MEN’S FORUM: The Whitaker Group’s James Whitner Relies on Instinct and Close Consumer Connections to Stay Ahead

For The Whitaker Group’s founder James Whitner, being the consumer is essential to knowing the consumer.
With an assortment of stores via his company’s four retail entities — Social Status, A.P.B., Prosper and A Ma Maniére — Whitner emphasized the importance of being submerged with the people you are trying to connect with. He asked, “Are you focused on the consumer? Do you know who the consumer is and why? Most people don’t. You’re casting a wide net in men’s wear…I’m the guy. I’m the guy who’s buying the stuff and wearing the stuff.”
Aside from anticipating what his shoppers want, Whitner spoke of how he tries to design spaces that they will emotionally respond to. “I’m always trying to re-create the places and spaces I’ve been in. I feel like I have a romantic affair with the consumer in the process. Can someone cue the music? [Romantic tunes follow.] When I walk into a store, this is how I feel. I’m being romanced by the romance,” he said.
Referring to outdated business practices that can’t keep up with quick fire social media and fashion’s rapid speed of change, Whitner said, “You’ve got to set your businesses up to move like we move.

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