“I like to tread the line between dressing up and dressing down,” says Tiffany Hsu as she sits curled up on the sofa of her cosy flat in Shoreditch, wearing a cropped beige tracksuit and a pair of New Balance trainers, her signature bob defiantly razor-sharp. As the fashion buying director of Munich-based e-commerce site Mytheresa.com, Hsu is one of the women shaping the way we shop, and has a particularly good eye for mixing established luxury brands with emerging talent. “At Mytheresa, we showcase just over 300 labels and that’s where we’d like to keep it,” she says. “I want to make sure it’s a tight edit—that we’re only offering what we think is the very best.”
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Hsu was born in Taiwan and moved to the UK when she was 14 to attend a Shropshire boarding school. “I’d never been to a foreign country before and I could hardly speak English—it was a bit of a culture shock,” she recalls. That didn’t stop her from pioneering a new look. “I was the first girl in school to get a piercing and a pair of electric blue Kickers,” she says, laughing. “But then I grew up kind of a tomboy too, with super-short, cropped hair.”
Hsu’s aspirations for a career in fashion were ignited while flicking through the pages of a magazine featuring the Chinese collection that John Galliano had created for Dior. “It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen,” she says, “and when I found out he went to Central Saint Martins, I just told my parents that that’s where I’m going.” She proceeded to do exactly that, leaving school at 17 and taking her portfolio to London, where she was offered a place studying fashion design at the prestigious college. To make ends meet, Hsu worked part-time at a friend’s stall on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. “I remember being very cold all the time because you had to start at around 5am and fight with other sellers for the best spot if you didn’t have a permanent stand.”
Despite her lack of traditional buying or business training, Hsu’s CV is a testament to her dedication and her ability to build a career on determination and hard graft. She started on the shop floor at the London boutique Feathers, where she worked first as a sales assistant, then as a store manager, before finally becoming a buying assistant. “It was a small, family-run business, so I learned directly from the owners,” she says. “Plus, I spent a lot of time with customers, so I got to understand consumer behaviour really well.” After five years at Feathers, she moved to Hong Kong to join the buying team at Lane Crawford, before returning to London to work for Selfridges in the same department.
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Hsu joined Mytheresa as a buying manager in 2015 and has been at the helm of the team for the past three years, responsible for curating a collection of clothes that she knows her customers will immediately love. “I think having a foundation in bricks and mortar is invaluable,” she says, “but there are huge differences between buying for a store and for online. You need to be able to catch someone’s eye in those first seconds when they’re scrolling through their phone.” As well as attending runway shows and spending hours in showrooms reviewing the latest pieces, Hsu uses Instagram to connect with new and undiscovered brands. For example, Mytheresa was one of the earliest supporters of Nanushka, the Budapest- based label known for its vegan-leather staples. “We’re celebrating creativity, regardless of whether someone has won a prize or they’re famous or they have a lot of Instagram followers,” Hsu says. “What’s important is that we believe in the product.”
Case in point: Almost all of her own wardrobe comes from Mytheresa’s ever-evolving family of labels. “I would like to think I’m quite eclectic—not in a weird way, but I would try wearing anything,” says Hsu. “My style is sporty and relaxed, and always a little bit androgynous. I much prefer shorts to a skirt, let’s put it that way!” Her favourite designers change frequently. “Currently, it’s Bottega Veneta, but I used to love the old Céline,” she says. “I also wear a lot of Jacquemus, KHAITE, Prada, The Attico and Cecilie Bahnsen, and shoes from Amina Muaddi. We have a young US-based designer Peter Do, who does the most sophisticated tailoring—he’s definitely one to watch.” When it comes to jewellery, Hsu accessorises with pieces by Alessandra Rich, the British maker Tilly Sveaas and the Copenhagen- based ELHANATI. “Plus, I recently discovered a brand called EÉRA that is doing really well for us—it has turned fine jewellery into something more modern and fun.”
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After jetting between offices in Munich and London for a number of years, Hsu has settled into life in Shoreditch during recent months, at the new-build apartment she moved into two years ago with her husband. “We try to keep it quite minimalist because it’s not very big,” she says, “but having spent so much time in it these past weeks, I’m currently looking for a new sofa, I think I need different blinds and I want to change my table.” A lesson in industrial chic, the elegant space features cement walls, marble-block tables, mid-century lights and floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the sitting room and flood the area with light. Dotted throughout are framed photographs from the couple’s low-key wedding five years ago, held at the Town Hall and attended by a mere 10 people. “I wore a body and a white organza maxi skirt with grey flowers printed all over it, by Yang Li—and that was only to sign the papers!” she says. A “proper party to celebrate” is on the cards in the future, and you can’t help but feel that whatever Hsu chooses to wear will undoubtedly be well worth waiting for.
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