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

 

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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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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.”

 

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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Cathy Horyn on Why Fashion Media Must Evolve

Cathy Horyn on Why Fashion Media Must Evolve

September 3, 2020

The industry veteran and renowned Critic-at-Large at New York Magazine and The Cut discusses how the pandemic has shifted the way journalists cover fashion, signalling an editorial transformation.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — For fashion critic Cathy Horyn, the pandemic has ushered in yet another transformation of fashion media. Just like the brands and designers who pivoted and adopted new digital tools to reach buyers and consumers amid show cancellations, publications maximised their online presence to guide the industry at large through a period of upheaval.

In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Horyn sat down with BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks to discuss reviewing the upcoming shows this month (a mixture of both physical and live events) and her outlook for a post-Covid-19 fashion industry.

  • For Horyn, the media reflects and adapts to the needs of its time. “There’s been incredible [fashion] writers all the way back to the 1830s at least… and they all did something different. Journalists adapted to whatever was going on at that time,” she said. With the advent of the internet and social media, the industry saw the emergence of new voices and new talent. Amid this current period of uncertainty, Horyn remains optimistic that the industry will emerge stronger and transformed. “We’ve seen a lot of experimentation in the last… two months… I think going forward...it’s going to be an adjustment for everybody covering fashion, [but] I certainly think it should be covered.”
  • Will the show go on? This has been one of the questions on the minds of designers across the globe, but with New York Fashion Week given the go ahead (sort of) industry insiders and consumers are in for a fashion week unlike anything ever seen before: a mixture of in-person shows, livestreams, films and virtual panel discussions. What does this mean for journalists, like Horyn, that usually review the collections gracing the runway? “We don’t even know if we’re going to be covering shows like we did till possibly next fall,” she said. “My long-term feelings for the industry are really strong… [fashion] will transform itself but we just don’t know what that’s going to [look like].”
  • For Horyn and other critics, it would be remiss to ignore the allure of the physical runway show. A collection “doesn’t [always] translate so well on television or on a video screen,” Horyn said. But one thing that remains, whether via a screen or in real time, is the “sense of discovery and [realisation] that some of that stuff ... moves the historical needle of fashion and we get to see that,” she said.

 

Related Articles:

The Best-Case, Worst-Case for Fashion Media

For Fashion Magazines, It's Crunch Time

At Condé Nast and Hearst, It’s About More Than the Current Crisis

 

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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Ready to become a BoF Professional? For a limited time, enjoy 25% discount on an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.

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.

Lily Cole on Why the Fashion System Needs Reform Now

Lily Cole on Why the Fashion System Needs Reform Now

August 13, 2020

The model and activist speaks with BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed about the lessons she learnt while writing her new book Who Cares Wins.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — Lily Cole was once on the side of every bus, fronting the industry’s biggest fashion campaigns. But the more time Cole spent in the industry, the more she became aware of widespread problems and structural inequalities that prop up its glamorous facade. She cut back on modelling jobs and instead prioritised working on improving the fashion system from within.In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Lily Cole speaks with BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed about the lessons she learned while writing her new book Who Cares Wins: Reasons For Optimism in Our Changing World, published by Penguin, a call to action that emphasises the importance of optimism and collaboration in times of uncertainty.
  • The fashion industry must grapple with the role consumer culture plays in upholding social, environmental and ethical problems. “There is a practical need for new stuff that we don’t want to shut down entirely, so while we’re making it in a better way,” said Cole. “Equally, can we think of new business models that don’t require people to buy new things to make them economically sustainable?” These may include more transparent supply chains or adopting a circular business model.
  • The very way progress is measured must also be reconsidered. Economic growth must be replaced by alternative metrics like happiness, health and environmental wellbeing. “It’s about quality rather than quantity… about loving material things more,” Cole told Amed. “The more you love something the more you respect it.” For consumers, buying fewer products of higher value is less wasteful and also places more emphasis on the artisanal craftsmanship of each garment.
  • Cole is optimistic about the future generation of consumers who put more emphasis on sustainability. When the scandal broke that Boohoo paid workers less than minimum wage for example, the ultra fast fashion e-tailer’s share price plummeted. This, Cole said, indicates that the market expects consumers to stop shopping from unethical brands. “It’s a tangible reflection that people do care when they are given information,” she said.
Related Articles:

 

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For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.

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:

 

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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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:

A Year Without Fashion Shows

Who Will Win the Digital Fashion Week Battle?

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.

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

Ready to become a BoF Professional? For a limited time, enjoy 25% discount on an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.

Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Sees Stores As Vital for Digital Growth

Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Sees Stores As Vital for Digital Growth

July 16, 2020

In an exclusive conversation with BoF’s Imran Amed, Geoffroy van Raemdonck expresses optimism for the retailer’s bankruptcy process and explains why brick-and-mortar remains integral to its core business.

LONDON, United Kingdom — When facing both a nation-wide retail shutdown and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing, Neiman Marcus Group Chief Executive Geoffroy van Raemdonck found solace in one fact: his most loyal customers, even at stores that have yet to re-open to the public, are shopping more than they did last year.

“Neiman Marcus is a relationships business,” Van Raemdonck told BoF Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed in an exclusive interview this week.

Despite the global health crisis — and a dire debt problem that loomed even pre-pandemic — Van Raemdonck sees an opportunity for growth.

  • As consumers continue to migrate online, Neiman Marcus’ 43 stores remain integral to forging lasting connections between shoppers and sales associates. Prior to the coronavirus, every Neiman Marcus store that was open for more than a year was profitable. That’s why the retailer is planning on closing fewer than 10 stores, Van Raemdonck said.
  • Neiman Marcus’ primary problem is debt. In 2019, the company generated $415 million in adjusted EBITDA, which represented 9 percent of its sales. The issue is that $365 million of that profit had to go toward paying down its debt. In the bankruptcy process, Neiman Marcus has been able to convince more than 75 percent of its debtholders to exchange what they are owed for equity in the company.
  • The retailer's objective now is to maximise its existing relationships with customers and meeting them where they are. To do so, it recently unveiled a new clienteling app called Neiman Marcus Connect. The app allows sales associates to connect with their individual customers wherever and however they like to shop.

 

Related Articles:

Can Neiman Marcus Survive Bankruptcy?

Can the American Department Store Be Saved?

Why Neiman Marcus Is Getting Rid of Its Off-Price Stores

 

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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For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.

Amber Valletta Says, ‘I Don’t Want to Work in an Industry That Is the Same as Before’

Amber Valletta Says, ‘I Don’t Want to Work in an Industry That Is the Same as Before’

July 14, 2020

The supermodel, actress and environmental activist talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about why the fashion industry cannot return to ‘business as normal.’

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — “The uncertainty has forced us to get really present.... We have an amazing opportunity to restart and to begin again,” Amber Valletta told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “It is an incredible opportunity to stop and really figure out where we want to go from here. We can redesign a future.”

 

The American supermodel and actress, who has graced the cover of American Vogue 13 times and starred in various television and film series, including Revenge, Legends and Hitch, shared her thoughts on why the pandemic and political unrest has signalled the need for an equitable supply chain and an overhaul of the fashion calendar to reflect the industry’s “new normal.” 

 

  • Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, many garment workers in countries like India and Bangladesh were left destitute as textile factories shuttered and retailers in the west cancelled orders. “Before the designers make this amazing piece, [garment workers] are the people who put in the blood, sweat and tears,” Valletta said. . “In the 21st century, we should have a supply chain that’s fair and equitable.” 
  • Affecting change may not be simple but it is definitely required, Valletta said. In order to thrive in a post-pandemic climate, the fashion industry at large needs “to be resilient… which means we have to really stop doing business as normal because normal is archaic now.” For Valletta, fashion is about change and innovation: “I don’t want to work in an industry that is the same as before,” she said. 
  • “Why aren’t we slowing down the calendar?,” Valletta asked, addressing the industry’s incessant output of clothes that has accelerated over the years. “I was blessed to live in the most spectacular time in fashion… the crews were smaller, everything… There was an intimacy and excitement that we don’t have today,” she said, reflecting on her modelling career. . “There was no [social media]... and there was anticipation of the next season… Everything coming at you was a discovery.”

 

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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