Quincy Korte-King is the Head of Digital Personal Shopping at SSENSE, a multi-brand retailer where users can shop from 500+ luxury labels, emerging designers and streetwear brands.
Were you always interested in fashion growing up?
Yes, definitely. Despite being interested in fashion, I had a bit of a roundabout route to get here.
When I was applying for university, I actually wanted to go to Parsons but my parents were hesitant and said if we’re gonna send you to school in the US ( I’m Canadian) maybe pursue a more traditional path. I could still work in fashion, but I’d have a fallback, so I ended up going to NYU Stern and studying finance.
How did you become the Head of Digital Personal Shopping at SSENSE?
I joined SSENSE as an Associate Product Manager, and I was working on our Warehouse Management System, a supply chain software that runs warehouses and distribution.
That’s where I learned to execute at SSENSE, but I wasn’t really interested in warehouse management and was super transparent about that when I started.
Once I proved myself, I was promoted to PM and given other opportunities across the product department.
Eventually I was the PM for all of the tech that the styling teams were using, and I got to know the business, the problems, and the strategy. When the Head of Digital Personal Shopping role opened up I was top of mind.
What does it mean to be Head of Digital Personal Shopping?
Personal shopping is a business within SSENSE – we’re a sales team and customer experience team that takes care of SSENSE’s highest value customers.
My role is to look at this business from a big-picture perspective, advocate for the business and lead the team: What is our long-term strategy? How are we going to get there? What do we need to focus on?
There’s a lot of quantitative analysis that goes into it. I always need to understand how we are performing and why, whether it’s geographies, types of customers, cyclical periods of the year, feedback from clients and our stylists.
Feedback from the clients and stylists is just as important as the quantitative data.
All of this enables me to set the strategy and remove obstacles the stylists and managers are facing in order to help them achieve.
What makes SSENSE different from other companies?
Two things: Product assortment/ curation and the SSENSE POV (point of view).
When a luxury retailer becomes a certain size they start to carry a lot of the same brands.
We will invest in emerging designers who may not be big yet but we love their product, and we want to take a chance on them. An example of this is Marshall Columbia , a newer Brooklyn designer who makes really interesting bags and clothing.
Outside of the literal fashion is the SSENSE POV which plays into the curation piece.
You see the SSENSE POV in the products that we carry and the fact that our homepage has no product; it’s completely editorial.
We also do fashion collaborations with really cool people that aren’t obvious choices like Jeremy Harris, an award winning playwright and actor.
We’re very intentional about these decisions and I think that sets us apart.
We make an intentional choice to work with up-and-comers. We want to be a part of these designers and creators journeys and celebrate them.
What do you think of AR in the fashion industry?
I think AR definitely has a lot of potential. Snapchat is doing really cool things with AR through their filters.
Our Personal Shopping customers generally want the most elevated experience, and part of that is touching and feeling the clothes – that physical interaction is important.
However, for the daily consumer I think there’s a lot of potential to figure out sizing & making sure it’s the perfect fit without having to actually try on products.
Tides are shifting and physical retail is never going to be the same. It will never go away completely or be completely replaced by tech like AR, but I think physical retail is going to become a lot more intentional.
If you could have complete access to anyone wardrobe or closet, who would it be and why?
Iris Apfel. I feel like she has the funnest, loudest pieces but everything she has probably has a story behind it.
Personally, I dress very basic in blacks, whites, navy. You could call it a capsule wardrobe .
If I could have anybody else’s wardrobe, I’d want it to transport me and be a bit more fun because I don’t do that myself as much.
What is your view on fashion trends?
I don’t like the idea of a trend or fad. If I like it, I’ll keep wearing it.
Take biker shorts for example. Two years ago if you saw someone wearing biker shorts they were “in the know”, now everybody wears them.
I have biker shorts and it’s a part of my everyday wardrobe for the next 10 – 15 years until it comes back into trend!
I buy clothing that will be a part of my everyday look. I’m here to make it stay.
On that note, the jewelry you’re wearing right now is really cool. What are you wearing?
Well this one necklace is from my grandma, so I guess it’s technically vintage.
This other necklace is Laura Lombardi and she’s based out of New York. We actually sell her collection on SSENSE.
My earrings are Mejuri. I’m really wearing a mix of everything – some cooler “trendy” designers, some hand-me-downs.
Having previously worked in consulting and investment banking, what is your perspective on career paths?
Careers are not linear. I’ve learned not to put myself in boxes because when I’ve done that in the past, I found it limiting.
For example, I wouldn’t say that I work in fashion because it’s so much more than that. I work at a tech-first, ecommerce company that sells luxury fashion but I also lead a sales team there.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people starting out their career?
Wherever you end up, you’ll probably look back and think holy shit when I was in university I’d have never imagined that I would be here.
Another thing is that it’s ok to not know where you’re heading. There’s a lot of pressure to have a set goal and know exactly what you want to do.
When you say x place is my dream company, x role is my dream role, and you idolize things (which is really easy to do and I still do it all the time), you know make up a world in your head and it’s really easy to be let down.
I’d recommend asking yourself questions like what specific things do you want to learn? Is there a specific environment you want to be in?
Asking yourself these questions allows you to find a variety of things that can fit those wants and needs.
When you’re in school, you’re constantly fed these lines like “love your job and you’re never going to work a day in your life” or “hustle culture” – which is especially big living in New York and attending NYU.
I haven’t loved a lot of my jobs and finding out what you don’t like is just as important as finding out what you do like.
I’ve had many responsibilities in my past roles that I didn’t love but were absolutely worthwhile and were transferrable.
Understanding how to optimize and learn from certain parts of your job and then applying it to something new is really important.