In an interview with Esquire, SVP of Designer and New Concepts at Nordstrom Sam Lobban discusses his career at the well-known fashion brand as well as his style do's and don'ts.
When asked about the start of his career, it's trajectory, as well as the meaning of the term "New Concepts," Lobban said, "Growing up as a kid in the UK, I was really into music and the subcultures that surround the different genres and, in turn, the clothes. So from my perspective I’ve been into fashion forever. Initially, it was brands that were popular around my way when I was young—Stone Island, Fred Perry, Paul Smith—but it was Raf Simons who was the first major designer I encountered who spoke to the connection between music, clothes, and youth culture that resonated with me. It totally blew me away as a late teen. I credit the brand as being the one that caused me to really shift my focus from casual premium fashion to designer and luxury (not that I could afford much of it at the time).
"I started working on the shop floor of a menswear boutique called David Copperfield in St. Albans, Hertfordshire (which is still there) when I was almost 16, selling Stone Island, C.P. Company, Paul Smith, Armani Jeans, and more. I took the job because it seemed like a fun thing to do and I could get a discount on clothes. I don’t remember getting paid very much. I think all my wages paid for the clothes I had in the "book," which was where the owner tracked who purchased what.
"When I was 18, I switched to working on the shop floor of Selfridges in London and in time moved into the buying office as an allocator. When I left Selfridges in 2011, I was the men’s designer and contemporary buyer. From there I joined Mr Porter, which had recently launched. At the beginning, we had less than 50 brands on the site; by time I left, it had grown to around 500. It was so fun pushing our offering in numerous different directions while always focusing on finding the very best product for our customers. In late 2017, I met Pete Nordstrom and we spoke for a few months about potential opportunities and how I might be able to add value at Nordstrom. These conversations culminated in joining the business as VP of men’s designer and New Concepts in 2018. In my new role, I worked to push forward our men’s designer assortment and launched New Concepts, a series of short-term pop-up shops that provide a platform to tell engaging stories through product. Each concept has three key elements: an exclusive collaboration or assortment of product, a custom-built physical and digital experience, and a bespoke communications strategy. Each shop and the direction we take it in is unique and rooted in the brand’s DNA and the products we’re working with. Since joining, my role has evolved and I now support all of our designer and luxury business across men's, women's, kid's apparel, shoes, and accessories."
When asked what a customer should look for when investing in a new piece, Lobban said, "In the most simplistic terms, know why you’re buying something. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a long-term investment piece or the hottest trend of the season straight off the runway, if you love it and know why you need it in your wardrobe, it’s worth it.
"For the most part I’m a uniform dresser and predominantly wear some version of the same thing every day, at least depending on what situation I’m in. I have my work wardrobe and then the more casual "park with the kids" wardrobe. I like to buy iconic, classic items that are well-made, and that I know I’ll be able to buy again. There are definitely some key pieces in my wardrobe that mean a lot to me that I couldn’t replace if something happened to them—at least not easily. Some of the most obvious are the Raf Simons items I wore for this shoot."
When it came to talking about the do's and dont's of style, Lobban said, "Personally, I do. I almost entirely wear black, with some dark gray and white. Broadly speaking, I keep to a minimal aesthetic rooted in tried-and-true menswear ideas. As I mentioned, I’m really into music and the connection between music and clothes, so more often than not my own style ideas stem from that—Paul Weller, Joy Division, David Bowie, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Small Faces, Manic Street Preachers. In terms of building a wardrobe, I’m a functional dresser for the most part. I have my stuff I wear for work, for the weekend, for wet weather, for hanging out with my kids, and within each of those, given that most of it is black, it all goes together to one degree or another."
Information originally sourced from Esquire.