Bucharest-bound, but an international visionary, Bogdan Lucaciu has been building the Adore Me fashion tech stack for the past decade at the CTO seat. His work has led the company to over 1M customers, with estimated sales of $250M in 2022, and a $400M deal with Victoria’s Secret. The lingerie and clothing retailer seized the opportunity to scale into the future with tech and acquired Adore Me last year.
“I met Morgan in 2010 and he asked me if I wanted to build something great together,” he tells The Recursive the origin story. Based in New York, the fashion brand was launched in 2011 by Gary Bravard and Morgan Hermand-Waiche as CEO.
Adore Me is an innovator in the lingerie sector, known for its technology-led solution, a try-at-home shopping service powered by a proprietary technology platform. The fashion tech company promotes an extensive and inclusive array of sizes, over 70 numbers, and has made important steps to become sustainable. It is a B Corp-certified enterprise, a label received due to its social and environmental performance.
In 2021, 1977-born Victoria’s Secret became a publicly traded company, with the target of stepping away from the “angels” limited label that the brand has been known for since the first pair of wings appeared on stage, in 1998.
Moving forward, its goals are to increase the diversity of its products, as well as target younger generations browsing its already busy website – 27M US active users per year, which generated $6B net sales in 2021.
In the interview below, Bogdan Lucaciu shares more about his background in computer science, as well as how he manages a team that aims to code fashion technology sustainably. Fashion is one of the largest industries in the world, a big polluter, and is predicted to be worth over $3T by 2030.
What motivated you to join the Adore Me team back in 2013? And what made you stay for almost a decade?
Bogdan Lucaciu, CTO at Adore Me: Prior to joining the Adore Me team, I was an engineer and had a software company, a career that at the time was far from the eCommerce and fashion world.
In 2010, I met Morgan and we developed a relationship so strong that he asked me if I wanted to build something great together. At first, my software company joined forces with Adore Me to address their technical needs, and a few years later, in 2013, I became the company’s CTO.
I’ve since stuck with Adore Me because Morgan and I share a very high mutual level of trust, and the endeavor has continued to challenge me intellectually year after year.
Can you describe your role as CTO, what are your responsibilities, do you still code, or you are only responsible for the management of the development team?
As CTO, I’m responsible and accountable for a team of more than 70 people, and it excites me to have a powerful team with high autonomy that can operate at full capacity on its own.
More recently, a lot of my activity has begun to revolve around creating a strong company culture and mentoring each leader within their respective functions, whether it is engineering or something else entirely.
I’ve really grown into a coaching and mentoring phase of my role. I see it as not just inspiring people and getting them to implement the vision, but also helping them get there and grow the team so that they can succeed.
How big is the team in Romania, what city, and what work do you do here in our neck of the woods?
Our Romanian office is in Bucharest and houses more than 70 employees. This office handles the majority of Adore Me’s technological innovations, including the software behind Adore Me Services (two owned logistics centers in the U.S.), the Elite At-Home Try-On Service, inventory management, marketing attribution, Adore Me’s creator platform, and more.
What’s your trick to retaining amazing talent around you in such a competitive environment? What’s one question you ask devs before joining the team?
Our process is unique in that we always invite potential candidates to lunch with the team. This helps each party understand more about one another and how we collaborate.
It has led us to have a very experienced group of individuals that are unique and complement each other’s strengths. Some core traits of our team members include being empathetic, humble, caring, open-minded, and curious learners with a “get it done” mindset.
What can you share about the development of the Adore Me tech stack over the years, any pivoting moments? How do your predictive algorithms work?
We all have a strong technical background at Adore Me, and collectively have found extremely innovative ways to constantly improve the organization’s tech stack.
The team continually automates different functions to their needs which also aligns with the evolving demands within the retail and fashion industries. The Adore Me tech team members were early adopters of certain trends like cloud computing and containerization* (*Ed. note this involves the packaging of software code so that applications can run smoothly in isolated user spaces called containers in both cloud and non-cloud environments, like on Linux and Windows operating systems, without rewriting).
What about your technology attracted the interest of Victoria’s Secret?
Victoria’s Secret was attracted to Adore Me because of our proven growth potential, dedication to inclusivity, Elite At-Home Try-On service, technological innovation, and being a B Corporation.
Victoria’s Secret is excited to improve its customer shopping experience and accelerate the modernization of the company’s digital platform through this acquisition.
What’s next tech-wise for Adore Me to keep growing and innovating now that the stakes are higher with Victoria’s Secret acquisition? What challenges do you aim to solve?
The technology that got us to where we are today will continue to provide value through this next phase as well. We’ll be doubling down on our most successful tech and scaling it.
Some of our strengths right now are our AI use cases for things like Elite Try-at-Home, which uses data to predict what items customers would like. The next step is to expand this kind of technology to other parts of the business including finance, customer acquisition, and supply chain.
With sustainability at the forefront of Adore Me’s mission, supply chain digitization will be very important in making even more of an impact on sustainability.
What’s the importance of tapping into tech for fashion brands – sustainability, transportation, growth, and a better grasp on stocks?
Technology gives fashion brands the power to offer an unmatched and highly customized experience to every individual customer. For us, technology played a major role in helping us become a more sustainable company, and most recently, a B Corporation.
We focus on democratizing any data we capture and making it easy for any team within our organization to have access to that data.
What e-Commerce tech trends are you keeping up with either to implement in the future or out of pure curiosity? Is there one tech idea you would like to use if budgets weren’t an issue?
The way we handle data and data science at Adore Me is often ahead of the curve. One thing we’d like to implement in the future is a serverless model where we won’t need to build as much infrastructure and instead can place more focus on the business and developer experience.
Beyond this, we’re always finding ways where we can reduce the time to market for ideas and make engineering more frictionless and predictable.