5 minutes with Marco D’Avanzo, Vice President – Global Sales, Moose Knuckles

Since it launched in the UK five years ago, Moose Knuckles has been cultivating an underground following, gaining notoriety in the fashion scene for its transgressive collections and high-profile collaborations. We caught up with senior executive Marco D’Avanzo to learn more about the outerwear brand and retailer.

5 minutes with Marco D’Avanzo, Vice President – Global Sales, Moose Knuckles
Marco D’Avanzo.

Tell me a bit about the Moose Knuckles story.

Moose Knuckles was founded in 2009 in Montreal, Canada. In 1921, our family of old-world outdoorsmen ventured above and beyond into northern lands, where they were inspired by the moose’s incredible ability to stay warm in the coldest place on earth. And so began our coat-making journey of crafting resilient garment that would endure the most unforgiving conditions.

Today, the spirit of the moose lives on in our brand born from the tundra, made for the concrete jungle. Our name pays homage to the majestic animal that inspired it all, who leaves only the trace of its knuckle in the snow, guiding voyagers on their pursuit of adventure.

When did it launch in the UK?

2015. It took a couple of years to get adopted by consumers in this highly competitive market. The fashion component of the brand is what get us noticed among all other brands, but then – once the consumer tried Moose Knuckles – they have never walked away from the superior cut and quality of our product.

What gap in the UK retail market does Moose Knuckles strive to address?

“Despite the coronavirus crisis, we didn’t experience a remarkable tailwind.”

We see an enormous opportunity for growth in our women’s business, which is going to be a big focus for us in the coming collections, campaigns, collaborations.

How is Moose Knuckles’ business model different to other outerwear retailers?

A disruptive identity and communication combined with high technical and quality standards distinguish us from our competitors. How it works is also a combination of storytelling, correct market positioning and an innovative approach to distribution.

Moose Knuckles was born from the desire to create outerwear designed to cope with the most hostile environments while its identity is clearly irreverent and challenges codes. This duality is also at the heart of the retail approach with an unexpected and refined environment for an ultimate “anti-luxury” luxury experience.

How did Moose Knuckles handle the lockdown period and how is it coping with the pandemic?

Despite the coronavirus crisis, we didn’t experience a remarkable tailwind. From a global perspective, there have been no notable break-ins. There were no serious cancellations and the order volume was stable.

How is Moose Knuckles addressing some of the challenges facing retail?

All our channels and markets are performing well as our fall/winter season takes off. Challenges are mostly related to the low predictability of the market scenario for the upcoming months. Intensity, duration, diffusion of a possible resurgence of Covid-19 will obviously have an impact in the economy and consumption trends which we cannot ignore.

Describe your role and responsibilities.

I’m responsible for the global business strategy and oversee the full scope of our European and Asian subsidiaries. I also run the global sales with teams spread across Montreal, New York, Milan, Paris and Shanghai.

I initially helped Moose Knuckles enlarge its horizons and enter the European and Asian business by setting up our operations in Europa and Asia, attracting and leading the best pool of talent in sales, marketing, operations, CS and retail.

As we positioned in 700 retailers worldwide and have started to roll out ecommerce in countries outside our home market. My job here is to get Moose Knuckles to become a leading brand in all the three regions and make sure we all grow and have fun as we do it.

“Intensity, duration, diffusion of a possible resurgence of Covid-19 will obviously have an impact in the economy and consumption trends”

Tell us a bit about your background before Moose Knuckles.

Fashion and international trade are family businesses since generations, so in the end my passion for this world is not surprising.

I started at Moose Knuckles to help the company understand and position the brand in the international luxury landscape, through my previous experiences at Woolrich, Guess, Versace and Benetton. Each of them helped me develop expertise in a different area of the business and market. My diversified career across different channels, markets and strategies has become a strength and is now all coming together at Moose Knuckles.

What got you into retail in the first place?

I completed my studies with a business case on Inditex Group, back in 2004. That got me into a start in Benetton group which was an amazing school for retail development and operations. What I enjoy the most is when a corporate view and strategy, hours and hours of meetings and work, in the end become a rewarding, fun, engaging experience for our consumers and community. That’s my best definition of success. Results are a consequence.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Being able to fully translate and idea into a project and execute it to the stare of art, in time and with the results you have imagined. It takes a great team to succeed and both experience and leadership are equally important to this recipe.

And the most rewarding?

Fashion is a dynamic world, a fluid constantly in movement, evolving in image and language season after season. Belonging to this movement and be able to make an impact in this world as we are doing with Moose Knuckles in the last years has been very rewarding (or should I say addictive?).

What advice would you give someone embarking on a career in retail?

To stay curious and open, and resist the temptation of doing things as “we used to do that way”. Experiment, innovate, challenge yourself and most importantly focus on the consumer – most answers are there.

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