Jenny Cossons, head of partnerships at curated fashion website Lyst, shares her take on fashion’s tech transformation and reveals her Oscars-ready style.
With 15 years’ experience working for some of the biggest names in fashion and tech, from Condé Nast to Net-a-Porter, Jenny Cossons, the London-based head of partnerships at Lyst, has experienced fashion’s tech revolution from the inside. She talks to Drapers about the changes she’s seen, the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and her love of getting dressed up.
How did you get into a career in fashion?
Like many things in life, it was not a plan, although I have always loved clothes – even if they weren’t always fashionable. I had originally intended to be a museum curator, but that pivoted to a role as a fund-raiser for Harvard University. From there, I took my first role in fashion working at Condé Nast Digital selling online ad space, and now I’ve been in the fashion industry for 15 years.
How would you explain your role?
As head of partnerships, my role is to acquire and maintain the best offering of product for Lyst’s global audience. It is my job to ensure that Lyst is offering our customers the world’s best assortment of fashion, so they can find whatever they are seeking. And in doing that I’m supporting our partners’ businesses. I love my job because it’s based on relationships, but also has a constantly changing technology landscape. I’m someone who loves fashion, people, and learning – it combines the best of all of these in one role.
Lyst screenshot 1
What are some of the challenges you face day to day?
There is not enough time to do everything. As a working mom of two who travels constantly and is managing a team of nine across two office locations in London and New York, time is the one thing I would love to have more of.
What is the best thing about your job?
I really adore the people at Lyst – from my boss to my team to the engineers. We are all different, but we’re united in a single mission to create the best experience for our customers. That’s a really exciting environment to work in.
Lyst studios, hoxton square (1)
How do you think the way brands work with retailers has changed?
The change has been transformative. There’s so much more transparency now. When I first started, the visibility that the internet created in fashion was in its infancy. The way brands and retailers worked with one another had been the same for several decades. Then Net-a-Porter proved that luxury fashion could succeed online. Amazon created a new standard for customer service and delivery. Apple gave us the iPhone, a lifestyle accessory and a tool that means that I can buy or research anything I want at any time. Instagram showed the power of brand imagery and social media. These are all huge shifts that fundamentally changed the relationships between brands and retailers and customers, and everyone is trying to figure out what to do next. But what an exciting time to be in fashion!
How would you describe your own style?
Girly and always Oscars-ready. I’m always in skirts or dresses – I only own one pair of jeans and two pairs of trousers. The rise of athleisure has been a struggle for me as I love to dress up.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
If you’re scared, it’s the right thing to do. Never allow your desire to stay safe stop you from moving and learning. You can’t grow if you stay in your comfort zone.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
The need for control and the fear of the unknown.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I start every day being grateful – for my family and for having a job that is challenging but where I learn something new every single day.
Favourite clothing brand
My top five are Altuzarra, Prada, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Self-Portrait and Marine Layer, but I also want a shout out for Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior.
Favourite places to shop
If I’m shopping in person. then Prada on Prince Street in New York and ABC Carpet & Home – a New York home store that is a treasure trove.
Last fashion purchase
A pair of Paul Smith sandals at Heathrow Airport
I took my 12-year-old son for a long weekend in New York just the two of us – it was such a treat to get to spend so much time together.
Last book you read
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.
Last film you watched
After loving La La Land, I rewatched Crazy Stupid Love to see Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling together again.
I was 11 and made copies of medical charts in a doctor’s office. After university I was as an assistant to the director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
In another life I would work in the film industry. I am trying to convince my kids to become directors, actors, or sound editors so that I can go to the Oscars!