LEON meets MATCHESFASHION.COM, Menswear Buying Director Damien Paul Interview.

'The new winning source of online global luxury shopping is all about the contents.'

2016 APRIL LEON_DAMIEN PAUL .jpg

Browsing away for hours finding the cheapest price on global shopping sites also known as ‘direct internet shopping’ is no longer the case for customers frequently visiting luxury shopping destinations online. The sites have evolved with a more diverse brand mix and interesting contents attracting customers to spend more time on the site, which usually leads to purchase. Korean language introduction welcomes the audience at a click and easy payment procedure is at hand to make the experience convenient than ever. MATCHESFASHION.COM is a site that serves beyond the purpose of shopping with its growing media contents and products from over 400 brands. The contents are strategically collaborated with experts from various fields delivering stories and visuals pleasing to the eyes and the site also operates 4 bricks and mortar stores in the UK. The global site also offers ‘My Stylist’, a platform for personal shopping both online and off line. We meet Damien Paul, the menswear buying director at MATCHESFASHION.COM, to hear the story behind the evolution.

LEON(L): I’m curious about your look today?
Damien Paul(D): Lanvin, Cerruti, Christophe Lemaire, Burberry and vintage Rolex, Valextra clutch bag and Lanvin backpack… Maybe I spent too much money on today’s look, haha.

L: As the menswear buying director at MATCHESFASHION.COM, what are the standards of buying?
D: There has to be something special that will appeal to luxury customers at MATCHESFASHION.COM. Whether it’s from a contemporary direction or straight from the catwalk, it has to have a sense of luxury. Equally quality and craftsmanship is important, too.

L: How would you define your target menswear customer’s age, occupation and taste?
D: We carry a very broad spectrum of brand portfolio. Many of which will appeal to the young customers. Students, working professionals, fashion savvy young customers are interested in the latest news on celebrities, sports and music and understand catwalk and trend very well. And there are also the classic and luxury customers as well as the more mature successful businessmen and even rock n roll stars. They’re in their 50s but want to wear Saint Laurent. Age can’t define customers, I think. But surely it’s clear they love the fashion mix we provide.

L: MATCHESFASHION.COM is unique in the way that you create your own contents and act as a media platform at the same time as a shopping site. Are there any challenges in doing so?
D: The buying team’s job begins every season by carefully following the fashion shows to understand the season’s new trends. We discuss with the PR and editorial team from day one the seasonal trend and key points in depth. What we buy may not be exactly the same from what we’ve seen on the catwalk. What we believe to be important to our customers, we develop further and deal with great importance as well. After numerous discussions we finalise our buying and return to London where we have a follow up discussion on what we believe to be this season’s trend. We plan way in advance the contents of the magazine and website together and plan special features based around interesting and important items or brands we’d like to introduce.

L: Online shopping is a big boom amongst Korean men in their 20s to 30s.
D: Lifestyle is evolving and many spend their spare time online, and often their hobbies online as well. This is why we think it’s important to create interesting and attractive contents and publish these online. A man eats his lunch and finds himself left with 25 minutes will find his way into our site reading interesting contents. And this will lead to purchase.

L: What is your direction for the Korean market?
D: What we find interesting is that Korean consumers are very up to date on what’s happening on the catwalk and the fashion trend. They prefer fashionable items than classic items and we see that luxury sneakers and products from the catwalk are high in demand. Korea is the third largest market to us in the world with high potential growth so we have begun a Korean language website and look forward to engaging more with the market.

L: Men in their 40s who are high spenders are still sceptical about online shopping. What do we need to do to bring down the barrier?
D: Again contents is key. Stories related to their lifestyles, like luxury hotels, art scenes, and social events can be some good example. Images on the website and editorial and pretty much every detail has to be highly executed with a touch of luxury as well. The older customers can be slow in adopting to online platforms but there’s always the demand and need to read attractive contents. I think this is where change can happen slowly.

L: We often hear about readers taking <LEON> to the store asking for the same product featured in the magazine. What can we do together as a magazine and an online global shopping brand to enhance this experience?
D: What about adding product numbers on the page? If the customer support team at MATCHESFASHION.COM is aware of what products have been featured in <LEON>, we could encourage the customers to search the products with its unique product number. This can be a welcoming tool for customers who are not familiar with browsing online. We also provide a service where our stylists will select a wardrobe for businessman going on a business trip based on their travel destination and journey duration then deliver the selection to the hotel or wherever they are staying. It’s like a concierge service if you’d like. We could also use our ‘My Stylist’ team to tip off the readers at <LEON> with products to be launched, in advance. For example, if a customer chooses 5 brands of interests, we could send the images of the new products from these brands before the collection goes live on the site. Depending on the customer tier group we can also take this kind of information in consideration when buying. If we think a certain pair of sneakers or a bag is something that a specific customer would buy, we inform them in advance and create some sort of a waiting list. And for the more mature customers if there’s a very special and classical item we contact them through our ‘My Stylist’ network and offer them the chance to reserve or pre-order these products.

L: What are the brands or items you recommend for the new Spring season?
D: Definitely backpacks. Let’s think about a lifestyle of a men with a formal life. If he’s cycling to work and back home via the fitness centre on his bicycle, then he would need a backpack for this purpose. He would want a product from a premium brand that is classic, perhaps black and stylish. Backpack has become an important product category in the recent seasons. Sneakers are still very strong and for ready to wear, bohemian trend is going to be a strong one for 2016 Spring/Summer season. Saint Laurent and Gucci are brands to look out for. And seasonless basic luxury items, high quality fabric like cashmere and craftsmanship is always an important factor in luxury fashion.

L: What is the new menswear trend you’re excited about at MATCHESFASHION.COM?
D: Grace Wales Bonner. We really love her menswear but we find it a bit difficult to buy yet and what’s interesting is that our womenswear buying director Natalie has picked up the collection for womenswear. We like Orly from New York. We’ve been stocking the collection for a few seasons. The brand is a recipient of the US Vogue Fund and had a strong response during New York Fashion Week last season. LA based Longjourney is another interesting brand. They purchase vintage clothes from the 50s and create them into something completely new. They deconstruct vintage clothes and dye them in indigo colours then dry them in the sun and make them into a denim collection. Very romantic, no?

Editor/ Hyojin Jeon

This article has been featured on <LEON> Korea's April 2016 Issue.