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My fashion life: Justin O’Shea

Etailer’s buying director stumbled out of the Australian bush and into the world of fashion.

How is (which is based in Germany) separating itself from the competition?

We want to keep a focus on the product. The selection we make each season from the world’s leading designers separates us from other online retailers. We don’t want to buy everything or carry designers just to build our offer, but to provide an edit of the best of the best.

Paula Reed, formerly Harvey Nichols fashion director and before that Grazia style director, has just been appointed creative director of What will she bring?

A new level of sophistication to the look and feel of the site. Her experience in the fashion industry is unquestionable. Not only in her taste, but her journalistic point of view is very insightful.

How important is editorial content to a luxury etail site like

The content acts like the windows of a physical store. It gives an immediate impression about the identity and environment which the customer will be shopping in. It is also an invaluable tool for educating and informing customers about the product we offer. It highlights our authority and the strength of the relationships we have with designers.

Who is the customer?

I don’t like to stereotype who our customer is as it blinkers the buying process. We have a global audience of more than 100 countries, so to think the women all share the same taste or needs is naive. I want to provide a unique offering which caters to women from all parts of the world. So many countries have different needs because of weather, religion or local traditions, but what they do share is a taste for quality and luxury. This is something that can be influenced by the strength of brand identities.

Did you always want to work in fashion?

No, not at all. I grew up in the Australian bush with my dad in the mines and my mum teaching Aboriginal kids. Needless to say I was quite removed from the fashion world until I stumbled into it.

What was your first job in the industry?

Working at a mate’s streetwear store selling trainers and jeans when I was 21. Then I moved to Amsterdam to manage a sportswear store. After that I decided to move to London and get involved in fashion. I worked in a showroom finding new brands to bring to the UK. After this I floated around and did bits and pieces before taking a year off back in Australia to live with my dad and work in the mines driving trucks. Following that I was offered a position as buyer for a Kuwaiti fashion group and that led to me moving to Munich in the role I have now with



Where have you visited so far this buying season and what has been your best trip?

Since the New Year I’ve been to Stockholm for Acne’s pre-fall show, which was amazing. Now I’m halfway through a two-week stint in Paris. Givenchy was incredibly cool. Riccardo Tisci (the label’s creative director) is at his peak of modern glamour creativity. Christopher Kane and Erdem have exceptionally strong pre-fall collections. On the accessory front, Christian Louboutin was excessively chic and Chloé has great new bags which I was happy to see.

What key trends have you spotted so far?

Autumn 14 is looking like a very camel and navy season. There is a strong luxury casualness which is highlighted by raw denim and sneakers combined with furs and satin. The insider must-have will be a pink coat.

Which fashion week do you prefer?

London. It’s like being part of a secret club. There aren’t so many people and the shows are smaller but there is a feeling of excitement which makes it impossible to miss.

How do you cope with all the travelling required for your job?

I keep a pretty low profile during fashion weeks. I don’t go out much any more. I go to the gym every day at the hotel to stay healthy. It is very important for my mind to stay sharp.

What’s the best part of your job?

Everything. There are so many aspects to what I do every day which make me smile. The anticipation for fashion weeks, the analytics and strategy behind buying, the creative projects I work on with designers I am very passionate about and the constant communication with fascinating people in the industry are very rewarding and educative.

And the worst?

The early mornings.

If you could buy any whole collection, regardless of price, which would it be?

That’s a tough one. Prada for the product, Louis Vuitton for the ‘world’ and Chanel for the parties.

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