London Fashion Week is officially in motion, which makes today the perfect time to get dressed with Texas-born Holli Rogers — a founding member of Net-A-Porter who has been CEO of U.K.-based competitor BrownsFashion.com since last July.
Has the transition from fashion director of Net-A-Porter to CEO of Browns been challenging? Comforting? Fairly seamless?
The best word to describe it is rewarding. I’ve been at Browns now for just over a year and we have seen triple-digit growth since last year, which I’m really proud of. Browns has an incredible heritage and DNA, so we’ve focused on getting everything back to its best.
Key priorities have been ensuring our edit continues to be second to none. Over the last year, we’ve introduced 68 new brands and we continue to discover and champion new talent. Great examples of the latter this season are Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Y Project, which we see as the next Vetements, and Jennifer Chamandi, a talented new London-based shoe designer.
We’ve also rounded out our price points, introducing new contemporary brands like Saks Potts, Sandy Liang and Ganni. Additionally, at the end of October, we’re re-launching Brownsfashion.com, re-furbishing the stores and introducing new branding and packaging.
If you were explaining Browns in a sentence, what would you say?
The coolest boutique in the world! We offer the ultimate fashion edit from a team with expert knowledge, who believe everyone who experiences Browns, online or in store, should have a totally bespoke, effortless and fun experience.
What’s the hardest part of running Browns?
Managing my time! There is so much opportunity and there are so many exciting plans in place, which means it is, of course, a lot of work! But I love my job and I can see what incredible potential we have at Browns. The offline piece is also new to me. Prior to joining Browns, my focus was purely e-commerce. Our stores are a crucial part of our heritage and our overall business, and the challenge to consider how best to seamlessly merge our brick-and-mortar stores with our online presence has been an interesting one.
The most rewarding part?
Realizing so much has changed in one year; so much has been achieved. I’m also looking forward to the coming few months, particularly seeing our long-held plans and strategy start to come to fruition, like the relaunch of Brownsfashion.com and the new branding. This, accompanied by clear performance results such as triple-digit growth and really positive energy across all the team, is incredibly rewarding. We’re having lots of fun doing what we do and I believe that energy spreads to our customers too.
There are so few female CEOs in this landscape — can you recall any particular “glass ceiling” moments?
Luckily I’ve chosen to work in an industry that is made up of a significant number of women. For most of my career, I have had female bosses. These women were a great inspiration without even realizing it. That, for me, is an important part of what I look to achieve in my new role — to help talented people, both male and female, realize that it’s possible to be a CEO. Hard work, intelligence, a honed skill-set and point of view are all very important facets, but it’s also about how you inspire your team and work together to achieve the company’s vision and goals. And ideally you have fun along the way.
Where’s your favorite neighborhood in London?
Shoreditch has so many fun bars and restaurants. It’s a great neighborhood to explore. There’s always something interesting to see, whether it’s street art or street style.
What about your favorite off-the-beaten path activity?
The South London Gallery has an amazing selection of contemporary art pieces and their café, No67, serves great food and drinks.
Fill in blank: I’m spending 24 hours in London, I should ______.
Go for a boat ride on the Thames and stop off at the Design Festival.
London Fashion Week is on. if you’re not in the fashion industry, but want to feel the energy of LFW, where should you:
Eat: You really are spoiled for choice in London but some of my favorites are Casa Cruz, Frenchie and Morito.
Shop: Browns, of course!
Have a drink: Chiltern Firehouse and The Ace Hotel, which is a great post-show cocktail hot spot.
Three things you’re excited to wear right now: