ELI PIRIAN: What got you interested in your field and how did you get started?
ANDREW ASCH: I was interested in writing. I was interested in adventure. So I thought working as a reporter could make me a good writer and give me a few interesting stories to tell.
For a good chunk of time, the reality of journalism had nothing to do with the fantasy. It took me years to be able to write a decent sentence. As for adventure, I spent a lot of hours sitting in the back of city council meetings and school board meetings in small suburban towns. But I kept plugging away.
After a few years of working at community newspapers for the Orange County Register, I freelanced articles on music and business for various publications. I did a couple of articles on fashion. A former editor for the Apparel News saw the stories. She contacted me for a freelance assignment. The story was received well. About a month later, the retail editor job opened up. I got the gig. I joined California Apparel News in December 2003.
EP: What are some of the most surprising lessons you’ve learned along the way?
AA: There are no shortcuts. The only way to get something done well is to take every step needed to accomplish a task. I had to talk to everyone needed for a story. I needed to double-check every fact—otherwise, it’s too easy to make a mistake. I’d rather get it right than catch the hell of making a dumb mistake.
EP: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
AA: Do your best and be sincere. I was at a nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. One of the rabbis speaking at the reception following the ceremony gave that advice. He told a story about a crowd of people who wanted to get advice from King Solomon. Everyone expected that Solomon would give some transcendental advice. They got him wrong. His advice was simple: “Do your best and be sincere.” What he said made sense.
Be sincere about your goals, focus on doing them, and do your best to accomplish them. No superpowers required. It’s something that is within everyone’s grasp.
EP: What do you love about the apparel industry?
AA: I love the creativity of the industry and its continued optimism. This business has trudged through a few years of some pretty lousy headlines, yet entrepreneurs continue to open new stores. They continue to come out with new looks. Almost every week, I meet highly talented designers, retailers, and entrepreneurs who are coming out with something new. One of the best things about this job is reporting about their ventures.
EP: What do you think the industry will look like in five or ten years’ time?
AA: No one knows. It’s changed so fast. It continues to change at lightning speed. The companies best able to roll with the changes will be the ones most open to experiment. It may seem like a bland answer, but it’s the only thing that makes sense during a time when the rules seem to change as fast as they are made.
The NPD Group recently came out with good predictions for retail in 2018. Here are a few: We’re going to see more digital commerce; bricks-and-mortar stores will have to be more experiential, and retail will remain very promotional. I think we’re going to see more of that beyond 2018.
Andrew Asch is the Retail Editor for the California Apparel News.
Andrew’s Contact information is:
P 213-627-3737 ext. 229