Ever find yourself lusting after items on Net-a-Porter? You can thank the e-commerce giant’s Vice President of Global Buying, Sarah Rutson, for that. Her years of experience in the industry—including a 21-year stint as Fashion Director for Hong Kong’s luxury retailer Lane Crawford—and her keen eye for up-and-coming designers only begin to explain her exceptional ability to curate the world’s most covetable selection of fashion and accessories. We sat down with Sarah to learn more about everything from her career path to her off-duty uniform.
Get To Know Sarah
Sarah as a baby. @sarahrutson
"Blissfully happy. It was amazing, fun and eccentric, with funny parents who gave us three kids an exciting life with lots of travel and opportunities to meet new people all the time. We felt very loved and secure."
Her First Job
"My parents were restaurateurs. I helped them out during my school holidays. I started as a sous chef cutting veggies and peeling potatoes, then progressed to making sauces and learned how to fillet a fish all by the time I was 14."
Sarah's mother and daughter. @sarahrutson
Her Role Model
"My mother, Stella, was a career women in the '50s. She really balanced work and family. She often said that you may feel like you're not doing it right all the time, but trying to juggle everything means you're winning, because women hold up the sky. That motto has stuck with me my entire career."
Courtesy of Net-A-Porter
The Best Career Advice She's Received
"You're always going to be criticized, and sometimes envied, but never let that distract or unnerve you. Keep pushing ahead with your gut instinct, knowing you can do this."
Her Advice For Starting A Career In Fashion
"You need to be extremely passionate about this industry. It's hard work but incredibly fun and exciting. Fashion never sleeps, so that love and passion is what will keep you going and keep you fresh."
Her Key To Success
"I make things happen. I don’t sit back and expect things to come to me. You have to be creative and proactive. Collaboration is key—it keeps you and your business on the cutting edge."
The Style Differences Between Hong Kong & NYC
"There are two sides to Hong Kong. There's the half who dress up all the time, always in heels and very polished. Then there's the other side, who are very street-style focused, typically in Japanese and Korean brands and designers. New Yorkers all live on foot, so they dress for speed. They dress pragmatically for the city and its fast pace."
Social Media and e-Tailers
"There's a very refined dialogue taking place. At Net-a-Porter, we strive to offer our consumers a strong point of view and an edit that feeds into their desire for authoritative curation, rather than an explosion of everything that's available."
Her Typical Day
"No day is ever the same. When I'm in fashion season, which is more or less all the time, I'm constantly on the go, from 6am to 2am, five to six weeks at a time. When it's not buying season, I'm meeting with designers and brands discussing what's to come and working on collaborations, as well as conducting global press interviews and planning strategy for the year ahead. It's important to stay ahead of the game, which requires a lot of logistical forethought."
Her Favorite Social Media Platform
"Instagram. I am so busy that it helps keep me up to date with everything, be it my daughter, fashion insiders or the latest dog that needs to be rescued—whatever interests me. It keeps me hooked in."
Sarah with designer Phillip Lim. @sarahrutson
"Discovering designers at their earliest point gives me great pride. Not only supporting them with the buy, but also helping them develop their voice and brand identity, and working with them to ensure they're successful. Sometimes all we have is our gut and the belief that you need to go the extra mile to assist with the success story."
Her Beauty Essentials
"I love my Clarisonic skin brush. I’m obsessed with the Sarah Chapman overnight facial—especially when traveling. Dr. Lancer's three-step method—I swear by it. And I know I shouldn’t say it, but I love a little bit of sunshine with suitable sunscreen such as Lancer Skincare Sheer Fluid Sun Shield."
Photo: Vanessa Jackman
What Makes Her Feel Glamorous
"A really good blowout. If my hair isn't right, then nothing is going to feel right."
What She Wears On The Weekend
"My vintage Japanese jeans that are 20 years old, Golden Goose distressed sneakers and a giant cashmere sweater from Tibi."
Photo: Adam Katz Sinding
Her Style Muse
"Virginie Mouzat is so effortless, so very French and so naturally beautiful. She makes everything look sexy, womanly and always uncontrived. You can tell everything she wears is just her natural instinct and never looks overthought."
3 Things People Don't Know About Her
"I’m a passionate animal advocate. I'm an amazing cook. And I cry very easily, be it to a touching commercial or an emotional movie or book—I just well up."
Her Go-To Accessory
"My men's Rolex Seamaster watch. I always wear a men's watch."
Photo: Vogue Runway
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