A day In the life of Antonio Blazevic
MTM & Customisation Worldwide Director
Tom Ford & Gucci
Time with the company:
6 + 5 years
What is your morning routine?
I wake up very early in order to take some time for myself while the city outside is still quiet. I like to have a slow breakfast with no external interruption until I’ve had my shower. I feel with this tranquillity first thing, it puts all my thoughts in the right place. Then I look at my daily agenda and start browsing the news around the world.
How did you get the job / how did you become involved with the industry?
I initially studied industrial design, but I realised quite soon that most of the jobs were not dynamic enough for me. This worried me a lot as I dreamed of this kind of job since I was a child.
Two years later, I graduated in fine arts and that was an immediate healing process while I was trying to figure out what I should I do with my future. A scholarship allowed me to complete my master’s degree in Business Fashion – this was my turning point!
Within four years of my master’s degree, I became a Buyer, Retail Area Manager, and Fashion / Business Consultant. This led me to Tom Ford, eventually to become their Made to Measure Worldwide Manager and then with Gucci as Worldwide Made to Measure and customisation Director.
What is your main responsibility?
For a decade I was in charge on a global level of business where I always managed cross-departments.
I was very fortunate to join Tom Ford a few months before the brand was launched. I worked incredibly hard to learn about the expectations of the forward strategy of the brand, company, designs, product development, merchandising, suppliers, luxury service delivery etc…. as quickly as possible. Self-motivation was what pushed me most. Working in a small company structure with direct access to Tom Ford himself at the time, supported my ambitions. Working across and influencing all departments was very effective.
After a year I became the Global Manager in charge of Made to Measure. That entailed working closely with product development while on the other side there was a need to build partner relationships in global retail and wholesale network for the company. I accomplished my mission for the business, as no other brand had achieved such revenue for MTM (in terms of % vs regular collection). It was for this reason I was approached by Gucci!
Being in love with the heritage of the Gucci Maison from the beginning, I can openly share this was the main reason for joining the company and the prospect of working on upgrading the collections of all product categories with a real high-end offer.
A year later there was a CEO change however, I was receptive to the company and market evolution (and stubborn enough) to introduce my global proposal to the new CEO’s board of directors.
I created a ‘customisation’ department that would offer customizable collections, manage particular product categories (like evening gowns, furs to leather and denim) and deliver outstanding service to VIP clients (including opening pop-up stores).
The idea was enthusiastically accepted, by the new Creative Director (Alessandro Michele). One of my biggest tasks was I had to deeply innovate the planning and operational processes in a large and already established company. I created not only the most comprehensive product offer that was on the market, I had to create a cohesive logistics and operations to support a highly trained, skilled and dedicated sales force of Area Managers and Senior Sales specialists worldwide.
I would like to say that I brought the customisation service to life years ahead of our competition, which is still requested today: I created a foundation of client-first culture. A strong link between merchandising, distribution and the one-to-one approach to clientele.
Currently I’m working in the shadows, as Senior Consultant advising, building strategy and support for smaller companies from merchandising to innovative digital tools. The unique experience of working side-by-side with all departments has allowed me to have a global vision.
In addition, my day-and-night “change for the better” attitude is what people appreciate as an extra contribution.
What is your typical day like?
There is no typical day!
Thinking of versatility as a value, I always try to dive into different environments. Working very closely with people from product development, communication or IT/digital departments gave me the opportunity to enrich myself. Although a lot of the daily/weekly tasks I usually manage, can be very distant from merchandising and retail that are my core.
Whenever it is possible, I am out of the office. In the city or in another continent. Being in touch with the world is the real fuel for creativity and constant personal development.
So, my only rule to follow is to satisfy my curiosity, whether it is within the fashion industry or learning from design, luxury automotive and hospitality industries. In this way I know I can continuously contribute.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is having the opportunity to build and create something new and with my cross-department vision I have been able to impact corporate culture!
I love to create a high-end collection or service. I constantly promote artisanship since these have heritage and human values. I’m deeply inspired by the creativity of these participants and like to connect people with different skills and backgrounds.
In addition, I pursue the excellence of memorable experiences for customers. It’s about the ability to appreciate extraordinary products and moments. It’s about emotions, its’ about life!
Having the opportunity to meet so many skilled people and tap into their diverse environments has allowed me to foster innovation whether with a new merchandising approach or a software used for operational and CRM flows.
Now i.e. – I am exploring 3D product development through working with small artisans and industrial processes as well. I’ve established direct contact with new creative directions and able to communicate their message to retail to strengthen a brand identity.
I also lead store events literally in every continent to immerse myself in different cultures. The diversity of my experiences is what matters to me and offers me constant opportunities for the future.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Sometimes the market moves faster than the processes and red tape in the big companies, this is a real training for patience and resilience! Small companies can adapt much faster, however, with them relying on many suppliers and consultants there’s a need to constantly improvise.
But the worst part for me was not being able to have a significant impact on sustainability. I would propose alternative ideas/materials and ask Directors to take a deeper look on the negative impact on the whole chain and my department but, within big companies, this was difficult to get them to agree to change and into action. I saw this as a defeat as it is in contrast with my personal values.
What’s your most memorable work moment?
In my career I have many memorable work moments. Here are a few!
I developed the global luxury MTM and customisation (across all product groups, service delivery, logistics, sourcing suppliers, product development….) concept from scratch that still makes a difference on the market. Additionally, the idea and the whole fulfilment at Gucci was also mine.
When I left Gucci, I was told “you’re the only one in the company who was constantly in contact directly with all departments, from the CEO to the client – including many celebrities”. So this accolade was truly amazing.
I created a unique department that was seamlessly delivering various projects and unpredicted results. Through taking full ownership of the task in hand, I proved in the long-term that I became accountable for product, merchandising and all areas of retail.
The fast-changing luxury fashion industry has given me the opportunity to satisfy my enriched skills satisfying my ‘kaizen’ attitude (constant improvement) as my blessing.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in the same profession?
My advice would be to pursue what you are good and passionate at. From time to time I work with fashion schools and the message of the industry is often misleading. It’s a tough industry that is moving very fast so it will have an impact on your personal life as well. Therefore, it is not about being ‘cool’, or about a chosen career. It should be about pursuing knowledge and long-term serenity.
Training an open mind with curiosity and resilience will make all the difference!