The Business of Fashion Podcast
Tory Burch on Finding Purpose in Female Empowerment

Tory Burch on Finding Purpose in Female Empowerment

November 26, 2020

The American designer discusses the power of many businesses to be advocates for change.

 

The last few years have offered Tory Burch, founder of her namesake womenswear label, time to focus less on business and more on design, particularly since her husband Pierre-Yves Roussel took on the role of chief executive in 2018. Now, the pandemic is giving her even more time to focus on perfecting product, a rare silver lining of an otherwise challenging situation.
 
In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks speaks with Burch about her activist-focused approach to business and how the last 10 months have shaped her fashion label.
 
  • Restriction is a crucial component of creativity. To Burch, the travel restrictions and social distancing measures have opened new avenues of creativity, fostering agility and resourcefulness. “One thing that’s happened because of lockdown is it makes you stand still,” said Burch. “To be able to be in one place has been really transformative on many levels.”
  • Burch emphasises that what constitutes luxury needs to be reconsidered. “I really believe luxury isn’t about a price point, and I think that’s relatable particularly today,” she said. “How do you design beautiful things that are timeless and that will last? That’s what I’ve been thinking about,” she said, adding that having time to spend is the ultimate luxury.
  • Through the Tory Burch Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing women’s empowerment, Burch is finding new avenues through which to support women and help them weather the coronavirus crisis. “Its horrendous for women right now,” said Burch. “They are taking care of children at a much higher rate than men. We have had to help many women figure out how to take out PPP loans… We had to pivot to really be a resource for women.”

 

Related Articles:
Tory Burch Names Pierre-Yves Roussel CEO
Independent Women Brought Hope to Fashion’s Virtual Spring
Visual Metaphors at Tory Burch

 
 
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Tremaine Emory on Mixing Politics and Fashion

Tremaine Emory on Mixing Politics and Fashion

November 12, 2020
Imran Amed talks to the designer, also known as Denim Tears, about the US election and putting conditions on his collaboration with Converse.
 
This is just the beginning for designer Tremaine Emory. Following the US election, the designer, who is also known as Denim Tears, spoke to BoF’s Imran Amed about negotiating with big brands, leading with purpose and the work still ahead. “It’s been an incredible week and there’s a lot more work to do,” said Emory. “I hope this is the start.”
 
  • For Emory, principles come first when it comes to working with big brands, especially if they are using corporate activism in their marketing. The designer notably withheld the release of a collaboration with Converse earlier this year, posting a set of conditions for parent company Nike on Instagram that ranged from disclosing the number of Black employees in leadership roles to stopping all support for the Republican party. “I can’t put these sneakers out if all the company is doing is donating money,” said Emory. “I need to know specifically what they’re doing to combat police brutality in Black neighbourhoods… Who are we protecting with this money?” In negotiations with brands, Emory delineated the tango that comes with corporate partnerships: “Their number one thing is making money... how can I dance their bottom line with my bottom line?”
  • Reflecting on the results of the election, Emory emphasised the importance of registering young voters and getting them excited about the upcoming senate elections, particularly in his home state of Georgia. “We’re going to work to get people to vote and get Democrats in those seats,” he said.
  • Emory also hopes to introduce young consumers to new ideas and ways of thinking about American history and civil rights. “That’s probably my favourite part of my practice is being a bridge of knowledge between generations,” he said. “How can I condense... a James Baldwin book [or] a Black Panther book into a T-shirt?”
 
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Gareth Pugh on Returning to Fashion in Extraordinary Times

Gareth Pugh on Returning to Fashion in Extraordinary Times

November 3, 2020
The British designer tells Tim Blanks about his latest creative endeavour, a documentary about creating his first collection in two years.
 
LONDON, United Kingdom — Acclaimed designer Gareth Pugh showed his last collection in September 2018. Two years on, he has returned to the industry at a time of global tumult. Its effects are clearly reflected in “The Reconstruction,” a documentary made by Pugh, his husband Carson McColl and Showstudio director Nick Knight showcasing 13 new designs and the inspiration behind them.
 
“This project really has been born out of some insane historical moments,” said Pugh. “2020’s been a shitty year and so much has gone on,” he continued, and he would be remiss “not to look it in the face and acknowledge its presence.”
 
  • No stranger to the medium, Pugh has previously released films of his designs in lieu of a fashion show, and in 2019 made a documentary with McColl about the fight for LGBTQ+ rights across the UK. In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Pugh discussed what the current state of the industry means for young designers, and how he considers film to be a medium loaded with potential depth. The “new normal” can also mean opportunities. “The playing field is now level; you don’t have that established way of having to do things. like young designers being forced into this idea that ’we have to spend a load of money doing a show,’” said Pugh. “You never had to do that anyway, but now more than ever you really don’t.”
  • For many designers, film has been the go-to medium in the absence of in-person fashion shows, but it presents its own challenges. “Once you have that physical exchange taken away, you have that hole, that vacuum that you need to fill,” said Pugh. That said, alternative art forms allow for a more profound exploration of themes. “In a [fashion] show context it’s very difficult to dig down deep… simply because you’ve got this tennis match-esque way of presenting things,” he added.
  • “The Reconstruction” is a meditation on permanence, longevity and wider political significance as it pertains to creativity — from the “monumental” looks showcased in the film, to an entire section documenting the Black Lives Matter movement and activism of trans women of colour. “Wanting to build something really febrile and really temporal doesn’t sit with me,” said Pugh, admitting that he “never did very well with playing that commercial game” as a designer. “Fashion for me is part of the wider cultural conversation and does link to so many things we are part of… [It] doesn’t exist within a vacuum.”

 

Related Articles:
Gareth Pugh's Fashion Battlefield
Gareth Pugh's Macabre Movie
A Life in Extreme Style: Michèle Lamy

 

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Dries Van Noten on Opening a Store During a Pandemic

Dries Van Noten on Opening a Store During a Pandemic

October 29, 2020
BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks speaks with the Belgian designer about his new community-centred art hub and why the clothing store could do with a makeover.
 
LONDON, United Kingdom — It’s been just over two weeks since Dries Van Noten opened his latest store in downtown Los Angeles — a 8,500-square-foot, multi-storey building intended as a hub for art, fashion, music and community. In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, the Belgian designer speaks with BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about the inspiration behind his new brick-and-mortar venture and his plans for future fashion weeks.
  • It may seem counterintuitive to debut a new store during a pandemic, when shops are open one day and forced to close the next, but Van Noten’s latest venture is an attempt to reimagine what brick and mortar can be. “Stores become very static. I wanted to have more of a youth club, where people can just come in… and do things,” he said. He recently had four local artists come in and repaint the walls in an homage to street art.
  • One of the rooms in Van Noten’s store serves as an archive of unsold garments from the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. It was inspired by the idea to slow down the fashion industry. “We have a room for men and a room for women where you have a selection of pieces from old collections.”
  • When looking to the future, Van Noten reflects on the possibility of combining fashion shows with alternative ways to present collections — like fashion films or lookbooks. “By the time we go back to fashion shows, perhaps the fashion shows will be changed,” Van Noten said. “It felt not right to see — in the times we are in — a fashion show.”

 

Related Articles:
At Dries Van Noten, New Ways of Seeing
Dries Van Noten Proposes Reset to Fashion’s Deliveries and Discounting Calendar
What Happened to Rethinking the Fashion System?

 

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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.”
 
Related Articles:

 

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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

 

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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.”
 
 

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The Fate of the Physical Runway Show

The Fate of the Physical Runway Show

September 10, 2020

BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks, The Washington Post’s fashion critic Robin Givhan and GQ’s Rachel Tashjian explore the past, present and the future of the event that makes the industry go round — the fashion show.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — Do fashion shows still matter? In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks, The Washington Post’s fashion critic Robin Givhan and GQ Magazine writer Rachel Tashjian join BoF Executive Editor Lauren Sherman in a virtual panel discussion on how the pandemic tested designers’ ability to captivate buyers, media and consumers through creativity and the use of digital tool. What happens next?
  • For Blanks, in order to look forward, you must look back. Fashion shows have always “[meant] almost everything in fashion to an enormous degree… They challenge, they provoke, they’re disturbing, they’re overwhelming,” he said. However, over the years, people have looked at the shows of the past as “a world that’s gone in a way… it has that kind of poignant tug.”
  • As industry commentators, Blanks, Givhan and Tashjian have taken note of how designers pivoted their strategies following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and what set them apart. For Givhan, JW Anderson’s “show in a box” tapped into “the desire for something tactile, the desire for something that felt personal… that you could hold, that wasn’t a digital... distant thing.” Although livestreams have a way of broadening a brand’s reach, as a critic, Givhan finds being “forced to look in one particular direction” hinders the experience. “Sometimes I find the most interesting element to be something that’s over in a corner, but that’s not the main thing that’s walking down the runway towards me,” she said.
  • In the future, Givhan hopes designers will use technology to “tell a story about their clothing, to weave a narrative in some way… to evoke emotion,” instead of carbon-copying a traditional runway in a digital way. “It [just] feels… like something that… doesn’t really quite fit,” she said. For Blanks, what has come out of this period of uncertainty — and the modes of communication adopted — shouldn’t be forgotten. “I hope that there will be this immediate contact, this sort of intimacy,” he said. “I find that more interesting than maybe the way that we used to deal with things. I don’t want a press release, I want to talk to people.”

 

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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

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Jerry Lorenzo Says, ‘I Know What I’m Fighting For’

Jerry Lorenzo Says, ‘I Know What I’m Fighting For’

August 18, 2020

The Fear of God designer talks American luxury and why feeling like an outsider is a strength.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — For Fear of God Founder Jerry Lorenzo, being an outsider is an advantage. “I just feel like I never fit,” he told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “I’ve gotten to a place where I’m ok with that and I don’t need to fit within fashion to be validated… and so I know that I’m outside but I feel like my strength is that I’m outside. My strength is that I see [things] differently.”

Lorenzo has often taken a less-beaten path, but it’s his approach to collection drops — his latest is the first he has released in two years — as well an ability to use fashion as a platform to foster social change, that have helped to position him as an industry leader. An outsider no longer?

  • "The Pelican Brief," "The Breakfast Club," "License to Drive" and "Rocky IV" are just some of ‘80s movies Lorenzo often references. “There’s something about that time period that to me was the highest level of effortlessness and sophistication,” he said. That spirit is alive in his seventh collection, which offers an “unfiltered vision of tailoring and suiting” for the first time, as well as accessories and handknits. “It’s a move from an emerging brand to a foundational brand,” Lorenzo said. “What we’re doing with [this] collection is purely our point of view.”
  • Using his platform, Lorenzo looks to inspire young people to pursue their passions relentlessly in whatever field. “I know what I’m fighting for and I’m clear on that,” he said. “Some kids just don’t have the example of someone that looks like them… and without that visual example, sometimes it feels impossible… fashion just happens to be the platform that I’m using to do that.”
  • Fear of God might be rooted in streetwear, but Lorenzo explained why it’s more than that. “Some people just chalk it up to be a hoodie and that’s okay but we understand that we’re providing the solution for the lifestyle that today is the modern man,” he said. “We’re putting out clothes when we feel like… we have something to say… [and] that we have solutions for what’s missing in the marketplace. We don’t feel like we’re operating from a place of a capitalistic spirit, we feel we’re proposing what’s needed.”

 

Related Articles:

The Decade When Streetwear Rewrote the Rules of Luxury

What the Merger of Suiting and Streetwear Says About the Men’s Market

Streetwear Took Over the Fashion Industry. Now What?

 

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