Monday, 25 May 2015 10:49

Interview with The Outnet.com

Interview with Charlotte Southern, UK Buying Manager, The Outnet.com
 
Launched in 2009 by the people behind Net-A-Porter.com, The Outnet.com has quickly established itself as the chic, go-to destination for the global, style-conscious shopper looking for designer products at great prices. The Outnet boasts a selection of previous-season designer fashion from over 250 brands as well as exclusive collaborations with high-profile designer labels and its own private label, Iris & Ink.
 
As the brand’s most senior representative in Europe, Charlotte Southern, The Outnet’s UK Buying Manager, works closely with the US team to implement buying strategies, spot opportunities and think creatively to ensure The Outnet has the best possible product offering.
Leading a team of twelve, Charlotte ensures the alignment of objectives across the brand, through selection of labels and product mixes across all departments. Here, we speak to Charlotte about how she got started in the fashion industry, what she gets up to on a daily basis and advice she has for those hoping to do the same.
 
So Charlotte, have you always been interested in fashion?
 
Yes, and shopping in general. As a young child I embraced many dubious ‘80s fashion trends! I loved trips to Way In at Harrods. I remember going to Galeries Lafayette when I was about 10 years old and my mother buying me a jacket there – I was so proud of it!
 
Did you attend university? If so, what did you study and did you get much career support from them?
 
I went to London College of Fashion. I studied a degree in product development which wasn’t a natural fit for me – it was too practical – but it was a last-minute decision as I swapped from a banking degree and at the time London College of Fashion didn’t do a degree level fashion management course.
 
Did you undertake many relevant internships/placements? If so, how beneficial were they?
 
I did an internship in Harvey Nichols’ buying office and ended up staying fifteen years – so very beneficial!
 
What made you decide to go into buying rather than other areas of the industry?
 
I found out one of my mother’s friends was a shoe buyer for Freemans catalogue. I had never thought of it as a career before, as I had always wanted to go into finance. Once I discovered that people buy fashion for a living there was no turning back for me.
 
How did you end up at The Outnet?
 
After fifteen years at Harvey Nichols I wanted to gain experience elsewhere. The Outnet offered me both a pure play e-commerce experience, and it was a totally different way of buying -  but still within the luxury world. Off-price was – and still is – a rapidly growing market and I was interested in being part of it. I had also always admired the Net-A-Porter Group.
 
Can you describe a typical day in your working life?
 
The mornings often involve reviewing brand performance and working on brand strategy with the buyers and the merchandising team. The afternoons are our crossover time with the US office, so this is when I catch up with the VP of Global Buying and when we have our global buying and merchandising meetings.    
 
Are there a lot of perks to your job? What do you enjoy the most?
 
The opportunity to travel, seeing products before anyone else, going to some unusual places for buying appointments, attending the runway shows and the staff discount!
 
What is the most challenging part?
 
It’s very fast paced so you have to make quick decisions and then own them. At The Outnet the buying is constant so it’s always buying season and there’s less downtime to fit in other important parts of the role.
 
Which brands/ designers would you say are the ones to watch this year?
 
Erdem is looking amazing and going from strength to strength. Delpozo and Self Portrait are certainly ones to watch.   
 
What advice would you give someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
 
Try and get some internships or temping work – if you do a good job there are often opportunities to stay on and move up.
 
In your opinion, what has been the worst fashion trend of the decade?
 
The skyscraper heels we saw a few years ago were not my favourite.
 
 
To shop the latest designer looks at discount prices, including the new Wedding Boutique and summer lines, head over to The Outnet.com.

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