You’ve seen them flood your Instagram timeline, captured on the streets of New York, London, Milan and Paris, always effortlessly, immaculately dressed. Usually, these guys – these birds of paradise – are setting trends before they happen, rocking some unheard-of design talent that’s yet to hit the big time. And when they do, you feel 10 steps behind.
Enter Josh Peskowitz, men’s fashion director at the luxury trunk show and e-commerce company Moda Operandi. Since his appointment in 2018, Peskowitz has been tasked with spotting trends and acquiring emerging designers, as well as securing more traditional heritage brands.
Founded in 2010, Moda Operandi brings with it a unique M.O., offering customers the opportunity to pre-order looks straight from the runway, immediately after a show or presentation, and from the full collection, too (not all the creations a designer shows become available for purchase in traditional retail stores).
The race to dominate the online shopping space has long been underway, with more room for expansion amidst the exponentially growing menswear market. Yet, according to The State of Fashion 2019 report on the global fashion industry, the packed sector can also signpost trouble. “Despite the profitability of major luxury e-commerce players, there’s the potential risk for stagnancy due to saturation and, of course, increased competition,” read the report published by The Business of Fashion.
So, how to overcome this hurdle?
“The next horizon in platform evolution is business model diversification through proprietary technology and knowledge to enrich the offering to consumers and brands.” Translation: This, precisely, is where Moda Operandi and Peskowitz come in.
You’ve been tasked with spotting and buying emerging designers, but how do you spot talent before everyone else?
I’ve worked in fashion since I was 16-years-old. Over time, you get to know people and build a network. Usually the best finds come from word of mouth recommendations. I look at what people are wearing in the street, both physically and online. There’s a lot of noise in the market, so identifying brands with potential can be hard. It’s something that takes practice.
Why does experience in creative direction and knowledge of editorial remain crucial in your job?
As a new part of the Moda Operandi business we have the opportunity to create a narrative and to establish a ‘house voice’. My editorial background and the skills I’ve honed in written word and visual language throughout my career are easily translated into the digital arena.
How does your knowledge and experience ensure that you get things right?
Making the right decision is an art. It takes practice and intuition, and it’s something you develop over time rather than learn. It’s also not always about personal taste. Someone might present you with all the right metrics, but you need to feel it.
How does Moda Operandi help you achieve your own goals and targets?
We’re a platform for creativity, which is exciting because our success is often measured on discovery of new brands, as well as the way we interpret existing brands. It’s a rewarding business to be a part of.
So, tell us, where are we with menswear right now?
It’s an exciting time. Men are increasingly conscious about what their clothes say about them as individuals. We’re entering a period of time where the intrinsic values in creativity and craftsmanship are increasingly important. As a result men care about quality, history, manufacturing, and brand narrative. Whilst it makes up a smaller percentage of the fashion eco-system, the menswear market is growing at a faster rate than womenswear. We’re seeing a lot of emerging talent – and we’re also seeing more women wearing menswear than ever before.
Studies tell us that Chinese consumers now represent something like 32 per cent of global luxury consumption – how do you cater to such a dominant market?
We’re an international, globally-minded company, so of course pay close attention to China. In general, men in the Asian market are risk-takers when it comes to fashion, which is genuinely exciting. We want to ensure we’re representing them from a brand and category perspective, and considering the right styling.
What about the menswear market in the Middle East?
It’s a discerning audience and the number of emerging brands and new media launches taking place mean that we’re definitely keeping an eye on the region. There’s a lot of room to reinterpret traditional Middle Eastern menswear and it’s a style we’re seeing infiltrate other markets.
Menswear seems polarised between streetwear and traditional brands right now. How do you bridge that gap?
The most stylish men take elements from different areas of the market – whether it be streetwear or heritage – and we encourage this individualistic approach. Our job is to incorporate all aspects of the market so it makes sense as a whole. Most men under the age of 65 remember when Michael Jordan came out with his first sneakers in 1986. It was a watershed moment. Streetwear has taken a while to leave its position as sub-cultural, but it is the culture now. Our goal is to take elements from luxury, tailoring and streetwear, and make it feel sophisticated and fresh for our customers.
What are your predictions for the menswear market?
Silhouettes will continue to feel comfortable and loose. We will continue to see a convergence between streetwear and tailoring. The designers at two of the biggest brands in the world – Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton and Kim Jones at Dior – showed a range of suits for their first spring collections. But these are not your dad’s suits; the approach now is to integrate tailoring into your everyday life using fabrics and streetwear cuts that feel comfortable and fresh. Quality will reign supreme. It’s a new kind of grown up.