ESQ&A With Robert Tateossian

From fully functioning watches in glorious detail that can be worn on the cuff, to incorporating materials such as fossilised wood and precious stones, Tateossian has become the byword for interesting, well-made cufflinks.

BY Janie Cai | Jun 7, 2016 | Accessories


Robert Tateossian, founder of Tateossian, created lines of unique cufflinks for the discerning gent. From fully functioning watches in glorious detail that can be worn on the cuff, to incorporating materials such as fossilised wood and precious stones, Tateossian has become the byword for interesting, well-made cufflinks. Of Lebanese, Palestinian and Armenian mix, Robert Tateossian was born in Kuwait and raised in Italy and easily speaks seven languages. Esquire Singapore speaks to the man who now has stores in over 50 countries, with products sold in over 1500 outlets worldwide. 

Are cufflinks still relevant? Especially given the proliferation of casual style in today’s culture?
Cufflinks remain the perfect way to look polished and dress with a certain panache–whether wearing a suit–or jeans and a sports jacket. In many professional circles it is still the only way to finish your wardrobe and come across as a true gentleman

In a formal or business formal occasion, men are usually in similar attire, which means that the details stand out and become a point of focus. Are cufflinks barometers of a person’s personality?
You hit the nail on the head with this question…cufflinks are the ultimate expression of character…it reflects your mood at the moment, and is the ultimate sign of individuality. A person wearing a silver colour knot cufflink has definitely a different personality from the one wearing a meteorite piece on the cuff. Both are unique and distinct.

How has travel and being exposed to different cultures aided you in creating your brand?  Did you have a mentor or someone to guide you when you were starting out, and what did you learn from this person?
There is no question that growing up on different continents  has removed any fear of travelling when setting up my business. Not only did the languages ease dialogue but cultural sensitivities helped me close deals by better understanding my clients. Sadly, I did not have a mentor during this process–and learned more as a process of trial and error.

The strategy for expansion has been both varied and aggressive, and it has served the brand well. With over 72 employees with showrooms all over the world and the brand sell in over 71 countries, with more than 1000 points of sale, in the most prestigious, fashionable boutiques and department stores – Tsum in Moscow, Harrods in London, Saks in New York and Isetan in Tokyo to name a few. Was this part of the business plan from the start or did it develop in a more organic way?
When you set out to create a business you never know how your development path is going to unfold. I had not charted a map of growth–especially since I did not have any shareholders to answer to. My client list and the geographical locations grew year on year by attending over 16 trade shows per year and by scouring the globe for new customers.  It was by adopting a “crocodile skin” to deal with rejection and by ratcheting thousands of air miles travelling around the world, knocking on doors that I was lucky to build my international network of clients.

How do you see yourself growing Tateossian beyond the traditional retail markets?
The digital arena is clearly an area of explosive growth–one that is constantly changing and evolving–whether it’s selling via traditional e-commerce websites or via social network sites and is an area to which we are dedicating a lot of resources.

Aside from traditional retailing we are have a presence in the duty free sector–whether this means a trolley on an aircraft 30,000 feet in the air, a boutique in an airport location, or a luxury sea liner cruising the oceans.

Which aspect of travel is the most addictive for you?
I am not sure that I find any aspect of travel is addictive, what I do like is travel that is predictable. When you spend over 70 percent of your time travelling you wish to minimise unexpected surprises. I always prefer to know which seat I am going to have on an aircraft and which room I am going to sleep in a hotel–though the occasional upgrades does create a pleasant element of surprise.

What pair are you wearing now and what does that say about you…?
Today, I am wearing a pair of amethyst cufflinks to go with my navy shirt and navy jacket. I always believe that cufflinks should complement the colours you are wearing and reflect the mood of the occasion. Since I was attending a trade show today I wanted to wear something luxurious but always with an element of fun.Check out from from the Tateossian collection here.