Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to analyze patterns of client and professional interaction as reported by professionals in the apparel industry. Design/methodology/approach - This qualitative research involved 23 professionals or individuals who worked for more than ten years in an executive position. The participants, who worked in a variety of positions, in the US apparel industry were interviewed extensively about their professional experiences. Data were analyzed by identifying themes in the interview transcripts using a grounded approach methodology. Findings - The participants described their professional relationships with clients. Clients included individuals in the general public and other industry professionals who used the service or bought the product. The participants, all women, showed similarity or homophily with clients' values, fashion level, age, gender, economic level, and body size. All participants emphasized differences or heterophily with clients in expertise and level of innovation. Practical implications - This information is helpful for new professionals in the apparel industry and other business professionals to understand how to succeed and what to emphasize when relating to clients. Originality/value - This study demonstrates how a grounded approach to interview analysis can add to theory and provide useful information about succeeding in a business environment. Limited research exists about professionals' use of homophily and heterophily to relate to their clients. Homophily and heterophily dimensions (e.g. age, gender, and expertise) used by apparel industry professionals in relating with clients are identified. Also, strategies that these professionals used to create homophily and heterophily are discussed.
- Customer relations