With a career in fashion that started ten years ago at Harrods and has gone on to include key roles at Selfridges, iconic London boutique Browns and online fashion destination Avenue 32, where she is fashion and brand director, Erin Mullaney has one seriously stellar style CV.
We chatted to her about the unconventional path she took to become one of the industry’s most respected buyers, her best London discoveries, and her passion for a good skincare regime.
As one of the UK’s most successful fashion buyers you must have built up quite a wardrobe. What do you wear on a typical day?
If I have a day of meetings, I will try to wear heels or boots with slim jeans or a leather pencil skirt and a cosy knit. As a buyer, we run around a lot, constantly going from one showroom to the next, so we try to dress as comfortably and stylishly as possible. I really try not to be led by seasonal trends – you don’t want to look like a fashion victim – I think my style has become much more pared-down and simple as I’ve got older.
On weekends, I generally wear the same thing all the time! I’m really into overalls at the moment, so that is a comfy weekend thing for me… I love my trainers, Nike Air Max and Stan Smith’s are my favourites. I also love knits by Cos & Acne, anything striped by A.P.C and a cashmere beanie bobble hat by Inverni, my Shrimps faux-fur Dulcie coat or my army parka by Yves Salomon.
What was the last thing you bought?
A beautiful Drew handbag from Chloé’s SS15 collection in blush/tan. It’s in the ad campaign and I have been thinking about it since the catwalk show last October – I knew I had to have it. I had to go to Paris to the Chloé store to find it as they are sold out everywhere in the UK.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
My father once told me the way to get ahead is to make sure your boss looks good, that way, when they get promoted or move on they will take you with them.
What would you say to anyone aspiring to work in the fashion industry?
That the most important thing to do is to spend time nurturing and developing the colleagues around you. Good people are hard to find so when you do, it’s important to spend time encouraging and teaching them. You are only as strong as the team around you.
What can someone do in an interview or during the job process to impress you?
Be themselves and do some preparation and research. There is nothing I hate more than people telling you things they think you want to hear – I can spot a phoney from a mile off. It also irritates me when people turn up for an interview and haven’t spent any time researching the company, job role or industry – don’t waste other people’s time unless you are serious about wanting the job.
When it comes to navigating that tricky work / life balance, what do you think is most important?
When we look back on our lives, we are going to remember the personal achievements (family, friends, being a good partner, being a good mother or child) way more than our professional ones, so make sure you spend a good amount of time on those things – they are the most important.
So how do you spend your time off?
I love going to my local pub The Cow in Westbourne Grove – I always order the Fish Stew. And my boyfriend and I are obsessed with St Paul’s Cathedral. We have season passes and take everyone who comes to visit us to see it. We also go to the Whispering Gallery on our own sometimes.
I also like to workout – I’m a runner, always have been - it helps me to work through problems and clear my head. The endorphins make me feel great afterwards and I’ve started going to Barrecore classes in Notting Hill 3-4 times a week to tone-up, refine my posture and strengthen my core. I absolutely love it.
How about diet, are you’re an advocate of healthy eating?
Definitely, for me, sugar is the enemy, it gives me headaches and stomach cramps and makes me feel generally lethargic. I can’t drink milk either so almond milk is my preferred substitute. I also love to snack on carrots with hummus and salted almonds during the day, and I love a green juice or crispy kale – put some olive oil on and grill it for 10 minutes – yummy. But at the weekends I do treat myself – my boyfriend cooks the most amazing roast dinner and we make chicken broth from the carcass and eat that for the next few days.
What about beauty.. which products could you not live without?
So many! I am a bit OTT with my skincare regime. My boyfriend often jokes that it takes me 20 minutes to get ready for bed because of all the creams and lotions I put on.
I wash with Dermalogica Skin resurfacing cleanser morning and night – it tingles when you put it on which makes me feel like it’s doing something good, and if I have time I will use a Clarisonic face brush to really get all the makeup and dirt off.
I also love serums like B5 Hydrating (anything with Hyaluronic Acid is great for retaining moisture in the skin) and I use Skinceuticals Blemish & Age Defence Serum every night which helps with spots and fine lines as well as brown sun spots and discoloration.
I have an obsession with French chemists products and use Embryolisse face cream every night – it literally feels like you are putting a blanket on your skin. And if I’m looking tired or pale, I use Clarins Radiance-Plus day cream with self-tanner in it in the morning and my skin will be glowing by lunch time.
In the winter, I always use a facial oil at night on top of my cream for extra hydration. At the moment, I am using L’Oreal's amazing Facial Oil and I also love REN Rose oil.
If I have spots or dry skin I have recently discovered that putting Sudocrem on your face (yes, the cream that you put on babies’ bums) is amazing for healing dry skin and making your skin generally soft and smooth.
And what about makeup?
I try not to wear much makeup at all if I can get away with it. On a normal day, I will wear Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturiser (and Radiance Primer underneath for an amazing glow) and then use Laura Mercier Secret Concealer for spots and Nars the Multiple Stick in Orgasm for a healthy glow on my cheeks. I seem to have an allergy to almost all mascaras which is why I never wear any, but if I have to the only one that works for me is Chantecaille Faux Cils Mascara which smells like roses. It’s very moisturising and comes off easily at night. I also love Laura Mercier lip glosses and the best red lip is by far the Nars Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl. It stays on for hours and is the perfect bright red lip.
And beauty discoveries you’ve come across that you can share?
False lashes – If I could sit through the tedious 2 hours it takes to apply them once a month I would definitely do it because it makes my eyes more pronounced and awake and it means I don’t have to suffer through mascara. I also love to treat myself to an oxygen facial with glycolic peel from Jacqueline Parker at the Soma Centre in Kensington, once in a while. It’s a 90-minute treatment and I come out looking 5 years younger, plus, it lasts for about 2-3 weeks.
Hair wise it's all about George Northwood’s new salon on Wells Street. Stephen Ledbury, the senior stylist there, has been cutting my hair for years and is one of the best. George’s lovely sister Sally does my colour too.