How has your buying strategy been affected by the global pandemic?
For our buying team, we continue to believe in trends and newness, but there is also a need for longevity and continuity moving onwards; we will focus more on styles that transcend seasons to come and on everlasting quality. Craftsmanship, quality, beauty and escapism will all be imperative, along with a more sustainable approach.
Our customers engage with compelling storytelling and value-driven initiatives like International Women’s Day, The Vanguard and NET SUSTAIN, as these relate to our customers’ core values. In some areas, it has only highlighted what we already knew was important – connection and authenticity with the customer. Ultimately, we will continue to localise and tailor our global buy to meet the needs of our NET-A-PORTER customer.
What are your views on the new digital and virtual aspects of buying when it comes to the “new normal”?
Our teams have been conducting virtual buying appointments since March. Again, technology and our ability to adopt new technology quickly has supported the buying process. In the future, we may see more digital buying; virtual showrooms and runway shows, AR or avatars with great display.
What’s your new daily routine and how does it differ from before?
We had already implemented smart working from the beginning of the year, and the crisis has accelerated our adaption of these new ways of working. The smart working will continue into the future – this will reduce commuting and its associated pollution and enable our colleagues to capture precious time in their personal lives.
We are working from home and I mainly catch up via Zoom meetings these days, keeping in close contact with my senior team and meeting with my wider team (all 80 of us!) on a weekly basis. It’s been a challenge and it’s also super easy to work all the time from home, so I have to remind myself to take a break every once in a while.
How did you land your role as Global Buying Director for NET-A-PORTER? What was the journey to get there?
I was born in New York and grew up in Tokyo, London and Hong Kong. I studied art history and my first role was Assistant Buyer for private label, Ronald van der Kemp at Barneys in 1997. Three years later, I was promoted to Associate Buyer for Co-Op, then to Sportswear Buyer.
In 2000, I joined Bergdorf Goodman at the start of its modernisation as the first-ever designer buyer. During my 14-year tenure at Bergdorf, I oversaw the development of an eveningwear area, and was instrumental in the planning and execution of a major renovation across many floors, including modern designer sportswear and fine jewellery and watches.
In June 2017, I moved to London to join NET-A-PORTER as Global Buying Director, where I am currently overseeing a team of around 50 buyers across all categories including RTW, shoes, bags, accessories, beauty and fine jewellery and watches.
What does your role as Global Buying Director for NET-A-PORTER entail?
My role involves managing a team of 50 buyers across all categories. My role is to set the global buying strategy, attend the fashion weeks and meet with designers to explore collaboration opportunities. Of course this has adapted recently and our appointments and meetings are conducted digitally. The ultimate goal is to curate a destination where customers can discover new upcoming designers and the most cherished luxury brands, in order to remain an unparalleled shopping experience.
How important is it to you to accessorise your outfit? Which one do you prefer: less is more or more is more?
In the current climate, I would say more is more. Luxury loungewear is very of the moment – a more relaxed attitude will continue in fashion for a while. To elevate a look, I would recommend investing in pieces that have luxurious fabrications and textures, and layer with tailored outwear to finish the look. Additionally, add flair and personality to your look by stacking unique jewellery pieces.
How do you describe your daily uniform?
Classic and modern but always with a personal twist. It needs to be effortless as I run around all day and want to feel comfortable and confident. Items with longevity are the key wardrobe classics, such as a khaki trench, a navy blazer or a slick black dress.
I always look for the updated, unique versions that will remain interesting in years to come. Giuliva Heritage is a great example of a brand offering true, timeless fashion. From their sleeveless belted trench to their burgundy and blue striped wool blazer, the label offers classic styles with a twist and has proven to perform particularly well for us at NET-A-PORTER.
If you could only be dressed by one designer, who would it be?
I love what Daniel Lee is doing at Bottega Veneta. It is very modern, luxe and clean. I am obsessed with it.
What are your top three upcoming designers to look out for and how do you spot future talent?
Two years after launching the NET-A-PORTER Vanguard program, we are excited to announce the latest three designers JiaJia, ARTCLUB and Minju Kim to join the initiative, each offering a uniqueness to the industry that is sure to resonate with the NET-A-PORTER customer.
JiaJia’s founder used to work as a fashion buyer that allowed her to better understand the world of gems and what the consumers like. Her jewellery collection is made from healing crystals and precious stones that are in natural clarity, shapes and terminations. All crystals are ethically and hand-selected from their mines. Each creation is modern and one-of-a-kind bringing a newness and uniqueness to the industry. They are sure to resonate amongst NET-A-PORTER customer. We can’t wait for JiaJia to return, this time with an exclusive collection under our Vanguard program.
Home to founder Heidi Middleton’s creative world, ARTCLUB is a progressive brand focusing on fashion, art, vintage and like-minded collaborations. Each piece is created from a desire to make things of beauty with purpose and meaning, that will endure the test of time. As well as recognising the importance of sustainability in fashion today, the brand creates a dialogue between themselves, the maker and the customer through the thoughtful touch of including the maker’s name within the garment. Heidi has the talent and reliability to ensure a long and healthy partnership alongside our guidance on how to propel a new business. We are excited to exclusively launch her AW20 collection under The Vanguard.
MINJUKIM’s pieces have a playful, yet contemporary, take on feminine style which speaks to our NET-A-PORTER woman. We were looking for someone with a unique brand DNA, and also someone who could translate their designs into something our customer would buy and wear. Minju has a modern approach to sexiness – her previous collection has resonated globally which has been super exciting to see how customers from all over the world have reacted to her piece.
CreditLead image: Courtesy of Net-A-Porter