Tapestry’s Talent Playbook

Matthew Trent works across Tapestry’s iconic brands to ensure continuing success in bringing in the best and brightest

Matthew Trent, Tapestry

In October 2017, Coach Inc. made waves as it unveiled its new name for the parent company—Tapestry, evoking beautiful, complex works of art. The company chose the name to reflect its new era as the first New York-based house of modern luxury lifestyle brands that includes Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman.

As vice president, global talent, Matthew Trent says the name change was about driving clarity both internally and externally when communicating about the company as a whole versus the brands that it represents. Trent loves the new name because he says that it works as both a metaphor for the company’s multibrand focus and for the unique composition of its employee base.

“What’s beautiful about the word tapestry is that it is really about individual expression and collective beauty and the intersection between those two things,” Trent says. “And when you think about how that applies to my role, it is about the individual expression of people and how we can thread that individuality and diversity across the organization to create new opportunities for the people who work here.”

For Trent, his role at Tapestry is the continuation of a path that he set out on early in life. Fashion and retail are a family tradition. His grandfather worked in a men’s clothing store throughout Trent’s childhood and continues to work as a greeter every Saturday. That early familiarity and passion for the industry grew into a professional interest, and Trent’s first job after graduating from Harvard was in human resources for Ralph Lauren. His path then took him across the pond to London and Paris, where he successively earned senior positions with Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.

In his current role, he works from the company’s New York headquarters. Although he is thrilled to be back in the “greatest city in the world,” he says his time living in Europe gave him a global perspective that has proved invaluable in understanding the needs of a company with interests throughout the world.

“When you are in the luxury retail space, everything is driven by the client and what they are ultimately looking for,” he says. “The closer you can get to the client and understand what his or her connections to the brand are, the better.” Spending time overseas allowed him to understand the nuances and talent demands of the different markets. He says it also helped him network so he can now connect with talent more easily to meet talent demand.

“Matthew is a phenomenal partner when it comes to employer branding and talent management,” says Robyn M. Soto of Russell Reynolds Associates. “He works hard to ensure the experiences candidates have throughout the recruiting process match and are consistent with the experiences customers have with the Tapestry brand in their various channels and touch points.”

Trent’s role is equally about talent acquisition and thinking about talent strategically. Working across all of Tapestry’s brands, he balances external recruitment with internal, strategic initiatives, such as developing talent and succession planning. “It’s constantly balancing the short-term with the long-term,” he says. “We are in an industry that is ever-evolving, and with that, it is necessary for us to constantly network and connect with people for opportunities we might have today. However, we must also look at what opportunities we might have for tomorrow. It is incumbent on all of us to stay ahead of the curve, to make sure we are anticipating client demands.”

One way Trent’s team is ensuring that they identify and connect with the best talent is through a massive revamping of the company’s careers website. Now, for the first time, Tapestry.com displays all of the openings across its brands so internal candidates can see all available positions.

Another way his team ensures employee success is through an extensive onboarding process that helps people not only through their first one hundred days, but also to make certain they are truly set up for success. “Being a big, fast-moving company, we don’t have a ton of lag time,” Trent says. “So, the better job we can do to get people’s feet on the ground as soon as possible the better we are setting them up for success.”

In the initial stages of the hiring process, there are a few key traits he and his team look for in new team members. One of the most important factors is finding someone with a global mind-set who can balance analytics, intuition, and follow-through. Due to the ever-changing nature of luxury retail, someone who is flexible and can execute ideas is crucial.

It’s equally important for Trent and his team to ensure that candidates embody the values that drive the culture at Tapestry: optimism, inclusivity, and innovation. “What sets us apart is we are a very values-driven company,” Trent explains. “We believe that, if we foster our values, then we are going to be able to welcome diverse talent, ignite their imaginations to create new ideas, and leverage their optimism and hard work to bring their ideas to life. We believe that is the perfect formula for success—that with hard work anything is possible.”

And certainly last but not least he is looking for people who are inspired by Tapestry’s brands. “Being a brand-driven environment, we want people who feel connections to the brands they are working for,” he says. “Because at the end of the day, there is a lot of passion and energy that goes into designing and selling beautiful products, and we want people to feel a natural connection to it.”