The Business of Fashion Podcast
Tackling Systemic Racism in the Fashion Industry

Tackling Systemic Racism in the Fashion Industry

August 6, 2020

Harlem Fashion Row’s Brandice Daniel, Black in Fashion Council Co-Founder Sandrine Charles and creative consultant Henrietta Gallina on actionable anti-racism steps brands must take to move the industry forward.

 

NEW YORK, United States — The anti-racism protests that erupted across the US over the last two months have brought conversations around racism in the fashion industry to the fore. In the latest #BoFLIVE event, BoF’s Lauren Sherman spoke with Harlem Fashion Row Chief Executive Brandice Daniel, Sandrine Charles Consultancy Founder Sandrine Charles as well as brand and creative consultant Henrietta Gallina about combatting systemic racism in the fashion industry.
  • In order to implement meaningful change, brands must introduce clear, public goals for which they are accountable. Vague, performative messages will no longer suffice as employees and consumers put pressure on brands to deliver actionable progress. “When we talk about the problem, I always come back to equity and that’s what I’m striving for,” said Gallina. “We are no longer asking for the industry to support us, we are asking for the power structures to be rebuilt.”
  • Companies must be holistic in their approach when tackling racism in the workplace. “It absolutely starts at the leadership level and C-suite level,” Daniel said. “Black people have set the foundation for the fashion industry but we’ve never held leadership roles.” Hiring a D&I chief, while a step in the right direction, doesn’t hold much weight if anti-racism measures aren’t implemented throughout the business, both from the bottom up and the top down.
  • “What’s really important is that everyone else acknowledges where they have a privilege in this industry,” said Charles, who is also the co-founder of the Black in Fashion Council. “Moving forward, they also have to do the work.” Charles, Daniel and Gallina all underscored the importance of introspection and then action, particularly from white and non-Black people. Committed allies are a crucial step to moving the fashion industry forward. “It’s essential that we do the work with everyone because there are various spaces that we don’t have access to,” Charles said.
 
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Fabien Baron Says, ‘The Way We Communicate Is Going to Change’

Fabien Baron Says, ‘The Way We Communicate Is Going to Change’

July 28, 2020

The celebrated art director Fabien Baron talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about the future of image-making.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom —  For famed art director Fabien Baron, the chaos and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic presents an opportunity for the fashion industry to go “back to basics.”

“When there’s doubt like this there’s not really an answer… so there’s opportunities to take more risks and be more creative,” Baron told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “It’s going to bring a lot of changes… but there’s something very optimistic about change. To be forced to change allows one to really [reflect] on the issues we are all facing.”

  • This period of uncertainty has unlocked conversations that were rippling below the surface, said Baron. Both the pandemic and the recent political unrest has highlighted an opportunity for the fashion industry at large to reshape “old formats” that feel at odds with the world’s new normal. For Baron, that means “a new way of looking things… which may lead you to a new path… it’s going to be an evolution [for the industry].”
  • According to Baron, creativity is the key to unlocking change and as the world adjusts to a new set of challenges, industries must do the same. From this health crisis a new way of approaching magazines, photography, styling and the buying and selling of merchandise will emerge where storytelling must supersede superficiality, said Baron. Brands and publications must hone an authentic voice which reflects the time and inspires “people with new ideas and new ways of looking at things. You need freshness and you need a lot of positiveness.”
  • Simplicity could be the antidote to the incessant pace at which the industry has been operating. The months of travelling it took to view runway shows or presentations, whether it was buyers or editors, hopping from “this city to that city just to see a show… After a while it [didn’t] make sense.” However, the outbreak of the coronavirus brought the fashion calendar to a standstill and designers turned towards digital tools in order to showcase their collections. This new way of using technology means “the way we communicate is going to change because the tools are changing and they’re opening new doors,” he said.They allow us to do different things and view things [from] different angles.”

Related Articles:

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Fashion’s New Outlook on 2020

Fabien Baron Is Not Nostalgic

 

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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Stephen Jones Says the Constant Quest for Perfection Often Kills Spontaneity

Stephen Jones Says the Constant Quest for Perfection Often Kills Spontaneity

July 22, 2020

Celebrated milliner Stephen Jones talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about how the pandemic has signalled an opportunity to reshape the fashion industry.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — For Stephen Jones, a prolific hatter and one of the most lauded milliners in modern memory, “hats and dressing up are a sign of optimism in spite of everything.” In his storied career, which spans four decades, he has created visual masterpieces both under his namesake brand and as the artistic director of hats at Christian Dior.

“The purpose of fashion… is maybe to give people a dream,” Jones told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “To give people the idea of more fun times, a better life… something which is solely for their pleasure,”

  • For Jones, who has created hats for high-profile clients from Princess Diana to Rihanna, forced isolation has provided an opportunity for reflection and “just being able to focus on one thing,” he told Blanks. “I’ve only ever done that in my first collection [and] that was 40 years ago. So in a funny way, I’ve been able to have the focus and the time to do something that I haven’t been able to in 40 years.”
  • “Fashion is that fabulous escapism that people yearn for,” Jones said, and when it comes crafting intricate designs, he avoids the “constant quest for perfection because perfection often kills spontaneity.”
  • As with many industry professionals across the globe, the pandemic and political unrest has signalled an opportunity for Jones to transform old practices and reshape the industry. “The one thing about fashion is it evolves,” he said. “If it doesn’t evolve it doesn’t make sense.”

 

Related Articles:

Stephen Jones and the Grammar of Hats

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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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Giles Deacon on Carving Out His Own Fashion Calendar

Giles Deacon on Carving Out His Own Fashion Calendar

July 3, 2020
The designer speaks with BoF's Imran Amed about the importance of creative autonomy in a time of 'product for more product’s sake.'
 

LONDON, United Kingdom — Designer Giles Deacon’s list of clients is impressive, including Billie Porter, Sarah Jessica Parker and the New York City ballet, while his runway shows were once counted as one of the most exciting events at London Fashion Week. But a few years ago, he decided to leave all that behind, focusing on growing his private client business instead. In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Deacon spoke with BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed about what it's been like to buck the system in a meaningful way.

  • After a few years working in the fashion industry, Deacon became disillusioned by the pace of production. “[It] was about designing more and more product for more product’s sake,” he said. So he decided to return to his art school days, focusing on craftsmanship and elaborate designs.
  • For Deacon, creative autonomy is crucial. If couture designers are to deliver spectacular garments, they need time and artistic independence. “The beauty of the bespoke is to be able to work with the client to give them that sense of service and exclusivity,” said Deacon, adding that his network of VIP customers has grown organically through word of mouth.
  • Lockdown hasn’t stopped Deacon from working over the past few months. "I have been doing sketching, consultations and FedExing patterns,” he said. “It’s gotten smaller, but things still move along.”
  • Looking to the future, Deacon said social distancing measures have prompted him to rethink his own practices. “I have become more conscious of my travelling… [Once lockdown restrictions are lifted, I may travel] less but possibly for longer.”

 

Related Articles:

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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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Rick Owens on Why Fashion Shows Aren’t Going Away

Rick Owens on Why Fashion Shows Aren’t Going Away

June 26, 2020
The American designer talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about the future of the industry, sustainability and runway shows.To subscribe to the BoF 
LONDON, United Kingdom —  “This is science’s moment...so my responsibility was to study as much as I could so when my turn to contribute came I would be ready,” Rick Owens told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of the BoF Podcast. “I’m concentrating on absorbing as much information, aesthetic information, that will serve me and nourish me in the future.”
The American designer, who has earned a cult following for his “’grungy glamorous” aesthetic, has been spending the pandemic studying the work of English architect Edward William Godwin, as well as listening to operas including “Elektra” and “Salome” by German composer Richard Strauss.
Owens shared his thoughts on why the pandemic and political unrest has accelerated the conversation around responsibility in the fashion industry.
  • “This period of resetting and enforced reflection has just recharged me,” Owens said. The designer revisited his past work and discussed how fashion is a powerful mode of communication. “When I think back on everything I’ve been doing I feel like I was able to do beautiful things but I was also able to talk about values that I believe in.” The outbreak of Covid-19 and the killing of George Floyd, which has led to protests across the globe, has brought conversations about fashion’s contributions to systemic racism to the surface.
  • Owens pointed out that the broader discussion around sustainability is forcing brands to reassess their businesses and consumers now more than ever are holding companies to account.
  • Even as lockdown measures begin to ease and designers pivot to live stream their shows, Owens underscored that runways are not obsolete. “Adorning oneself and communicating through the way you look, it’s an ancient ritual and it’s an important part of communication… [Fashion shows will] always be there in one way or another.”

 

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Ibrahim Kamara on Photography as a Powerful Force for Change

Ibrahim Kamara on Photography as a Powerful Force for Change

June 23, 2020
The renowned stylist and fashion director talks to BoF’s Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about his time creating under lockdown.
 
Quarantine hasn’t stopped stylist and art director Ibrahim Kamara from creating. Although he is unable to work on his usual fantastical fashion visuals, the time spent in his London home is nonetheless far from wasted. “I might not be able to achieve my dreams right now, but I can write them and make a note of them,” Kamara told BoF’s Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of the BoF Podcast. Born in Sierra Leone, Kamara moved to London in his early teens. He has since worked with some of fashion’s biggest names, including Stella McCartney, Fenty and Hermès as well as British VogueLove and AnOther. During lockdown, Kamara and Blanks touched base to talk about photography as a force for change. 
  • Kamara’s ethereal aesthetic pays tribute both to his West African roots and to London, the city he has lived in for the past ten years. For Kamara, the beauty of his visuals exist in this intersection of cultures. “When I’m making work, I want people to stop and take in so much,” he said. “If an image doesn’t stop you, it doesn’t really do it’s job… That’s how I make photos, I want people to look at them twice.”
  • Kamara sees technology as a source of endless inspiration. It is through Instagram he met and befriended Kristin-Lee Moolman, one of Kamara’s longtime collaborators, with whom he has worked on countless projects. “It’s so good to find people who you think can bring something to your world,” he said. Social media has also upended fashion’s longstanding hierarchies, Kamara said, adding that people can now more easily collaborate on ambitious projects without the approval and support of established magazines. 
  • Looking to the future, Kamara hopes to inspire a new generation of young image-makers to find confidence in their ways of seeing and believe in their creative visions. Only by supporting, cultivating and promoting the next generation of creative talent can the fashion industry progress: “[I want to] push the industry [forward]… and make it a space where everyone can dream.”

 

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Anna Sui Says, ‘You Can Define an Era By the Clothes’

Anna Sui Says, ‘You Can Define an Era By the Clothes’

June 16, 2020
The American designer speaks to BoF’s Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about how fashion mirrors politics.
LONDON, United Kingdom — The world has changed immeasurably since designer Anna Sui’s last fashion show took place in New York in February. Her next collection is likely to reflect this transformation. “Fashion is a mirror of the times — you can define an era by the clothes,” Sui told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks. “What people are wearing mimics the politics of the times.”
Over the last few months, the world has grappled with a pandemic, a steep economic downturn and, more recently, widespread anti-racist protests. In this week’s special edition of the BoF podcast, Sui makes predictions on how these global events might impact the future of her industry.
 
  • People have spent much of the lockdowns at home in sweats and a T-shirt. Sui believes that people might go polar opposite once social distancing restrictions are relaxed. “Suddenly [people] are going to want to be seen,” Sui said, adding that eating at restaurants and drinking at bars will once become occasions for self-expression.
  • Handicrafts may see a resurgence as “people are now taking the time to relearn those skills,” Sui said. Tie dying, crocheting and knitting might well become popular creative outlets for the many people investing time in new hobbies — and this shift could be reflected in upcoming collections.
  • Sui hopes the pace of the industry will slow down and allow space for self-reflection. Looking back to the 1990s, “[There] wasn’t this frantic need to be working all the time, I remember enjoying the holidays,” Sui said. “Let’s hope that this gets back under control and that we learn how to balance out our lifestyles again.”

Sweatsuits and Yoga Pants Are Selling Like Crazy. What Happens When Lockdowns End?
A Proposal for Rewiring the Fashion System
Why Fashion 'Seasons' Are Obsolete 

 

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Marc Jacobs Says, ‘I Still Have Stories to Tell’

Marc Jacobs Says, ‘I Still Have Stories to Tell’

May 18, 2020

As American fashion changes rapidly in real-time, Jacobs shared his thoughts on the state of an industry in flux.

  • Jacobs revisited his last fashion show at the Park Avenue Armory. “I would be very happy if that were my last show,” he said. New York’s role in global fashion is waning, and the future of live fashion shows in the coming months and years remains uncertain. “We don’t know if there will be much of a fashion industry in New York,” said Jacobs. “Will the people that have the skill still be around?”
  • Furthermore, the waste within the industry, and the flawed system of scheduling and orders has put more of an impetus on designers to slow down. “The idea of being forced to create something and tell a story constantly when it has no soul feels so vacant,” said Jacobs, pointing also to the wasted fabrics and unused products that end up in landfills. “The urge to make things and create things hasn’t gone away… I still have stories to tell,” he added. Maybe how that happens will change.
  • Digital collections and online shopping aren’t adequate substitutes. “Ordering online in a pair of grubby sweats is not my idea of living life,” said Jacobs, comparing the experience to looking at art online. “I don’t look at a Rothko online and cry.”

 

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Special Edition: Alber Elbaz Is a ‘Zoombie’ Now

Special Edition: Alber Elbaz Is a ‘Zoombie’ Now

May 12, 2020

The designer speaks to BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed about life under lockdown and the future of young designers.

 

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Special Edition: Jonathan Anderson Says, ‘If It Feels Fake, I Don’t Want It’

Special Edition: Jonathan Anderson Says, ‘If It Feels Fake, I Don’t Want It’

May 9, 2020

The creative director of JW Anderson and Loewe talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about the need for greater transparency in the fashion industry.

 

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