Regularly attired in slim three-piece suits, with tattoos poking out from under his shirt sleeves, Justin O’Shea, the hirsute buying director for the online boutique Mytheresa.com, is one of the more recognizable characters on the fashion scene. His girlfriend of a year and a half, Veronika Heilbrunner, is the site’s willowy senior fashion editor. Together, the Berlin-based duo tends to turn heads—a fact that O’Shea, who grew up in the Australian bush and claims he went shirtless for the first 10 years of his life, plays down. “I think I dress boring, because the only things in my wardrobe are suits and shirts,” he says, citing Prada, Acne, and Doyle + Mueser among his preferred labels. Heilbrunner, who worked as a fashion editor for several German magazines before a besotted O’Shea lured her to the company (“Fortunately, she’s very good at her job,” he notes), assumes a similarly laid-back approach to her high-fashion ensembles. “It’s important that I’m comfortable,” she says. To that end, she often pairs elegant Valentino and Erdem dresses with Doc Martens or sneakers and Nike sport socks—a styling trick that has only earned her more attention. “It makes it easy to run around all day,” she says. “But I also like to break the rules a bit.”
We have been together since… Justin: December 2012. Hope my answer is not different than hers? I can tell I’m in trouble already, and it’s only question one! Veronika: That’s a tricky one: I’d spontaneously say a year and a few months… But we’ve been friends for a lot longer. Best date… Justin: Probably a weekend I took her to Spain. It was the first time she met my friends and really the first time we spent time together in a public place. I realized how truly amazing she was after this. Veronika: Every time we see each other after longer than four days apart is my next best date! Best gift… Justin:Cartier Trinity ring, which I had engraved. Veronika: My name written in ink on his chest just above the heart!
What we like to do together… Justin: With work I am always traveling, so we don’t get great freedom with our time together. We live in the honeymoon period — which I secretly like. Lots of weekends in different cities, which is nice as we both enjoy drinking champagne in expensive hotel bars! However, when I am home I love taking her out on the motorbike. It’s a very strong feeling of closeness, riding around the countryside with her on the back. But to be honest, just cooking her dinner and lazing on the couch listening to music or watching movies means more to me than anything else we do. It seems the most normal, but it’s a rare pleasure for me. Veronika: Spending time together in our home, watching series all day and night long, drinking champagne and Justin cooking for me… as it’s very rare for us to be home and alone.
What we don’t like to do together… Justin: I prefer shopping for myself by myself. Too many cooks, etc. But in general, I kind of like everything with her. As long as I can kiss her and see her face, I’m happy. I am pretty simple to please. She won’t agree with that at all! Veronika: Packing. It takes up too much time in life and works much better (and faster) under pressure. The first time I saw him/her, I thought… Justin: I want to take her home. Am I allowed to say that? She looked hot and I was hungover, so my mind was functioning quite specifically that morning. I hope her mum doesn’t read this! Veronika: “OMG” — I never had somebody looking so intensely at me. And I love that he still looks at me like that. Still gives me goosebumps.
Our existence is not worthy without your presence. Join the fun!
Let us officially introduce you to Mr. Justin O'Shea. You've likely seen him photographed countless times at all the major fashion shows in Milan, London, Paris and NYC. He's the Buying Director for the hugely successful, luxury fashion e-commerce website, MyTheresa.com. Based in Munich, the site was launched in 2006, and it offers clothing from top tier, high fashion brands like Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Valentino, just to name a few. We reached out to Justin to discuss the ongoing success of MyTheresa.com, recent trends in e-fashion, and also how he maintains his unique and very distinct personal style.
First of all, where are you based, and what are your main duties as the buying director for MyTheresa.com?
Mostly between hotels in Paris, Milan, NY and London. But technically home is Munich. My major roles are buying the merchandise and providing the fashion direction for the website. This also includes working on brand collaborations for press activities and generally just hanging out.
Does the mytheresa.com shopper have a specific style aesthetic, or is it a mix of various influences?
Modern fashion is evolving rapidly with the exponential growth of the digital stratosphere. Our customer base spans across 120 countries and is wanting everything yesterday. From the newest Nike’s to the most extravagant Saint Laurent crocodile bag, I love that we have such a broad spectrum of shoppers from every corner of the globe.
How do you navigate the trends from season to season, because as we all know, fashion can be very fickle?
I am focusing less on trends as the luxury market is moving away from seasonal ideology and really putting emphasis on what makes their brand unique. This is particularly interesting as it takes a more in depth approach to the buying as you need to identify what pieces are iconic or will be in the future and promote them with conviction.
What one factor would you attribute as the major reason for mytheresa.com's ongoing success?
We have a distinct approach to fashion which is highlighted by a very curated buying strategy. We strive to create a personal connection and desirable shopping atmosphere where our customers enjoy returning to.
What trends have you seen emerge recently in the area of fashion related e-commerce - and also, what behaviors do you see e-shoppers veering away from?
With fashion being so accessible now, the demand for the key pieces of the season is at a peak. From Saint Laurent army boots to Givenchy Bambi sweatshirts, the consumer awareness of what happens on the runway is growing fast. On the flipside, the buying process is even more intense as the "hit and miss" rate increases.
Let's talk about your personal style. What is your personal style philosophy - are there any hard rules you adhere to?
My style is pretty simple. It’s not something which sways with seasonal trends. I like a classic, clean and masculine image. The contrast of the tats and beard, which makes my look distinct, is the individual quality which I find important to keep.
What are some of your favorite established menswear brands and also, what are some of your favorite upcoming brands that people may not know about?
Louis Vuitton, Prada and Acne are the brands I wear the most. I find myself drawn towards them as their identity is something I want to be a part of. Clothes after all are a very personal thing. I have a new bespoke tailor in NY called Doyle+Mueser which I get suits and shirts made. They are impeccable. My one tip would be for every man to have a suit tailor made. When you have a special event or occasion it provides and unbeatable feeling of confidence.
In all the streetstyle shots you're captured in, your grooming and accessories (sunglasses etc) are always excellent - can you give us some insight to how you approach these two facets of your appearance? Do you ever go clean-shaven?
When I was younger, I always had a skinhead and was clean-shaved. That seems quite a long time ago. I actually grew my beard for my brother's wedding as I wanted to be like my uncles whom I remember as a child being very mature and regal. Since then I have kept the same style which makes the grooming part pretty easy. I have to admit that I am not really the American Psycho type with seaweed masks etc., but my barber in Mayfair keeps me from looking like a man from the wilderness. Ha ha. Sunglasses are something I can’t be without. I feel more comfortable wearing them. Also they hide my tired eyes. They always give me away.
Lastly, what's the story behind your tattoos - how early did you start getting them?
I got my first tattoos when I was 25 and living in London. It was something I had planned on when I was 16 but my mother cleverly tricked me out of it. Smart woman. The first ones meant something, but since then I draw inspiration from my job and personal experiences. I like that their meanings mean nothing. But they always bring a smile to my face and I never regret them. It is more like a random timeline of my life than a planned project. I have no idea where it will lead or when it will stop. I prefer my life to be like that.
Etailer Mytheresa.com’s buying director stumbled out of the Australian bush and into the world of fashion.
How is Mytheresa.com (which is based in Germany) separating itself from the competition?
We want to keep a focus on the product. The selection we make each season from the world’s leading designers separates us from other online retailers. We don’t want to buy everything or carry designers just to build our offer, but to provide an edit of the best of the best. Paula Reed, formerly Harvey Nichols fashion director and before that Grazia style director, has just been appointed creative director of Mytheresa.com. What will she bring?
A new level of sophistication to the look and feel of the site. Her experience in the fashion industry is unquestionable. Not only in her taste, but her journalistic point of view is very insightful. How important is editorial content to a luxury etail site like Mytheresa.com?
The content acts like the windows of a physical store. It gives an immediate impression about the identity and environment which the customer will be shopping in. It is also an invaluable tool for educating and informing customers about the product we offer. It highlights our authority and the strength of the relationships we have with designers. Who is the Mytheresa.com customer?
I don’t like to stereotype who our customer is as it blinkers the buying process. We have a global audience of more than 100 countries, so to think the women all share the same taste or needs is naive. I want to provide a unique offering which caters to women from all parts of the world. So many countries have different needs because of weather, religion or local traditions, but what they do share is a taste for quality and luxury. This is something that can be influenced by the strength of brand identities. Did you always want to work in fashion?
No, not at all. I grew up in the Australian bush with my dad in the mines and my mum teaching aboriginal kids. Needless to say I was quite removed from the fashion world until I stumbled into it. What was your first job in the industry?
Working at a mate’s streetwear store selling trainers and jeans when I was 21. Then I moved to Amsterdam to manage a sportswear store. After that I decided to move to London and get involved in fashion. I worked in a showroom finding new brands to bring to the UK. After this I floated around and did bits and pieces before taking a year off back in Australia to live with my dad and work in the mines driving trucks. Following that I was offered a position as buyer for a Kuwaiti fashion group and that led to me moving to Munich in the role I have now with Mytheresa.com.
Where have you visited so far this buying season and what has been your best trip?
Since the New Year I’ve been to Stockholm for Acne’s pre-fall show, which was amazing. Now I’m halfway through a two-week stint in Paris. Givenchy was incredibly cool. Riccardo Tisci (the label’s creative director) is at his peak of modern glamour creativity. Christopher Kane and Erdem have exceptionally strong pre-fall collections. On the accessory front, Christian Louboutin was excessively chic and Chloé has great new bags which I was happy to see. What key trends have you spotted so far?
Autumn 14 is looking like a very camel and navy season. There is a strong luxury casualness which is highlighted by raw denim and sneakers combined with furs and satin. The insider must-have will be a pink coat. Which fashion week do you prefer?
London. It’s like being part of a secret club. There aren’t so many people and the shows are smaller but there is a feeling of excitement which makes it impossible to miss. How do you cope with all the travelling required for your job?
I keep a pretty low profile during fashion weeks. I don’t go out much any more. I go to the gym every day at the hotel to stay healthy. It is very important for my mind to stay sharp. What’s the best part of your job?
Everything. There are so many aspects to what I do every day which make me smile. The anticipation for fashion weeks, the analytics and strategy behind buying, the creative projects I work on with designers I am very passionate about and the constant communication with fascinating people in the industry are very rewarding and educative. And the worst?
The early mornings. If you could buy any whole collection, regardless of price, which would it be?
That’s a tough one. Prada for the product, Louis Vuitton for the ‘world’ and Chanel for the parties.
Our existence is not worthy without your presence. Join the fun!