The Business of Fashion Podcast
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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Stella Jean Asks ‘Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?’

Stella Jean Asks ‘Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?’

August 27, 2020

The Italian-Haitian designer and the only Black member of Italy’s Camera della Moda speaks to BoF Editor-in-Chief about racism within the country’s fashion industry.

LONDON, United Kingdom —  For designer Stella Jean, enough is enough. “It’s time to turn the page” and demand fashion reform, she said. Last month, alongside Milan-based designer Edward Buchanan, Jean issued letters to Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera della Moda, and to the organisation’s 14 executive members in what Jean described as “an historical appeal to bring to the forefront for the first time in our history, the paradoxical taboo topic of racism in Italy… and also to support Black designers who are still invisible in the business of Italian fashion.”
In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Jean sat down with BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed to share her personal history growing up the daughter of a Haitian mother and Italian father, discuss the systemic racism within Italy’s fashion sector and focus on fostering change.
  • The self-taught designer, whose clothes have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Zendaya, called out fashion giants for making “performative gestures of public support” regarding racism in America, while simultaneously “overlooking what is happening to the Black minority in their own country among its workforce.” During the virtual call with Amed, Jean shared that she had received a letter from Capasa regarding the creation of a new unit in the Italian fashion council to tackle racism within the sector. Jean hopes that this will transform her question “do Black lives matter in Italian fashion?’” into the statement “Black lives matter in Italian fashion.”
  • In order to effect change, fashion leaders and executives must have an open discussion about what more can be done to boost diversity within their organisations, Jean said. While brands rushed to post black squares on social media, Jean urged leaders to first address the lack of diversity within their corporate structures. “[Brands] have long preached multiculturalism but have rarely applied such concepts beyond the media window… [and] in the spaces away from the spotlight where no one is watching,” she said. “[This is a] wound that we have ignored for far too long… If you don’t understand that awareness is the first step in solving the problem, this wound will never heal.”
  • For Jean, who founded the sustainable development initiative Laboratorio delle Nazioni, growing up in the 1980s “and struggling [with] being so diverse from [her] fellow citizens has motivated [her] to find a way to show people not to be afraid of different cultures and colours, but instead to see them… as a chance to grow better and together.” Jean recognises fashion as a tool that can offer fair and equitable opportunities for people in low-income countries. When Jean creates a collection she meets and works with various artisans in countries like Peru, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Mali or Pakistan for example, researching and learning about the local indigenous skills to then create a textile or garment, combining the country’s traditional craftsmanship with Italian design. “The beauty of fashion is it has no borders,” Jean said.

Related Articles:
Op-Ed | Fashion Is Part of the Race Problem
Op-Ed | Inclusivity Demands More Than a Show
Fashion's New Stella

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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Rebuilding Lebanon’s Fashion Industry

Rebuilding Lebanon’s Fashion Industry

August 20, 2020

Elie Saab Jr, chief executive of Elie Saab Group, and Lebanese designers Roni Helou and Amine Jreissati speak about the urgent need for global solidarity in the face of crisis.

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.
 
Related Articles:

 

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Farfetch’s José Neves Says Profitability Is Still Possible in 2021

Farfetch’s José Neves Says Profitability Is Still Possible in 2021

July 9, 2020

LONDON, United Kingdom —For Farfetch Founder and Chief Executive José Neves, the last six months have not only been about protecting his own business from the fallout of Covid-19, but also supporting the hundreds of boutiques around the world — from China, Japan and Korea to the Middle East and Europe — that sell their goods online through the luxury marketplace.

“We've been able to support the boutiques and the brands on the platform at crucial time where online is, for many, the main channel and for some... the only channel,” Neves told BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast.

But as Neves explained, more challenges lie ahead for Farfetch and the global fashion industry at large.

  • Neves described the platform’s performance as “very solid,” and expects to see an acceleration in its second quarter, with year over year growth of 25-30%. Part of this success can be attributed to the business shifting its focus to markets where consumer sentiment has started to recover, according to Neves.
  • But Farfetch is still losing money, and investors and market analysts have questioned the company's recent acquisition of New Guards Group (NGG). The acquisition may have bolstered profitability, but it took the business in an unexpected direction: actually owning the brands it sells on its platform. But Neves said he remains “confident” that Farfetch will achieve profitability by 2021 — a goal it outlined last year, and that the NGG business is a brand platform in its own right.
  • The luxury industry has been bracing for what has been called “the mother of all sales,” as retailers are forced to drastically discount their surplus of spring merchandise. Some observers have pointed to Farfetch as a regular culprit with respect to the industry's discounting addiction even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Neves says the discounting decisions are made by the brands and the retailers themselves, and that Farfetch is simply the platform they use to go to the market, but acknowledges that deep discounting is a systemic industry problem.
  • Neves believes the fashion industry will finally reckon with its wasteful and unsustainable business practices — and partially because it can also reduce costs. “I do think the industry had an oversupply problem, which is an environmental problem as well," he said. “Platforms have a responsibility to… incentivise customers to shop consciously. By doing that you create an incentive for brands to be more conscious or to be totally ethical and sustainable if they can.”

 

Related Articles:

A Cloudy Picture at Farfetch

Farfetch Signals Growing Ambitions in Resale

Why Farfetch's Free-Spending Ways Have Some Investors Concerned

 

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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Graydon Carter Says, ‘There Is More Good Journalism Being Produced Now Than There Was 25 Years Ago’

Graydon Carter Says, ‘There Is More Good Journalism Being Produced Now Than There Was 25 Years Ago’

June 12, 2020
LONDON, United Kingdom —  “Magazines bring the world to you more than newspapers do and more than books do,” Graydon Carter, former editor of Vanity Fairand creator of email newsletter Air Mail, told BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed in the latest episode of the BoF Podcast. “They bring the cultural nuances of what’s going on now to your door. They [tell] you about a world outside of the small town that you’re living in.”Carter’s journalism career spans over four decades, during which he was a staff writer at Time and Life, co-founded Spy magazine in 1986 and served as the editor of The New York Observer. His “third act,” the digital weekly newsletter Air Mail, employs a team of remotely working individuals from across the globe.Carter shared his thoughts on the state of the publishing industry in this time of upheaval.
 
 
  • An upended global economy is not uncharted territory for magazines. During the Great Recession, publications were hit hard as brands cut their advertising budgets to retain cash, Carter said. More than a decade later, magazines are faced with these same challenges, and for Carter, although there remains “a certain romance for magazines” the print industry “is going to have its issues and I think the strong magazines will survive and thrive and the weak ones will go away. That is a natural process in any industry.” The winners that emerge from this crisis will be the publications that form a connection with their readers. “You have to be the first or second favourite magazine of your reader… if you’re the fifth favourite magazine of a reader, they could probably do without you,” he said.
  • During his time running Vanity Fair, Carter spearheaded several newsmaking issues, including the 2015 “Call Me Caitlyn” cover, revealing Caitlyn Jenner for the first time as a woman and the “Africa Issue” that was designed to amplify the region and came with 20 special covers fronted by the likes of Muhammad Ali, Dr Maya Angelou and Barack Obama. However, his leadership was not without controversy. In a recent Netflix documentary, “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” allegations resurfaced that Carter removed information about the sexual abuse of Annie and Maria Farmer from an article about the disgraced billionaire written by Vicky Ward in 2003. In response to the claims, Carter said: “The legal and fact-checking elements of Vanity Fair, which was quite extensive,... is your line of defence and my head of fact-checking, my legal review editor and the lawyer for the company said we simply do not have what we needed to print this and it came in late,” he said. “In this case, they said we did not have the information we needed to publish that little bit of information in the story... I feel great pain and sorrow for the women he took advantage of, it’s an appalling situation.”
  • As the publishing industry pivots to adapt to a new normal, relying on digital tools like Zoom, cutting back the number of issues and reassessing the diversity of their organisations, Carter believes there are opportunities to be capitalised on. “I think there is more good journalism being produced now than there was 25 years ago… The fact is, now… you can start your own thing, you can do it on your kitchen table.” In a sea of start-ups it can be difficult to stand out, but “it’s just about being good at doing something that somebody else doesn’t do… You can make a name doing anything as long as it’s done well.”

 

Related Articles: 
Graydon Carter to Step Down as Vanity Fair Editor After 25 Years
Fashion Magazines Hit as Luxury Ad Spend Dwindles
For Fashion Magazines, It's Crunch Time

 

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Scott Galloway on Breaking Up Big Luxury | Inside Fashion

Scott Galloway on Breaking Up Big Luxury | Inside Fashion

May 29, 2020

The bestselling author and business professor offers his insight into the challenging market and M&A landscape that industry players of all sizes have to navigate.

Scott Galloway is no stranger to expressing views as provocative as they are incisive. The author, business school professor and serial entrepreneur has a lot to say about the state of the market in the era of Covid-19, but his observations and predictions are also, crucially, grounded in wider social, political and economic arguments — whether that’s the now-untenable position of American exceptionalism, the burden of student debt or the failings of intergenerational wealth distribution. Speaking in conversation with Imran Amed, Galloway shares his thoughts on the state of the luxury sector, importance of e-commerce and the indomitable power of Amazon, a company he describes as “firing on all 12,000 cylinders” yet still can’t crack the fashion market. Here are some of the key takeaways:
 
  • “The class of IPOs that will come to the markets in the next 3-6 months will boom,” said Galloway. “I think the markets are going to accelerate but people conflate the markets with the economic health of america. The markets are nothing more than an indication of how the top decile of Europe and America are doing.” 
  • Amazon’s tricky relationship with fashion and luxury is hard to reconcile. “Amazon partners with an industry the way a virus partners with a host,” he said, which explains why luxury brands have traditionally kept the e-commerce giant at arm’s length. Even with the remarkable acceleration of e-commerce in the past eight weeks, however, Amazon’s algorithmically driven retail model does not allow for the forward-looking trend cycle on which the fashion industry operates.
  • Luxury is a relatively well-positioned industry. “The majority of sectors in the world would pray for luxury’s problems right now,” he said, but much like big tech companies, conglomerates in the luxury space create “an unhealthy environment where too few players are allowed to [accrue] too much power... if you wanted to oxygenate the economy around luxury you would go ahead and break them up.”
 
 
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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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Millard Drexler on Why ‘Growth Is the Enemy

Millard Drexler on Why ‘Growth Is the Enemy

May 15, 2020
The New York-based “merchant prince,” best known for his time at J. Crew and Gap, is now watching the American retail landscape crumble as brands and retailers struggle under store shutdowns and debt restructuring. He did offer some advice, and warnings, on the state of American shopping, and what it might look like after the pandemic.
  • “If you’re not a micromanager, you’re not doing your job well,” said Drexler. With too much assortment, and too much retail space, brands need to determine what’s necessary and get creative with their offerings. This same practice should also be applied to wholesale accounts. “Own the brand, don’t let someone else put it on sale, and you’re safe,” he said.
  • Rethink what growth means for your brand. “Growth is the enemy,” said Drexler, looking to the rise of VC-backed brands that have struggled to successfully scale and break even. Now is not the time to pursue top-line growth at the cost of profit margins. “That’s what investors want, and they’ll do dumb things to get there,” said Drexler. “More is not better, the new big is small in my mind.”
  • The American department store’s make or break. “It’s pretty much near the end,” said Drexler. There’s no reason for them, he argued, unless the assortment and store curation are unique and compelling: “I’m not impressed [and] I haven't been for years with the choices out there.”

 

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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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