Remote working in the luxury fashion industry

Luke Anton is one of those multi-hyphen creatives who works through three time zones in just one day. We spoke with Luke to learn more about how he juggles these remote teams and how remote working has helped his business in the luxury fashion industry.

For Luke Anton, working remotely came out of necessity. “I can’t be everywhere at once nor can I be awake 24/7,” he says.  With clients all over the globe and offices for his company in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Melbourne, it goes without saying that his schedule can get packed - quickly. “Work starts very early for me, usually at 6am to catch the U.S. then in the afternoon I’ll touch base with teams in Asia and the Middle East for a few hours and after dinner I’ll start receiving texts and emails from my partners and colleagues in Europe.”

As an Executive Brand Strategy consultant for LVMH, he works closely with fashion houses in APAC and the Middle East. In addition to consulting, he’s also the VP of Brand Creative and Global Marketing for 2-TIMES, an invite-only luxury online fashion retailer and event-based private shopping service, which he co-founded in 2011 with his twin brother, Alex.

Collaboration comes instinctively for Anton and his teams. “By its nature, creative studio production requires collaboration and teamwork. Photographers, art directors, models, stylists, and hair and makeup teams all come together for days or sometimes weeks at a time, to hit a set brief.” He explains. But, remote work comes with its own set of unique obstacles in the luxury fashion industry. “Creating content and visuals for multiple segments of brands and clients - at 2-TIMES and also with LVMH - without physically being together is quite challenging, and organically leads to a new style of autonomous material development. While there’s a constant dialogue via video, email and text, it’s definitely more time consuming for everyone to be in agreement with a final edit, than it is to produce similar content in person.”

Anton doesn’t force collaboration “I rationally pair personalities who may get on, however I never place any pressure on individuals having to bond with each other,” he explains. “Freedom is a refreshing take on bonding - I’ve always believed that it’s most effective to allow individuals to do their thing. Besides, it’s sensible to assume that when you’re joining a new team, you’re (idealistically) like-minded.”

With a team of over 100 people spanning across three countries, 2-TIMES has grown exponentially from what it was when the Anton brothers started it in 2011. Keeping the bond between employees thriving isn’t easy, but Anton puts in extra effort with his staff to ensure they feel connected. “I make it my priority to be available and/or open to genuinely listen to everyone, irrespective of how busy my schedule is, or how challenging a conversation is to be had. I do sincerely believe that it’s very important to meet face-to-face with my teams, so I always make the effort to do so as often as I physically can."

When it comes to meetings, Anton typically has around 20 to 30 a week. “I’m very mindful of my time so I can maximize my productivity. I don’t like doing long calls - I try to keep them under 30 minutes - however, if it’s a valued client or one-on-one presentation, I always try to accommodate others’ schedules above my own”. Staying on track and making sure he has time to do his actual tasks requires little more than planning and organizing his calendar and meetings. “In addition to setting a clear and short agenda for each meeting I have with others, I also coordinate my schedule to enable myself to actually ‘do’ my assigned work, in addition to planning and strategizing new projects”. Introductory meetings are often done via Whereby and follow-up calls are done over the phone. “Despite in-person being my preferred method, It’s not always possible or efficient to coordinate meetings in this way,” he explains.

“I screen share for work-in-progress meetings, for completed brand creative, marketing and digital content, and also when I’m coordinating virtual personal shopping sessions for my International clients, so video comes in handy”.

“The luxury fashion and creative industries are global, and so are many of its clients,” Anton explains about the industry he works in. “With the digitalization of shopping, most larger brands and retailers have established personal shopping teams across multiple geographies to enhance their productivity, and also cater for around-the-clock customer demand.” But, does he think these industries and how people work in them will be forever changed? “For permanent change to occur across industries and facets of life, I believe that there needs to be a deep and inevitable shift in traditional ideology,” he muses. “The global pandemic of 2020 highlighted where professional culture hadn’t but should have moved towards a long time ago. Flexible and remote working isn’t just an option anymore, it’s a workplace norm.”

How does he help make that shift more seamless for his team? “Discipline, kindness, patience, and making sure that all voices in the (virtual) room are heard. It’s an evolving process to understand individuals’ favoured working styles and preferences. My teams work best when there are clear deliverables and time frames set.” For Anton personally, his environment is a big driver for getting work done. “I love to be near the ocean, or someplace with large open French windows and an inspiring view, but mostly, I don’t really mind where I’m working from. For the purpose of producing quality output, my preference is to be in a setting that enables some peace and quiet.”

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