INTERVIEW | Teneille Oakley, David Jones Womenswear Buying Manager
Off the back of another beautiful New Zealand Fashion Week, I had the privilege of interviewing the ever-chic Teneille Oakley, the David Jones Womenswear Buying Manager. Teneille was in town to host a fashion week dinner with a select group of New Zealand designers and media friends, and celebrate the impending arrival of David Jones to Newmarket (at the dinner I tried my luck with asking for an *exact date*, but instead of a direct answer she was just professional, sweet, elusive and honestly how dare she?).
Here’s our conversation, enjoy!
The Business of Fashion continue to report, year-on-year, that fashion buying is one of the most desirable jobs in the industry. What are the best parts of your job? What keeps you excited and motivated?
There are so many rewarding aspects of my job but there is something about the rush I get from discovering a new brand. Another great part of the role is the travel – always busy but exhilarating seeing a strong collection that you instantly know is going to work instore. The industry isn’t huge in Australia and New Zealand so there is also a lovely sense of community on the show circuit.
While analysing data and numerical skills are obviously hugely important as a fashion buyer, fashion is still an emotional experience, so I’m interested to know how much of your decision-making is based on instinct and personal taste? Do you ever have to force yourself to be objective?
I think successful buying requires a blend of instincts and data. Without that gut feeling about a brand or collection and the ability to visualise our customer wearing it, our insights don’t have any context. There have definitely been times I’ve had to rein in my own excitement to place objective orders but that’s part of the fun!
Following on from my previous question, do you have any examples of a designer or trend you took a risk on based on your gut feeling?
Buying into the highlight pieces of a collection is a good example of where the data tells you not to invest but the wow factor speaks louder than the numbers. These are the pieces that get picked up by PR and editorial, working well from an awareness and positioning point of view. Customers come in or go online to look for them and will often purchase the featured piece or buy into the brand for the first time at a more accessible price point.
You’re currently in town for New Zealand Fashion Week! Which Kiwi designers have you personally been wearing and loving this year? Which shows are you most excited about?
We are very lucky to work with some incredibly New Zealand designers; Deadly Ponies, Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester all carry a huge amount of weight in the Australian market. We’ve also recently welcomed Harris Tapper and Wynn Hamlyn on board which is really exciting, the standard of design talent coming out of NZ is exceptional. I wear a lot of Kate Sylvester and loved her show on Monday – so romantic.
David Jones is (finally!) opening its doors in Auckland later this year, which Australian womenswear designers are you most excited to introduce, or re-introduce, to the Kiwi customer?
You’ll have to wait and see! All I can say for now is that we have some amazing brands coming your way.