The Business of Fashion Podcast
Paul Smith on the Past 50 Years

Paul Smith on the Past 50 Years

October 22, 2020
The designer speaks with BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about how the current moment is shaping the future of creativity.
 
LONDON, United Kingdom — It’s been 50 years since Paul Smith opened his first shop in Nottingham. Now, he has 200 shops worldwide. In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, the celebrated designer speaks with BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about the last five decades, his latest book and how the current moment is prompting a return to craft.
  • Reflecting on the past 50 years, Smith emphasises the importance of making the most of any luck or opportunity by working at it. “For a lot of people opportunities come their way but they don’t embrace them,” he said.
  • To celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary, Smith has released a book. In it, he tells the story of the last 50 years through 50 objects. “Instead of it just being a coffee table book with pictures of clothes in it, [I wanted it to] be a little bit lateral,” said Smith. “I very quickly chose 50 things — and I say ‘very quickly’ because I wanted it to be spontaneous.” Each object signifies a particular time or a memory that has shaped Smith's life and brought him to where he is today.
  • Despite the challenges 2020 has presented, the designer says he is excited about the industry’s return to craft. “What’s been inspiring for me is the construction,” said Smith. “Instead of the inspiration coming from a Matisse or a Basquiat, going back to how we make things has been really wonderful.”
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Imran Amed and Tim Blanks on a Most Unusual Fashion Month

Imran Amed and Tim Blanks on a Most Unusual Fashion Month

October 15, 2020

Amed and Blanks reflect on this season’s collections, the shift to digital and the limitless potential power of creative collaboration.

 

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — This last fashion month has been unlike any other. After much of the year working under lockdowns, brands largely shifted to digital channels to showcase their newest collections. In the latest episode of the BoF podcast, BoF Founder and CEO Imran Amed and BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks reflect on the season's most compelling moments and lasting impact.

  • Virtual presentations haven’t always landed, but this season felt different, said Blanks. “There was so much thought and creativity and ingenuity applied to new ways of doing business and new ways [of showing work]... It was a very different ball game.”
  • In London, Blanks was struck by female designers like Bianca Saunders, Ahluwalia and Supriya Lele who “did these super strong presentations that were provocative and affirmative and positive,” he said. Overall, London Fashion Week was defined by a joyful defiance during a time of crisis. In Milan and Paris, Blanks and Amed referenced Prada and Rick Owens as two of many shows that stood out to them.
  • This season also made clear the power of strong partnerships. Through creative collaborations between designers and filmmakers, brands have managed to bring their collections to life to audiences the world over. “It changes the fundamental conception of fashion being about the designer, now we have a much more collaborative thing happening,” said Blanks. “That’s a shift, I think.”

Related Articles:

How Impactful Were the Digital Fashion Week Shows, Really?

Who Will Win the Digital Fashion Week Battle?

How to Make Digital Fashion Weeks Work

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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Kenneth Cole on Why Mental Health is the Other Big Pandemic

Kenneth Cole on Why Mental Health is the Other Big Pandemic

October 8, 2020

The American designer talks about his efforts to destigmatize mental health issues and the importance of improving emotional wellbeing in the fashion industry. 

LONDON, United Kingdom — “[There] needs to be a cultural shift… a new narrative, a new vocabulary, a new way to talk about mental health that [isn’t] debilitating, but is in fact empowering,” designer and social activist Kenneth Cole told BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed. 

Cole recently brought together leading US mental health organisations and high-profile advocates and media platforms to launch the Mental Health Coalition, an organisation that seeks to destigmatize the topic. In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, he discussed how the issue pervades the fashion industry and efforts to address it. 

 

  • “The fashion industry is a perception industry, and how we are perceived often is how we see ourselves,” Cole said, warning of the dangers to mental health when designers become preoccupied with reviews, likes on a post or comments from editors. “We define ourselves so often by these external forces that we can’t control and to a degree if you allow them to take hold then you become a victim of that. I often say, ‘fashion is what I do, it's not who I am.’”
  • The pressures on designers have become even more intense with the rise of social media. That’s more true than ever in an era where the pandemic has at times made digital the only available avenue of communication. Constantly being exposed to the feedback and opinions of others can feel debilitating Cole said.  “Unfortunately our industry embraces it and rewards it… and the more likes you have and the bigger audience you have, the more access you will often have.” 
  • What’s next is changing the way people speak about mental health so it there’s less stigma attached to it. The best way to do that “be supportive and non-judgemental and listen,” Cole said. “We all have different degrees and we have ups and we have downs. And we have periods where we’re feeling more in control than other [times]... [but] having a conversation is a big first step.” 

 

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Inside Fashion’s Enduring Mental Health Epidemic

Stressed and Depressed: A Mental Health Guide for Fashion Students

Op-Ed | The Perils of Fashion's 'Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It' Culture

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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Will Covid-19 Kill Experiential Retail? Not So Fast | Retail Reborn Episode 4

Will Covid-19 Kill Experiential Retail? Not So Fast | Retail Reborn Episode 4

October 6, 2020

"Will a newly minted generation of germaphobic, socially distanced consumers put the kybosh on touchy-feely retail?” In episode 4 of BoF’s Retail Reborn podcast series, Doug Stephens examines how the concept of reimagining the store as media can be applied even during a pandemic, with guests including Neighborhood Goods’ Matt Alexander, Story founder Rachel Shechtman and Ben Kaufman, CEO and co-founder of CAMP.

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Daniel Roseberry on the Schiaparelli Challenge

Daniel Roseberry on the Schiaparelli Challenge

October 1, 2020

The artistic director tells Tim Blanks about reigniting the surrealist maison, and why fashion doesn’t have to be ‘relevant’ right now.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — Daniel Roseberry grew up in Texas, far from his current professional home at Elsa Schiaparelli’s Place Vendôme headquarters, but he always knew he wanted to work in fashion. “It was always something that I was interested in that no one else around me knew anything about,” he told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “It was this idea of fantasy.” Appointed as Schiaparelli’s artistic director last year, Roseberry lifts the lid on his journey as a designer and his approach to honouring, but not replicating, the vision of the maison’s founder.
  • Before Schiaparelli, Roseberry, spent more than 10 years at ready-to-wear label Thom Browne “There’s nowhere else I could have worked in New York that could have prepared me for the kind of hours that go into a garment… It was my only job before Schiaparelli in fashion and so that was my first foray into this kind of approach.” Despite having over a decade worth of experience, nothing could have prepared him for the challenges of being that “person that has to step out at the end of the show and wave.” Roseberry often wondered when his time would come and the journey has been a learning process. “I thought I knew what it was like to maintain a vision throughout the entire creative process… when there’s so many moving parts… that is the challenge… and it’s something that I’m getting better at.”
  • When it comes to adding his stamp and reinventing the maison, Roseberry tries to “honour... and embody [Elsa Schiaparelli’s] ethos.” The maison shuttered in 1954 and only reopened six years ago. Roseberry is the third artistic director to take its helm. “Trying to replicate what [Schiaparelli] did, which also seemed to be so effortless and such a product of the time and place in which she lived, would be a very arrogant disaster,” he said.
  • Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the industry all but came to a halt and brands had to find ways to pivot to keep their heads above water. For Roseberry “fashion shows don’t have to be relevant right now. There’s so many other things that are more important and I wish that fashion people could allow themselves to sit with that discomfort.” When asked about the future of fashion, Roseberry, like many during this crisis, is unsure but believes that is ok. “Fashion is so obsessed with predicting itself and I think it’s because deep down we know how… not essential we are [right now]… and I think there is an insecurity there.”
 
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The Future of Digital Commerce | Retail Reborn Episode 3

The Future of Digital Commerce | Retail Reborn Episode 3

September 29, 2020

Doug Stephens speaks with innovators about the technologies and business models driving a new era of online retail — with guests Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein, Christina Fontana, head of Tmall’s fashion and luxury division in Europe, Chen Xiaodong, chief executive of Intime and Neha Singh, founder of Obsess.

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Lulu Kennedy on London’s Young Creatives

Lulu Kennedy on London’s Young Creatives

September 24, 2020

BoF’s Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks speaks with the Fashion East Founder about the future of London’s emerging designers.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — For twenty years, London's Fashion East has helped incubate and support emerging designers hoping to establish themselves as the industry’s next big thing. The imperative to nurture emerging talent is even more urgent now, as young designers enter an increasingly uncertain industry. In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks speaks with Fashion East Founder Lulu Kennedy about what the future of fashion might look like for emerging creatives and independent designers.

  • One major change in the last twenty years is the decline in funding available to stage grandiose fashion shows. “Sponsorship was very good [20 years ago],” Kennedy said. “It’s not as easy now; you have to work harder with the budgets you have.” While strict financial limitations can help foster creativity, it also adds pressure on young designers hoping to compete with more established players.
  • When asked why London remains a central hub of exciting new design talent, Kennedy points to its stellar colleges and powerful and pervasive youth culture. But London-based designers also face specific challenges. “There is a lot of frustration with designers trying to get stuff made on time, in budget and that’s good quality,” Kennedy said. “Going forward with Fashion East, I would love to secure some manufacturing partnership.”
  • Lookbooks and short films have become crucial for designers during the pandemic, when real-life shows are restricted. But standing out amid the social media noise is no easy feat. In fact, the best advice Kennedy has to offer is authenticity: “Be true to yourself. Don’t be second guessing and looking at what other people are doing over your shoulder. Just do you.”

 

Related Articles:

In London, Emerging Designers Face a Critical Season

Where Do Independent Fashion Brands Go From Here?

How to Break Into Fashion When You Don’t Already Have Money

 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

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Building Smarter, More Sustainable Supply Chains | Retail Reborn Episode 2

Building Smarter, More Sustainable Supply Chains | Retail Reborn Episode 2

September 22, 2020

In Episode 2 of BoF’s new podcast series, Doug Stephens investigates how supply chains must evolve to meet the novel challenges faced by both the fashion industry and the planet — with guests John Thorbeck, chairman of Chainge Capital, Nina Marenzi, founder of The Sustainable Angle and Dio Kurazawa, co-founder of The Bear Scouts.

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Craig Green Says, ‘Fashion Can Come From Anywhere’

Craig Green Says, ‘Fashion Can Come From Anywhere’

September 17, 2020
The designer speaks with BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about his ongoing Moncler collaboration and his dream of designing a wardrobe classic.
 
LONDON, United Kingdom — Known for his intricate seaming and detailed designs, Craig Green is currently hard at work on his Spring/Summer 2021 collection — which he is aiming to reveal in October. This time, however, it won’t be in a fashion show format. Rather, Green is exploring alternative ways of showcasing his collection that he feels are more appropriate to the times. “The way everything changed so suddenly shows you can’t really plan for anything,” Green told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks. In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Green and Blanks reflect on the designer’s ongoing collaboration with Moncler, his love of problem-solving, and his dream of designing a wardrobe classic.
  • Protection and functionality are the two words that come to Green’s mind when he thinks of Moncler, so it was crucial to incorporate them into the collections he continues to design for the heritage skiwear label. “The first collection we did with Moncler, I thought it would be interesting to think about the most obvious imagery that we associate with [the brand] like mountains and the outdoors,” the designer said. The initial partnership gave birth to many years of collaboration that most recently saw Green reimagining Moncler’s staple winter jackets into wearable art for Collection 5, which launched last December.
  • “Fashion can come from anywhere and can come from anyone,” said Green. “You have an idea of what fashion as a career will be, and then you discover designers who are so uncompromising in what they do and so individual in their voice.” For Green, it is problem-solving that continues to draw him to fashion; the endless possibilities of constructing new shapes and silhouettes using a range of textiles and patterns.
  • Green’s ultimate goal is to design a wardrobe classic, like a Burberry trench coat. But for Green, the staple is more likely to be a workwear jacket. “For a brand or designer to create one of those items is really an achievement,” said Green. “I have great respect for designers that own wardrobe classics.”
 
 

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

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How Trauma Transforms Consumer Psyche | Retail Reborn Episode 1

How Trauma Transforms Consumer Psyche | Retail Reborn Episode 1

September 15, 2020

In Episode 1 of The Business of Fashion’s new podcast series, presented by Brookfield Properties, Doug Stephens and social psychologist Sheldon Solomon PhD. examine the impact of collective trauma on consumer behaviour, as Covid-19 sees consumers grapple with mortality. 

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