The UK sales manager at Pepe Jeans London tells Ian Wright why innovative denim is still crucial to the label’s future success.
My day at Pepe usually begins with…
A quick cappuccino, then over to the showroom in Notting Hill to check my sales reports. At the moment we’re in the thick of sales appointments which means back-to-back presentations, but in between selling seasons I’m usually on the road catching up with our stockists. You can’t underestimate the value of seeing your retail customers in their own environments.
You must get to travel quite a bit for your job – what’s your favourite place you’ve been to with work?
In my early days in the denim industry I lived and worked in Hong Kong. It’s such an energetic city that never sleeps. We’d work until midnight, party until the early hours, then be back in the office first thing. Looking back, I don’t know how we did it. These days I travel between Amsterdam, where Pepe Jeans London has its Northern European office, and Madrid, our Southern European HQ. Other than that, it’s trade shows. Berlin and Florence every season. I never tire of travelling, finding new fashion and seeing old friends.
What parts of the Pepe autumn 12 collection are you most excited about?
Since our men’s design director Thierry Pesce joined three seasons ago, the attention to detail and commitment to elegantly proportioned silhouettes has had a fantastic effect on sales. I’m having a strong reaction to our technical outerwear which is growing in popularity. But, being a denim brand, our most exciting statement is through our jeans and this season we’re launching Tru-Blu, a complete collection of jeans which dramatically reduces the volume of water used in the laundering of each style and which uses zero chemicals in the manufacturing process, ticking the environmentally-conscious box without compromising its design aesthetic.
How do you switch off after a hard day with the order book?
I compete in at least one full marathon each month. I also compete annually in the Comrades Marathon, a 90km event which follows a downhill route one year, and then flips to uphill the next year. The uphill course is more rewarding, which is a mantra that also makes sense in my working life.
What type of denim man are you? What’s your favourite style?
Of course there is a place in my wardrobe for raw selvedge purist denim, but I’m also fascinated by the level of innovation coming through in the crafts of dry and wet processing.
Where do you stand on chinos?
Chinos have been very kind to Pepe Jeans London from a sales perspective. In the 1980s we were famed for our chinos and I remember we once had a reversible chino with a dual-zip fly which we still hold the patent for. Today, chinos are still important but across each territory we’re noticing a real return to denim. l
- Mukesh Desai is UK sales manager for denim brand Pepe Jeans London
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Lots of people remark that I have a passing resemblance to Mahatma Gandhi, so perhaps it should be Sir Ben Kingsley.
What’s the most extravagant thing you’ve bought but never worn?
I once bought a leather jacket by Comme des Garçons from a New York boutique. When I got it home I realised it was made of PU, not leather. Needless to say, it has never left the wardrobe.
Blazer or duffle?
Duffles are for boys, blazers are for men.
Whose personal style do you admire?
It would have to be Steve McQueen, who managed to carry off a suit, or preppy looks, or vintage denims with the same level of finesse and swagger.
Sneakers or proper shoes?
Goodyear-welted every time (Loake, pictured).