’m sensitive to the materials used for clothing and the near impossible modesty of button-up collared shirts. Often times, it is difficult to wear something that looks good but also functions practically when getting in and our of a vehicle and moving about quite a bit throughout the day. Clothes, particularly during the summer months, must retain a neat appearance, camouflaging wrinkles and sweat marks.
Why “Lexus Wear”?
According to Turner, one major motivator for Lexus is to make working at a dealership as a woman more appealing. They hope to increase the number of female sales associates at their stores, and Turner believes that trading the corporate uniform for a more palatable clothing option could do the trick.
But beyond clothes, working women today are in search of flexibility and an environment where they feel both valued and comfortable. That’s why working at a car dealership—all stigmas attached—may be a last thought for women in search of a career in sales. Today, car dealerships are open as late as 11:00 p.m. and on weekends; that means long days are more than likely a reality.
“The real estate industry has tons of women in sales,” noted Turner, who hopes to bring similarly talented women to the car sales field. As a 25-year veteran of Toyota Motor Corporation and a woman who has weathered innumerable transformations within the auto industry, Turner may just be the lady to lead the charge.
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