G-Star’s UK sales manager tells Ana Santi how he left life on a building site to help cement the denim brand’s success
Did you always want to work in fashion?
At the age of 17, working in a clothes store was a lot more appealing than the job I had on a building site. I used to walk past [designer independent] Sarah Coggles in York every Friday after work and at the third time of asking – and after a maths test – [founder] Victoria Bage gave me a job. Within one week I realised this was the business I wanted to be in. I liked the way everything was fast and seasonal, and realised I wasn’t so bad at selling.
How did you come to work for G-Star?
A friend who bought from G-Star advised me to apply for a job there. I’d heard about the brand through friends that lived in Holland and had also seen the brand emerge in Jones [a now-defunct London young fashion indie] in Covent Garden more than 10 years ago. After three interviews and endless chats I joined the team.
What are the best and worst bits of your job?
The best bits are still working with the 95% of customers we have had since day one, and the fact that we have evolved together as partners. Seven years ago [when I joined], I used to get such a buzz when I spotted someone wearing our denims, and now I think it’s also amazing to see the fanatics who are head to toe in the brand. I still love being in store and training staff and it’s great to see staff take ownership of the brand. The worst bit has to be airport delays – especially on Fridays – from all the travelling we do.
How is the recession impacting on the business?
The only impact the recession has had is that everything is now a considered purchase, but that’s a good thing as the product, marketing and delivery has to be second to none. When a business is under pressure it either performs or it doesn’t, and lessons learnt and inventiveness will strengthen everyone’s business in the future.
How can G-Star maintain its momentum?
Through continuous product development, innovation and global marketing. I also believe we have a huge opportunity to market our brand to our end consumer –the public.
Is the streetwear sector proving more resilient than other areas of fashion? Streetwear brands with a clear identity and those that offer a complete package remain resilient. Denim will always be a basic item in everyone’s wardrobe, regardless of a recession.
What can we expect to see from G-Star in the coming seasons?
Even more denim innovations in silhouette, washes and finishes; a huge focus and drive on our women’s business; a collaboration with [Australian designer] Marc Newson; and the constant development of our formalwear business. On the logistics side, the evolution of our monthly delivery system.
Do you ever wear non-G-Star jeans?
Occasionally, but I like wearing raw denim jeans and breaking them in. This means I only have a few pairs of jeans on the go at any one time and as G-Star makes fantastic raw denim, it does tend to be ours.
Who is your style icon? Pierre Morisset, G-Star’s creative director. He is fantastic for his age through what he wears and for his attitude to life.
Who is your favourite designer?
Japanese designer Junya Watanabe.
What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
My pair of Trickers [from the hand-made footwear brand].
- Tom Duncan is UK sales manager of denim brand G-Star