Sunday, 31 March 2013

Interview: Avenue 32 Part I: Roberta Benteler

It's my pleasure to introduce the first of a two part series of interviews with Roberta Benteler and Erin Mullaney of luxury e-commerce website Avenue 32. 

Founded in 2011 by Roberta, Avenue 32 showcases up and coming fashion graduates alongside established industry heroes including Preen, Hussein Chalayan and Zac Posen. The site gives each designer the opportunity to create his or her own online shop, featuring their own imagery and videos, simultaneously creating consumer interaction and giving designers the ability to control their own online presence. I caught up with founder Roberta to discuss the story behind the next Net-A-Porter!

Where are you and what are you doing right now? I am currently in the office. We were meant to be in NYC this week, but unfortunately due to Blizzard Nemo we had to cancel our trip. On the bright side though this means we will be fresh and rested for London Fashion Week, which for me is probably the most exciting one.

Tell us about your past jobs. What lead you to your current position? Originally having worked in finance I decided to take time off to pursue my interest in the fashion industry. In 2010 I worked for a young designer, a key experience which enabled me to see the market from a designer’s point of view. I realised how many of them (young or established) struggle to control the way that their brand is portrayed online and to communicate what their brand is about.  Avenue 32 was born out of the desire to create a platform that caters to and supports customers’ and designers’ needs alike, offering the highest level of service as well as an exciting and fresh brand mix.

Tell us a little bit about the concept for Avenue 32. Avenue 32 is am ecommerce retailer that provides designers with a platform to operate in a multi – brand environment, but where they are able to curate their very own shop in shops within our e-store. Designers are in control of their content, from how their collections are presented to adding different element such as video content, images, catwalk material, inspirational pictures and texts and so on.
At the beginning of the season, we will sit down with the designers and suggest to them the styles and ranges we love and think would work. The designers then select the styles they want to go with and produce them for us. We take care of the rest, such as the photography, warehousing, packaging, shipping and marketing. So instead of buying for wholesale we take a commission on retail, which means designers can earn up to twice as much as with the traditional wholesale model.

What makes Avenue 32 unique? The concept for one, but also the fact that Erin and I have a real passion for discovering new designers, hopefully makes for an exciting and different brand mix.

Does your personal style influence what you buy for the shop? Yes definitely, but it is also important to think about our customers when selecting. My personal taste is definitely not always the most commercial.

What is your one piece of fashion or beauty advice? My fashion advice would be to figure out what shapes and colours suit you and stick to it instead of going with every trend.
In terms of beauty advice, it would have to be hydrate and exercise!

What does a typical work day look like for you? There are no typical days, as we travel so much and there are always meetings and new developments when we are in the office.

What are your five essentials?
My Rag & Bone Wonderland skinny jeans
Isabel Marant ankle boots
Anything Peter Pilotto & Celine
My Balenciaga coat
My Blackberry

What are you top three pieces available in the shop right now?
Any beauty rituals? I have an amazing facialist who I see every two weeks if possible. I also have a manicure once a week and exercise at least 4 times a week. 

 Describe your perfect day? A summer day at my house in Portugal with my boyfriend, swimming, reading, relaxing, followed by dinner at my favourite restaurant, which makes the best giant red prawns in the world!

For more of Roberta's work, visit her website.


  1. It'd be so great to see a facialist every two weeks. How lovely.

    Kate from Clear the Way

  2. Lovely interview! Look very much forward to the second part...