I know I often say “it’s been a while since I last did such and such a post” but it really has been absolutely bloody ages since you last saw an interview on the blog. The onset of fashion month madness tends to make basically everything else a no go but now the SS14 shows are over you can expect a bit more variety on LPA… Yay! And kicking off this return to non catwalk related posts is an interview with John Camuto, son of footwear extraordinaire Vince Camuto and Manager of Product and Store Development for the entire, global Camuto Group. An impressive fellow indeed and, as I learned, rather charming too…
LPA: Given that your father, Vince Camuto, is something of a footwear legend one might assume a career in that field was inevitable. Growing up, were you always interested in the industry or was there a specific moment/event that made you realise you wanted to go down that route?
JC: I studied business and design in school and have always had an appreciation for fashion, art and architecture. Like my father, I enjoy understanding what customers are after, what they’re looking for, and figuring out how to give people what they want. We’re both product people and we like the challenge of continuing to deliver style, comfort and value across categories.
LPA: What does the role of Manager of Product and Store Development for a major international fashion company like the Camuto Group actually entail?
JC: I work closely on the development of new product, styles, silhouettes –working on everything from actual design, production, studying trend, the customer, new materials, interests, what styles are missing, what performing well, etc. I also work with the product development team to see about new categories and brand extensions including Two by Vince Camuto and Vince Camuto Men. I also work closely with the retail team on store development and have the opportunity to review the brand and retail presence on the ground, both domestically and internationally ensuring that all elements are on brand, and also appropriate by market. I love to travel, speak with store associates, participate in marketing events and more to enhance our current presence in various markets and also learn where else we may wish to extend the brand reach.
LPA: I’m guessing you didn’t start out in such a high powered role, talk me through your professional trajectory after graduating from the prestigious Fairfield University…
JC: Like my father, I started out in retail, at Nordstrom, and also at Vince Camuto retail stores. These positions allowed me to work with customers and helped me learn about the retail experience – how customers shop, what they look for, what influences a purchase decision. It truly has provided me a strong foundation as I embark on my career in this industry.
LPA: Have you ever been tempted to try your hand at design or has the business side of things always been your calling?
JC: Yes, absolutely. I love design and sit in the meetings with my father. I really enjoy all aspects of the business and I plan to continue exploring and understanding the business from every angle.
LPA: Besides working on the lifestyle product development for Vince Camuto, VC Signature and Two by Vince Camuto, you also assist on the retail development programme that has seen a huge expansion from 3 US locations to 35 global locations in just three years! What factors influence where the brand decides to open stores?
JC: I work with Greg Morel, President of International. There is a study of the market, where penetration seems like it may be most successful and discussion begins. Additionally, when we open a location, we employ marketing, advertising, PR, and social media, and look for strategic growth opportunities within each territory.
LPA: I was thrilled when Vince Camuto opened its first UK store on High Street Kensington this summer. What prompted this decision? Have you found the UK to be a strong market for the brand since partnering with Kurt Geiger in 2012?
JC: We were very excited too, and Kurt Geiger is a partnership we are very proud of. The UK is an excellent market for us – there is a strong appreciation for trend-driven product, particularly accessories. Our footwear and handbags make a statement as they are well-made and range between more trendy and classic/sophisticated. Vince Camuto offers collections with diverse silhouettes for a variety of occasions for women who appreciate fashion – and these women are most certainly in the UK!
LPA: What is your favourite aspect of your job?
JC: The interaction with the customers, media, and people I meet during my travels is one of my favorite parts of my job. Learning what each market likes and how they respond to the product helps us plan for additional growth.
LPA: What advice would you give to someone hoping for a career on the business side of fashion? Would you recommend studying a specific degree such as Fashion Management or do you feel its more useful to gain hands on experience through internships?
JC: Going to school and studying what you love is very important. Chances are whatever subject that is, you will apply it in your career – so hone those skills. Whether English, or business, psychology, design – these are all used in various departments. After the school year ends and during the summers it is important to gain hands-on experiences in the industry you are interested in pursuing a career. It gives you direct awareness of how the business works and prepares you for future opportunities.
Love Ella. X