Since starting as an Admin Assistant at River Island over 20 years ago, Stefan Pesticcio has worked his way up to one of the most coveted jobs in retail as the Head of Menswear at the online fashion giant ASOS. Ahead of the ASOS SS13 Menswear collection rolling out to Australia before anywhere else in the world, we chat to Stefan about making it in the fashion industry, the new collection, and how the internet has changed street fashion.
Hi Stefan, so what do you do?
I am the menswear fashion director at ASOS.
ASOS’ new SS13 Men’s Collection is rolling out to Australia before anywhere else. Would you say you specifically tailored the range with this in mind?
Having gathered customer intel from Australia based on sales and the market’s consistent early adoption of trends, we designed this collection with the Australian male in mind. We are already selling printed shirts, chinos, and five panel caps extremely well, so with this collection we wanted to push it that little bit further and developed this ‘90s inspired collection that is graphically quite full on. I am hoping the Australian male is going to be in to it.
What kind of guy did you have in mind when putting together this collection for ASOS?
A guy who takes references from skate and surf culture, particularly from the ‘90s and I guess someone with an irreverent sense of humour, as the collection has some tongue-in-cheek elements.
What are some of the key trends you think are prominent this season in men’s casual wear?
Five panel caps, bomber jackets, printed shirts, oversized parkas, brushed cotton shirting have all been prominent in terms of sales in Australia and what we are seeing on the street over here and around the world.
What are the limitations of designing garments for a broad appeal market?
As an e-tailor, we’re not limited to floor space so we have few limitations when considering our global customer and designing for broad appeal. We have over fifty colour-ways of chinos, and the same in fits or washes of denim, while selling swimwear and beachwear all year around. The fact that our breadth of offer is so vast ensures we have broad appeal and something for everyone.
Where do you start when putting together a collection for the ASOS brand?
There are ten full time menswear designers at ASOS. At the start of each season we go on inspiration trips, following which we come back to the design room and piece together mood boards and begin building the collections from there.
What motivated you to pursue a career in fashion?
I started in fashion a little by accident. It was definitely a passion and I spent most of my money on clothes and looking around cool shops. My first job was at River Island as a buyer’s admin assistant. I started at the bottom and worked my way up; there was no formal fashion degree or training.
Describe your average day…
My normal day is long and can be quite stressful, product sign offs, supplier appointments and HR and supplier issues. Although stressful, it is still one of the best jobs around!
You’ve been in the industry over 20 years. You’ve worked at River Island, TopMan, Debenhams. How do you think the internet and globalisation have affected how trends spread, come and go?
The change is immense. Our customers are extremely informed and opinionated, much more than they have ever been. Via the internet they’re equipped to inspire or be influenced no matter where they live, whether it be in London or rural New South Wales. We still see youth trends emerging from the streets, however the internet has definitely homogenised what a certain city may have once held as a territorial ‘look’; people in Sydney dress very similar to those in London and vice-versa, whereas twenty years ago, this was not the case.
ASOS launched an Australian stand-alone website last year. I also read that Australia is the biggest market for ASOS after Britain. Why do you think ASOS has been so successful in Australia?
We know that Australians love technology. They are very internet savvy and were very open to the concept of shopping online much earlier than their European counterparts; this is most likely an affect of relative isolation from a global market. I also know our clothes are very competitive with regard to the quality of fit, fabrication and price. This can’t be ignored and I think is the reason for our success in every market.
Do you profile your customers by country? If you do – what have you observed about the Australian online shopper? Any specific items or trends that have been really popular here?
ASOS is by far the most popular selling brand in Australia, followed by River Island and Polo Ralph Lauren.
ASOS Menswear Designer John Mooney jokes that men are creatures of habit and it’s not unusual to find the guy who ‘wants to replace that slogan T-Shirt that he has that has been washed to death and is falling apart and just wants to replace his existing product.’ What are your biggest selling items for men and why do think this is?
Our tailoring does really well in Australia. In addition to this, chinos (trousers and shorts), t-shirts, shirts and footwear all perform really well.
How do you think the male consumer behaves differently than the female consumer?
As you explain above, they shop with a habitual nature of repeat purchase and brands they know and trust. They like convenience and good service, two things I know we excel in.
ASOS has done some great collaborations – for example ASOS Black X Puma which you launched this year in Berlin. What do you look for in a successful collaboration?
The formula must make sense and for the Puma x ASOS Black collaboration it felt right for so many reasons. We stock Puma’s product, and there was a mutual respect for both businesses and the product. On a much smaller scale, we have collaborated in the past with fashion graduates. This is more about giving back to the industry at grass roots and hopefully giving someone with talent a stepping stone to take their business to the next level through increased awareness on a global scale, and cash flow.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in fashion?
Depends on what area you want to get in to. Being well rounded; so although a genuine and deep knowledge of the industry is essential, an interest in art, music and language or literature will get you a long way.
The best part of my job is… travel
The worst part of my job is… travel
Tomorrow I’ll be working on… I’m in LA doing research and we are going to a few bookstores.
My proudest achievement to date is… helping grow ASOS menswear into where it is today.
When I was five I wanted to be… can’t remember!
Shop the new ASOS menswear collection here.