London independent Browns’ head of menswear on swapping a career in football for the fashion world
Dean Cook started his career as a professional footballer, before switching to the fashion industry in 1990, aged 20. Having gone on to head sales at the likes of Jil Sander and Versace, he made another transfer, to the buying side, as Browns’ menswear buying manager in July 2015.
You joined Browns in 2015 – what changes are you implementing?
Browns already has such an amazing audience. I really wanted to get Browns back to its best, a strong edit of great product from a range of lesser-known brands that perhaps you wouldn’t have come across before, mixed with the best from some of the biggest names in the world. We have introduced around 30 new brands.
You started your career in football. Why did you stop?
When I left school I moved to Cambridge to play football professionally which was a dream for me. I moved from club to club and ending up playing in Malta. I realised then that a football career wasn’t for me, so I moved back to the UK and started working in fashion, which had always been another passion of mine.
You started in sales, what did this teach you?
I’ve been very fortunate in my career, working for some of the biggest names in fashion, like Jil Sander and Versace to name a few. On the sales side, brands can be very hot one minute and not the next, so it’s all about driving the business when hot and strategising when you’re not. This is one of the many crucial lessons I’ve learnt so far.
Why did you make the move into buying?
This is my first role as a buyer. In the past I’ve operated on the other side in wholesale and so, joining Browns has been a really exciting venture for me. Having the opportunity to influence a store such as this is an incredible opportunity and was a move that I couldn’t pass up.
What’s your first memory of Browns?
I first came to Browns when I was a teenager. This was the store to come to. I originally came looking for Comme Des Garçons and that’s how I stumbled across Browns.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love going on buying trips. Going to buy fashion internationally and being able to influence the consumer is so rewarding.
And the worst?
There are certain restrictions that brands introduce when placing orders, which can sometimes be a challenge.
Which sales appointments do you most look forward to?
Gucci autumn 16 3
Saint Laurent and Gucci. These are the biggest brands of the season and we love going to the showrooms to see all the runway pieces. Haider Ackermann, as each collection is just so creative and Neighbourhood, as it’s a new street cult brand that I’m excited by.
What new brands are you keeping an eye on?
That would be telling! But some of the new brands we’re really excited for autumn 16 are Visvim, Comme Des Garçons Shirt and Facetasm.
What old brand do you wish would come back?
Romeo Gigli – it was the best of the 1990s.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Treat every business as if it’s your own.
Who do you admire most in the fashion industry?
[Former creative director of Saint Laurent] Hedi Slimane – he’s a leader in so many ways.
Tell us something not many people know about you?
I average seven hours of cycling each weekend. I love the freedom. I could cycle for hours without realising it.
Favourite clothing brands?
Visvim, Haider Ackermann and Gucci
Favourite places to shop?
Previously Haven Canada but now only Browns
Last fashion purchase?
Gucci shirt with a floral silk panel.
Biggest fashion splurge?
A few pieces from Visvim in Tokyo
Last book you read?
The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton