Connor Tieman interviews Tom Simpson, head of menswear at the Australian online fashion retailer, the Iconic (officially styled in all caps), on his work and what trends he expects for spring–summer 2017–18
What is your role at the Iconic?
Head of menswear, which covers men’s apparel, footwear and accessories. Lead a team of 22 buyers and planners.
How did you come to your role?
I studied fashion design at university (after a failed year of an accountancy course!). From this I joined Topshop and Topman, learnt my trade there. I moved to Australia in July 2016 with my wife and daughter to join the Iconic. I joined as the head of accessories and after a successful stint there, took over as head of menswear in April 2017.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day involves waking at 5.30 a.m. and heading down for a surf at sunrise. I am then home by 6.30 a.m. where I have breakfast and get my daughter ready for the day.
I arrive at the Iconic HQ at 8.30 a.m. and my day usually consists of reviewing the daily or weekly sales by department and by brand. I then sit down with each of the teams and work on the key goals for the week. I usually have two to three meetings per day in the office, either with the CEO, or other department leads. I always make time in my day to connect with some of our 700 stocked brands, including meeting with new brands that could be a great addition to the Iconic.
I make sure I go to the gym during lunchtime, at least three times a week where possible. I find this helps clear my mind and helps me concentrate.
I leave the office at 5.30 p.m. each day to make sure I am home to bathe my daughter and put her to bed, which is hands-down my favourite part of the day.
What is your favourite, and the most challenging part of your job?
My favourite part of the job is working with so many amazing Australian and international brands. I get to meet so many talented and wonderful people with a real passion for what they do. I love taking a chance on a new brand and monitoring how our customers react to it on the site; watching a new brand grow and seeing our customers loving it is the best part of the job.
How would you describe your personal style? Has this influenced your approach to your role?
I am fortunate to be exposed to so much inspiration in my job. I am constantly on social media looking for what is new and different so I can try and bring that to the Iconic, our customers and my own style. I was also always the first to wear something a bit different at school, or throughout my youth. Often I would get teased for it but would get a small sense of joy when I would see them wearing the same trend six months later!
My current style varies with my mood, one day I can be head-to-toe in an Italian-inspired suit and the next, ripped denim jeans and Doc Marten boots.
What’s your secret weapon when it comes to style?
You just need to get to know your body and what you can and can’t pull off. There are so many things I wish I could wear but just can’t—but I am always happy to try! Currently you will rarely see me without a necktie on. It changes the mood of an outfit in an instant.
Who is the typical the Iconic male customer?
The Iconic has many faces and we don’t just cater to one man, I want every man to be able to come the Iconic, feel inspired and always find something he wants, whether that be a Hugo Boss suit or a Staple superior T. However, in saying that, with our new premium selection we are seeing a different type of guy interacting with us, which is also very exciting.
How does the Iconic approach selling menswear online, in contrast to womenswear?
The Iconic approaches everyone as an individual. No one customer is the same or has the same shopping habits, so we aim to offer our customers a personalized service.
Our app is extremely savvy and recommends items to customers based on previous purchases. Our size guide will take your measurements and tell you what size to buy depending on the style and sizing of the garment, to ensure you always get the right fit.
We also tend to see that men search by brand rather than by style, indicating they know what they want and what they are looking for before they even come online. So, [at] the Iconic, we’ve made that easy for them by creating brand-first search options.
How does the Iconic respond to changes in trends and buying patterns?
The Iconic is a data-driven company. We care about our customers and what they are buying, therefore we monitor sales and purchasing data very closely to spot trends early and inform our buying patterns.
How do you decide what brands and products will feature on the Iconic?
I have hundreds of new brands to explore on a weekly basis. My role as the head of menswear for the Iconic is to think, ‘Would our New Zealand and Australian customer love this?’ If it’s yes, then it makes the cut. There is no right or wrong brand for our platform; we are a customer-driven platform who uses our customers’ purchasing patterns and insights to drive our selection.
How has online shopping evolved since the Iconic was first launched?
The ecommerce landscape has changed massively in the six years the Iconic has been around and we’ve been setting industry standards since we first launched. Super-fast delivery was a real differentiator and additional customer benefits such as free returns and online customer service chatbots have really improved the online shopping experience. It makes looking forward to what the next six years will bring, even more exciting!
Has the New Zealand man embraced online shopping? What are the biggest challenges?
Auckland is the second biggest city the Iconic ships to. The New Zealand customer has definitely welcomed the Iconic with open arms and we’ve seen great interest in local and international brands. We do however have the same challenges with the New Zealand man, in that there’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation—trying new brands, new cuts, new styles. The Iconic has so much variety we can help any Kiwi guy find his true personal style and have a great online shopping experience while doing it!
What’s your best tip for online shopping?
I like to explore a website–app in detail to understand the functionality. I am on the Iconic app the whole time on my morning commute, learning about new trends, brands we have launched and what’s new on the site. Technology these days can really enhance an online shopping experience so if you’re not comfortable with shopping online, jump on and give it a try, you’ll be surprised how easy it is!
What trends do you see coming up for men for spring–summer 2017–18?
We have seen the revival of the ’90s in the past months and the ’80s are coming next! I am loving ’80s Armani-inspired suits, deconstructed-shaped. Seersucker suits are coming on to the Iconic in a pretty big way this spring–summer.
Sport-luxe will still be around, inspired by recent collections from Gucci.
Oversized shirts and coats look great paired back with high-waisted, pleated trousers for a smarter or office-inspired look.
Safari jackets are a great go-to piece for the season and great for trans-seasonal dressing when the weather is a little cooler.
Palette-wise we are looking at muted tones such as camel and paste grey, contrasted with pops of pastel colour including, cornflower and my favourite colour for the season: dirty pink! •