Meet Topshop Australia buying manager Toni Baston.
What is your previous buying experience?
I have worked in both branded and product development areas for the last 12 years.
I started my career in Ireland working for the Brown Thomas group working on the denim and accessories departments.
I then moved to Australia and joined The Iconic as head of women’s apparel, working there for six years before joining the Australian Topshop Topman team.
What is your day to day role?
No two days are ever the same as this job is so fast-paced; I wouldn’t say that I have a daily schedule at all except for Mondays. This is when I check the trading and the last week’s sales. This then dictates what we will be doing for the rest of the week.
Key focuses for me are working closely with the UK design and buying team to develop the best range for the Australian market.
We’re constantly reviewing trend performance in market and feeding this back to the UK teams.
We also constantly review the Australian fashion market and ensuring we are offering our customers the most up the minute and first to market trends.
What is the most rewarding aspect?
I love the balance this role offers.
You get to focus on the creative and the business side equally.
You have to have a strong sense of numbers, a good eye but most of all you have to be confident.
This industry has a lot of opinions from a lot of different people – you have to be able to trust your gut instinct and not to be afraid to go for it if you believe in it.
I also love the pace of the work! This industry is so fast; you never feel like you do the same thing twice; you never have time to be bored or complacent as there is always something new right around the corner.
That kind of pace gives me a lot of energy – I’m addicted to it!
I love being able to travel so much – it’s great to be able to see new street styles and trends across different markets; It’s really exciting and I always feel really inspired after a work trip.
You meet and work with lots of amazing people also, especially working for an international brand like Topshop and Topman – building relationships is such a huge part of the job – I’m really lucky to have had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people.
What is the most challenging aspect?
The most challenging aspects are probably the same things that are the most rewarding.
Identifying the key trends that are going to be successful can be challenging.
You don’t always get it right 100% of the time, which can be disappointing, but it’s important to take risks if you believe in them.
The pace of the work; means long long hours in the office – there is always so much to do – you are never finished.
What is your proudest initiative?
I am most proud of a combination of things. I love to be creative so being a part of the Christmas campaign we recently shot featuring local bloggers was amazing. I am also so proud to have been a part of the new Topshop eCommerce site launch. That was a major task when it came to product decisions, but I’m confident we got it right.
What's the biggest challenge in the industry?
I think the influence technology has had on the fashion industry has been quite amazing! (visual search, customization, digital stylists) Watching the market transition to becoming digital centric has been really exciting. The speed to market these technologies have allowed the industry to offer has been incredible.
What's the biggest challenge ahead?
I think the importance of trends will continue to reduce, as personal / individual style will take its place.
Mobile and digital channels now available to the customer and will support and empower the customers to share their style and what they love rather than the fashion brands telling them what to wear.
I think we will start to see much more of a focus on customer experience and retail theatre in the market. We need to create environments in stores that our customers want to spend time in – its not just about selling clothes anymore – it’s about creating a lifestyle.
The environmental impact is also a big one! We will see more and more focus on the sustainability and the environmental impact of production of fast fashion.