With a 40-plus year fashion career and as President of Ready-to-Wear and Accessories for UBM Fashion, the largest producer of fashion trade shows in the world, it’s safe to say that Tom Nastos knows a thing or two about the industry.
Nastos was a private entrepreneur in the fashion industry prior to joining the trade show industry. As the Founder and CEO of Endurance LLC, a manufacturer and distributor of apparel and footwear, he secured licensing deals with renowned brands, including Rocawear, Ecko, Pro Keds, Joseph Abboud, Paper Denim & Cloth, and more. Over a 20-year period, the companies Tom owned produced over $2 billion in sales. He joined the trade show industry as President/CEO of ENK in 2009, then CEO of Advanstar Global in 2012 (which acquired ENK), and now as President of RTW and Accessories for UBM, (which acquired Advanstar in 2016). Today, UBM Fashion produces a large volume of fashion events in New York, Las Vegas and even Japan, including Coterie, AccessoriesTheShow, Circuit, WWDMAGIC, Project Womens and many more.
Nastos will be awarded with the Accessories Council’s prestigious Hall of Fame Award during NY Men’s and Women’s July, the industry’s first dual-gender B2B marketplace held July 22-24 at the Javits Center.
There will also be a reception in Nastos’ honor on July 23rd at the Javits from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.
For tickets, click here.
Accessories Magazine caught up with Nastos (full disclosure, his office is around the corner from ours), to discuss his long fashion career on both sides of the aisle, and how he’s involved in giving back through DeliveringGood.
You’ve spent your entire career in fashion. Was this in your blood?
No, it wasn’t in the family. It really just happened by chance. I have a Bachelors Degree in Supply Chain Management and Textile Engineering, and have had a great career with multiple companies in womenswear, menswear, accessories licensees and footwear. I’ve been in every sector.
How has coming from the manufacturing side of fashion informed your trade show expertise?
I was an exhibitor for 30-plus years, and having worked with so many classifications, I’ve pretty much exhibited at every show. That’s given me a clear understanding of the needs and requirements of our customer. I was the customer for 30 years. At the same time, as an exhibitor, I established long-term retail relations and understand the needs of the retailer and their customer. I built my career with significant expertise in supply chain management, and to manage a complex supply chain in fashion, as our exhibitors know, you have to be organized, you have to be global, and that really helped me tremendously in managing events. I understand the needs and the calendar of every single sector. I’ve dealt with them. And their challenges.
You were integral in shifting the 2018 fashion calendar dates. What was the impetus for that?
Actually, it’s been a 6 or 7-year process of looking at the change [shifting May Market to June and moving August to July for a first-ever dual gender marketplace]. It all starts with consumer behavior. And that impacts the requirements from our customers [exhibitors], which in turn impacts the supply chain. So I ask: in this new world, how do we best position everybody for success? We felt strongly that the status quo, which had served the industry very well in the past, was no longer sustainable.
Since not everyone likes change, how are you engaging the industry to move forward?
The goal is to continue to work with all our partners and make the adjustments to meet their needs. This is a very fluid situation. It’s an ongoing story, just like fashion. After all, you don’t create one style and live with it forever. Fashion has a constant goal of innovation, and our goal is to be innovative, to be bold and to provide the leadership for people to come together and express what their needs are. It’s key that this is not a top-down decree. Everybody is involved in the process, which doesn’t mean that everyone will be happy, but we’ll then reflect on the consensus opinion.
The whole retailing paradigm has shifted since you started in fashion. What have been the biggest changes/challenges for you to wrap your head around and switch gears?
Clearly, the channels of distribution are shifting, and that’s having an impact on how our exhibitors are bringing product to market. Everybody’s adjusting to these new models, which in turn affects how people present their product and when they present it. That’s the challenge… and the significant opportunity. That’s what we’re looking to unlock. The consumer wants it their way, they want it now, and they want the convenience.
And they want to feel good about their purchases! Does giving back factor in more importantly now?
Definitely. Consumers are more attuned today to how companies give back, and for Millennials, it’s one of the key decision makers for their purchases. Even corporate models are shifting so philanthropy and business go together. Brands promote their efforts on their websites too, as consumers really demand that transparency.
What’s been your personal experience with philanthropy?
I’m on the Board for Delivering Good, which is an amazing organization. Throughout the course of my career, and coming from a modest background, I always felt giving back was important as an industry. What I really loved about the fashion community was its diversity and its generosity. At UBM, we have a significant impact not just on the city of New York but around the country and the world of what we bring. It’s important that all of us participate in giving back.
How does Delivering Good specifically provide for those in need?
It’s all about product. We work with every sector of the fashion community to get them to donate new merchandise, which we expedite to families in need and in areas of disaster relief. We’ve given $1.6 billion of product, and we’re there for families every day, from disaster relief in the Caribbean to Syrian refugees. The fashion industry always has extra product and we help get it to the right people.
How are you helping groom the next generation of fashion designers and disruptors?
I work with the CFDA, F.I.T. (where I went to school) and Cornell (where my three kids went to school), and I’m active in Cornell’s new Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island in New York. There’s a tremendous amount of new talent coming into our industry and it’s our role to provide opportunities so the technology this talent develops is available to consumers.
Are you talking product or retail technology?
New technology for retail. It’s easier today to communicate with people than ever before, which, of course, can be a blessing and a curse. The level of talent I see, especially in accessories, is amazing. I always see great things in our business. We just need to bring that to the market.
On a personal level, what would people in the industry be surprised to know about you?
My real name is actually Athanasios (a 1,000-year-old Greek name that means immortal) but my sister couldn’t pronounce it so my parents starting calling me Tom.
And if you weren’t working in fashion, what career would you have?
That’s a good question, as it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. I guess I’d be a boating captain. And now that I have that visual, I can start planning my future retirement…