The Business of Fashion Podcast

By The Business of Fashion

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The Business of Fashion has gained a global following as an essential daily resource for fashion creatives, executives and entrepreneurs in over 200 countries. It is frequently described as “indispensable,” “required reading” and “an addiction.”

Episode Date
Maria Raga on why community is central to Depop’s success
36:03

The CEO of the online peer-to-peer marketplace believes the platform’s ability to connect people sets it apart from typical fashion e-commerce. 

In June 2021, online marketplace Etsy announced plans to acquire Depop for $1.6 billion. The move was yet another sign of growing interest in the burgeoning fashion resale market, which according to BoF Insights, is now worth $130 billion globally.

CEO Maria Raga describes Depop as “combining elements from Instagram and eBay”. The platform is skewed towards lower-priced product exchange between younger traders, almost all of them 26 and under. Raga believes that it’s Depop’s community aspect — facilitating not just online transactions, but also person to person interactions — that attracts these all-important Gen-Z shoppers. 

Raga’s insights are featured in the fifth episode of The BoF Show, now streaming on Bloomberg Quicktake. 

Watch the fifth episode of The BoF Show here.

Nov 26, 2021
The Dematerialised on the Rise of Virtual Fashion
31:41

Marjorie Hernandez and Karinna Nobbs are the co-founders of The Dematerialised — a Web 3.0 marketplace for authenticated virtual goods, which they describe as “the digital department store of your dreams.”

They’re part of a new wave of pioneering entrepreneurs challenging the luxury status quo and creating a new reality for fashion. 

In the fourth episode of The BoF Show, now streaming on Bloomberg Quicktake, they share their thoughts on gaming culture and the metaverse — and explain why they believe virtual fashion will revolutionise the industry as we know it. 

Here, we share the full interview, exclusively on The BoF Podcast.

Watch the fourth episode of The BoF Show, “Dematerialisation: Why the Metaverse Is Fashion’s Next Goldmine”

Explore the new report from BoF Insights, “The Opportunities in Digital Fashion and Avatars” here.

Nov 19, 2021
Ian Rogers: “Five years from now, we will have closets where we share our digital collections”
46:17

Ledger’s Chief Experience Officer explains how — and when — fashion should tap into the NFT gold rush, as featured in the fourth episode of The BoF Show, now streaming on Bloomberg Quicktake. 

Ian Rogers moved to Paris from Silicon Valley in 2015 when he was appointed Chief Digital Officer of LVMH, acting as a digital whisperer to C-suite luxury executives. 

Today, as Chief Experience Officer of Ledger — a security system that provides protection for digital currencies — he is uniquely positioned to speak to the opportunities being created as crypto technologies, gaming and fashion converge.

His insights are featured in the fourth episode of The BoF Show, now streaming on Bloomberg Quicktake. 

Here, we share the full interview with Rogers, exclusively on The BoF Podcast.

Explore the new report from BoF Insights, “The Opportunities in Digital Fashion and Avatars” here.

Watch episode 4, 'Why the Metaverse Is Fashion's Next Goldmine' here.

Nov 12, 2021
Sinead Burke: ‘Fashion has the power to change how society views people.’
23:33

Sinéad Burke refuses to be excluded, despite fashion’s poor record on welcoming people  with disabilities. 

In a wide-ranging interview, featured in the third episode of The BoF Show, Sinéad reminisces on her fashion journey — from calling out the industry for entrenched behaviours, at BoF VOICES in 2017; to advising luxury brands as Founder & CEO of consultancy “Tilt the Lens”.

Here, we share the full interview exclusively on The BoF Podcast.

Watch the third episode of The BoF Show, “Belonging: The Business Case for Diversity in Fashion”

Nov 05, 2021
Samira Nasr: “Real inclusion means anyone can follow their dreams”
22:06

In 2020, Samira Nasr became Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, the first-ever woman of colour to hold the position in the magazine’s 154 year history.

The appointment, whilst joyful, also prompted tough reflection about racism and responsibility. How can a business based on exclusivity throw its doors open to all? 

Nasr’s insights on what real inclusion looks like in fashion — and her hopes for the industry as it emerges from the pandemic — are featured in the third episode of The BoF Show, now streaming on Bloomberg QuickTake.

Here, we share the full interview with Nasr exclusively on The BoF Podcast.

Watch the episode three of The BoF Show, “Belonging: The Business Case for Diversity”

Oct 29, 2021
Angelica Cheung: Chinese Customers Will “Expect to See Something Different” When They Travel Again
52:26

“We’ve been expecting you…”

In Paris, everything is prepared for the return of big-spending tourists. Stores are open, mirrors shined, brand leaders bullish that the global capital city of luxury remains irresistible.

But when BoF founder and CEO, Imran Amed connects to Angelica Cheung in Beijing, she sounds a caution.

For 16 years, Angelica was Vogue China’s Editor-in-Chief. Today, she’s a venture partner at investment leader, Sequoia Capital China. She tells Imran that Chinese customers used to travel to Paris for choice — which they can now find at home; for price — yet prices are now balanced around the world; for “Made in France” — yet they’re increasingly proud of “Made in China”.

Her insights on what it’s going to take to lure the Chinese back to the City of Light are featured in the second episode of The BoF Show, now streaming on Bloomberg QuickTake.

Here, we share the full interview with Cheung exclusively on The BoF Podcast.

Watch the second episode of The BoF Show, “Re-Invention: How Fashion’s Megabrands Will Adapt to Post-Pandemic Customer Behaviour”

Oct 22, 2021
Could Luxury Become Responsible? | Transforming Luxury
50:41

Over the Transforming Luxury podcast series, as we discussed market dynamics, product strategies, customer experiences, emerging technologies, new retail channels and our imminent entry into the metaverse, the pressing need and increasing demand for systemic change to create a more sustainable industry was a consistent theme.

In this final episode of Transforming Luxury, a special six-episode series presented by Klarna, we confront the distinct uncertainty and disruption facing the luxury industry and us all, as a result of the climate crisis.

In 2020, BoF reported that the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions range from an estimated 4 percent to 10 percent of the global total. Without significant intervention, the industry will not align with global goals to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Failure to do so is predicted to have catastrophic consequences for civilisation, outlined in the UN’s IPCC report 2021.

However, if bold enough leadership is willing to reimagine how the industry operates, equipped with the deep pockets of market leaders and further enforcing the existing, rigorous quality controls already in place, luxury would be " uniquely positioned to transform itself,” as stated by SVP of supply chain innovation at the Savory Institute, Megan Meiklejohn.

To hear more about the role sustainability must play throughout the luxury goods industry, BoF gathered four global authorities to discuss how luxury can become more responsible with host Robin Mellery-Pratt.

Follow the series to ensure you never miss an episode and discover actionable insights into the opportunities and challenges a redefined industry will bring and how luxury’s transformation will impact your business.

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

For comments, questions, or speaker ideas, please e-mail: podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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

Oct 18, 2021
Manfred Thierry Mugler: Fashion’s Original Radical
41:30

For fashion aficionados of a certain age, the name “Thierry Mugler” throbs with memories of showgirl spectacles cast with extraordinary beauties and weirdos, garbed in looks of an other-worldly glamour. Such was their alien dazzle that there are times in this more prosaic era when I wonder if they ever really happened. Fortunately, there is now ample proof of their existence at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, where Thierry Mugler: Couturissime is on display until April next year. It’s been on a world tour since it first opened in Montreal in 2019, but its homecoming was significant enough that Mugler sat down to talk about it, and everything else, for The BoF Podcast. And, being one of those fashion aficionados of a certain age, I was slightly awestruck.

Mugler turned his back on fashion at the millennium, reclaiming his first name Manfred and devoting himself to costume design for the likes of Cirque du Soleil. He dressed Beyoncé's 2009 world tour. But the only fashion outfit he has designed in the past two decades was the “wet look” dress Kim Kardashian wore to the Met Gala in 2019. It apparently took eight months to make. Mugler had never seen her TV show, but when she walked into the room — not a word to anyone else, never a smile or a handshake — he said, “It was love at first sight.” He saw her body as that of “the original female, an antique goddess.”

It’s clear what kind of woman has always attracted and inspired Mugler. In his fashion heyday, it was Iman and Jerry Hall who embodied his very particular aesthetic. “Fashion needs a great animal to wear it,” he told me. He photographed his clothes on those women, draped over the Art Deco eagles on the Chrysler Building in New York, posed against massive Saharan sand dunes and Arctic icebergs. They were dressed like superheroines but Mugler made them small against the monumental backdrops. “It looks like they’ve been dropped from another planet,” he says now. “That was the idea.”

He claimed he wanted to help people find something strong in themselves that they could bring into their real lives. That’s why he loved photographing the acrobats and circus people he worked with after his fashion life. And, talking to Mugler, I sensed that struck a chord for him too. Metamorphosis was always a theme. The natural world was an obsession. “When you look up close, the gorgeous creatures on our planet are so out of this world.” In his couture, he never used fur, or rare feathers, or exotic skins. “I don’t want to torture animals for that,” Mugler said.

 

That sensibility made him an outlier in fashion at the time. He was often criticised. Now, it simply looks like his radicalism was ahead of its time. Mugler embraced queer culture, showed men and women in exactly the same clothes, was open to experiment of all kinds. His queer peer Jean Paul Gaultier offered a similarly idiosyncratic humanist vision, couched in the most extreme style fashion could offer. Look back at their work now and I defy you to deny their status as totems of a golden age in fashion.

Obviously, Manfred and I had a very busy podcast. Reeling out of the exhibition, head spinning with extreme visions of accomplishment (memorably celebrated in a bizarre, funny Iman-Bowie video), I had questions. Hopefully, you’ll find the answers when you listen. But one thing that stood out was Mugler’s obsession with technique. He tracked it back to his early days, when his ambition was to be a ballet dancer. “I learned at the barre how you can do nothing without technique,” he said. And his greatest points of pride related to that: personally, the body he has built for himself; professionally, his perfume Angel, a battle he waged for years with fragrance industry orthodoxy. It’s still a global top-five seller. There is supreme vindication in that, as there is in Couturissimeand clothes which will boggle minds for centuries to come.

Related Articles:

Tim Blanks’ Top Fashion Shows of All-Time: Thierry Mugler A/W 1995

Can Mugler Make Inclusive Luxury A Business Success?

Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.

Oct 15, 2021
Can Luxury Maintain Its Relevance in the Metaverse? | Transforming Luxury
34:45

The metaverse — a term originally coined by the author Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel ‘Snow Crash’ — is now widely used to describe how our physical realities will be augmented and overlaid by ambient and accessible digital experiences and services.

Luxury’s entrance into the metaverse was expedited by many brands’ leverage of new technologies to speak to consumers when lockdowns removed physical interactions in bricks-and-mortar stores and in-person events. But the impact of virtual and augmented reality on consumer behaviour preceded 2020: Forbes reported in 2019 that 40 percent of consumers were willing to spend more on a product they can experience through augmented reality technology first.

From stores that guide you from the street to luxury items designed exclusively for the smart glasses that every major tech platform is working on, the future of luxury is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.

Follow the series to ensure you never miss an episode and discover actionable insights into the opportunities and challenges a redefined industry will bring and how luxury’s transformation will impact your business.

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

For comments, questions, or speaker ideas, please e-mail: podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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

Oct 11, 2021
Tim Blanks and Imran Amed on The Season That Was
30:35

After the conclusion of Paris Fashion Week — the first in-person version of the event since the pandemic took hold in early 2020 — BoF’s editor at large Tim Blanks sat down with BoF founder and CEO Imran Amed to discuss his reflections on fashion’s return to the runway.

Designers appeared to come out of lockdown with renewed energy, breathing new life and ideas into their collections. Highlights included Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe collection, Extinction Rebellion’s talked-about moment during Louis Vuitton and the week’s finale, a tribute to the late Alber Elbaz.

Still, Blanks said that he doesn’t believe fashion has seen the full effects of the pandemic just yet. “I think in a sense everything changed and we haven’t processed it yet,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time.”

On the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Amed and Blanks explore what fashion learned from its break.

  • Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe show leaned on the surreal to expand upon the designer’s previous pandemic-era collections and experimented with new themes. It also marked a departure from previous runway show set ups; this year’s show was staged in a bare-bones space that highlighted Anderson’s sculptural silhouettes. “Of all the designers that we’ve followed so closely, his response to the pandemic was perhaps the most creative,” said Blanks. “I think it was maybe his best show for Loewe.”

  • The Simpsons’ surprise appearance at Balenciaga also provided some levity to the week, with an abbreviated episode of the hit cartoon featuring characters walking in a Balenciaga show. Demna Gvasalia also explored themes of distance with a screening replacing a traditional runway show. Even without the Simpsons’ star power, Demna showed a collection that excited buyers and critics alike, particularly in bags and accessories.

  • Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion brought about what was perhaps the most talked-about moment of fashion week. During Louis Vuitton’s runway show, an activist stormed the runway carrying a banner that read “Overconsumption = Extinction”, prompting a discussion on if the industry has changed at all during the pandemic. “Maybe the system hasn’t changed, but the people who work in the system have been changed, and that’s maybe going to change the way the industry interacts,” said Amed.

Related Articles:

In Paris, Back to Normal or Not?

Demna Gvasalia: ‘Couture Is The Most Sustainable Way of Consuming’

Fashion’s Favourite-Ever Collaboration: Balenciaga and ‘The Simpsons’

Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.

Oct 08, 2021
What Is Driving the Transformation of Luxury Retail Channels? | Transforming Luxury
42:44

Today, the channels that consumers can now use to connect with brands to elicit a range of interactions have multiplied, dramatically. With major new platforms emerging all over the world, the retail networks utilised by luxury brands are evolving at an unprecedented pace to include a huge number of customer touch points — each a distinct opportunity for growth but requiring an idiosyncratic strategy for success.

Due to mobile-commerce and social-commerce, when, how and why a consumer transacts with a brand has been reimagined entirely. The linear paths to purchase with which we are so familiar are being replaced by new conduits that combine digital content with customer-centric retail strategies to make transacting as engaging, enjoyable and instantaneous as possible.

There is one region responsible for the lion’s share of retail innovation: China. The engine of the luxury industry’s growth for decades is now the epicentre of the most significant retail innovation in the market.

From buy now, to swipe up, unboxing to bounce houses, KOLs, KOCs, shoppable video, live streaming, digital clienteling, resale sites, marketplaces, macro and micro influencers — luxury’s retail channels have been reimagined at scale. Now, that innovation is beginning to shape global retail strategy.

Follow the series to ensure you never miss an episode and discover actionable insights into the opportunities and challenges a redefined industry will bring and how luxury’s transformation will impact your business.

Oct 04, 2021
Demna Gvasalia: “Couture Is The Most Sustainable Way of Consuming”
43:30

The revival of Balenciaga’s long-dormant couture collection was the most anticipated event of the July 2021 haute couture season, and the first since the house’s namesake, Cristóbal Balenciaga, shuttered his salon in 1968.

BoF’s founder and CEO Imran Amed was granted exclusive pre-show access and sat down with Gvasalia for a wide-ranging interview which is featured in the first episode of The BoF Show, now streaming on Bloomberg QuickTake.

Here, we share the full interview with Gvasalia exclusively on The BoF Podcast.

Watch the first episode of The BoF Show, “Disruption: Is Luxury Fashion ready to Change?”

Related Articles:

Disruption: Is Luxury Fashion Ready To Change?

The Fate of the Physical Runway Show

Chanel’s Last Virtual Fashion Show?

Why Big Brands Are Skipping Fashion Week

Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.

 

Oct 01, 2021
How Is Luxury Customer Service Evolving? | Transforming Luxury
36:54

In recent decades, the race to attract and retain customers saw dizzying amounts of money spent on clienteling — the industry term for building a 1 on 1 relationship with customers. Today, for major players of scale with the resources to invest in it, successfully digitising personalised in store service, which generates much high conversion rates through recommendations and experience, is being looked to as a key driver of future competitive advantage.

Indeed, the luxury service revolution is now rooted in creating a single customer view, enabling businesses to guide an individual consumer to the products and services it offers that match their specific needs. An opportunity that stems from significant shifts in generational attitudes towards data sharing and its use.

Follow the series to ensure you never miss an episode and discover actionable insights into the opportunities and challenges a redefined industry will bring and how luxury’s transformation will impact your business.

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

For comments, questions, or speaker ideas, please e-mail: podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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

Sep 27, 2021
How Is Luxury Customer Service Evolving? | Transforming Luxury

In recent decades, the race to attract and retain customers saw dizzying amounts of money spent on clienteling — the industry term for building a 1 on 1 relationship with customers. Today, for major players of scale with the resources to invest in it, successfully digitising personalised in store service, which generates much high conversion rates through recommendations and experience, is being looked to as a key driver of future competitive advantage.

Indeed, the luxury service revolution is now rooted in creating a single customer view, enabling businesses to guide an individual consumer to the products and services it offers that match their specific needs. An opportunity that stems from significant shifts in generational attitudes towards data sharing and its use.

To discover what this means for the future of the luxury goods industry, BoF spoke with three global authorities to share their insights.

Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the CEO and co-founder of Klarna. In 15 years, Siemiatkowski has grown Klarna into one of Europe’s largest financial institutions, which provides alternative payment services to over 90 million shoppers, partnering with over 250,000 retailers globally and its own direct-to-consumer shopping app.

“The whole purpose of digitalisation is utilising data to create value. It’s the information that allows us to create richer experiences. If you sit down and have a [...] conversation with a consumer and you say, ‘yes, you are in control of what data is being shared and you have full transparency, and if you then would be willing to share some specific aspects of your data in order to get a better experience, a better price, a better whatever it might be,’ then the answer is always going to be yes.”

Holli Rogers is chair of renowned concept store Browns and chief brand officer of its parent company, Farfetch. Rogers quadrupled Browns’ business while CEO between 2015 and 2021. Previously, Rogers held roles at Chanel and Neiman Marcus before joining Net-a-Porter as a founding member in 2002.

“In the past as everything has been separate and disparate in terms of the different technologies. When you speak to different businesses everyone talks about, ‘yeah, I’ve got a client telling app. We use WhatsApp.’ But actually if you break it down, none of them are connected one to the other. So you don’t get a single customer view. It’s this idea of how do you pull all of these pieces together in one space, collecting all of these hundreds of data points that allow you to give the customer what they want when they want.”

Melissa Morris is the founder and designer of Métier, an independent leather maison best known for its logo-free handbags, travel bags and accessories. Prior to launching Métier in 2017, Morris studied sculpture and business at Emory University before working for Armani, Helmut Lang and Belstaff.

“The bespoke aspect of our business is such a great way for us to deepen our relationships with our clients and also get a really clear understanding of what’s missing in the assortment and gives me a clear direction on what to make next. What I’ve found is when I’ve gotten one bespoke request, what’s good for one is good for everyone. So a lot of our bespoke requests that I’ve been brought into the line have turned out to be big successes.”

Follow the series to ensure you never miss an episode and discover actionable insights into the opportunities and challenges a redefined industry will bring and how luxury’s transformation will impact your business.

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

For comments, questions, or speaker ideas, please e-mail: podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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

Sep 27, 2021
Li Edelkoort’s ‘Anti-Fashion’ Manifesto
23:35

The fashion system has been broken for some time, said trend forecaster Li Edelkoort at VOICES 2016. But, it can still regain its cultural cachet, and fix its exploitative practices.

When trend forecaster Li Edelkoort first published a manifesto called “Anti-Fashion” in 2015, people across the fashion industry told her that her critique had finally put how they felt into words.

“Fashion is old-fashioned,” said Edelkoort. But she believes the system can evolve to fit today’s reality and regain the cultural value it has lost over the years.

On the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, we revisit Edelkoort’s talk on the BoF VOICES stage in 2016. Her prescient ideas have only become more urgent and applicable in 2021 as the world emerges from a pandemic that forced the industry to further reevaluate its systems, values and place in society.

  • Fashion’s tendency towards individualism, which sees the industry place near-exclusive focus on the creator, doesn’t fit with today’s society, which is “hungry for consensus and altruism,” said Edelkoort. The problem stems in part from fashion schools, which, for the most part, have not updated their curriculum to reflect the current issues plaguing the industry.

  • The race to the bottom regarding prices is destroying fashion’s cultural value as well as harming garment workers. “How can a product that needs to be sewn, grown, harvested, combed, spun, knitted, cut and stitched, finished, printed, labeled, packaged and transported cost a couple of euros? It’s impossible,” said Edelkoort. As a starting point, she suggested implementing legislation on minimum prices.

  • The retail experience also needs to be reinvented to be more focused and better presented to consumers. Edelkoort points to Dover Street Market, whose curated approach sets it apart from traditional department stores. “Everything we do is from the 20th century. Even concept stores and online commerce were from the last moments of the 20th century,” said Edelkoort.

Related Articles:

Chasing the Holy Grail of Circularity

Brands Face New Pressure on Labour Rights

The Green Global Age of the Information Revolution

Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.

Sep 24, 2021
What Defines a Luxury Product Today? | Transforming Luxury
37:51

In Episode 2 of Transforming Luxury, BoF’s new podcast presented by Klarna, we investigate what will inform the luxury product mix of the future.

Indeed, the definition of a luxury good has expanded dramatically in recent years to now include a host of disruptive new categories, from the luxury sneakerhead culture that dominated the past decade, to collectibles, curios, NFTs and even some mass produced products capturing attention in the luxury market.

Evolving consumer sentiment is also increasingly influencing luxury’s manufacturing process. Today, customers demand brands and businesses authentically represent global cultures in a way that serves the communities themselves and not the industry’s shareholders. They also hold brands accountable for the impact of their supply chains and production processes. Yet, workers’ rights was among the worst-performing categories in BoF’s Sustainability Index.

To discover what this means for the future of the luxury goods industry, BoF assembled four global authorities to share their insight.

Aaron Levant is an entrepreneur working at the intersection of fashion, culture, events and media. Levant co-founded streetwear and music festival ComplexCon, and streetwear trade show Agenda Today, Levant is CEO of NTWRK, a mobile-first video shopping platform — backed by Drake and LeBron James — that hosts events and exclusive, limited-edition product drops available to purchase immediately within its app.

“For the last hundred years, luxury was easily defined as European couture — fashion houses who own the luxury space — and now, seemingly newer brands not only create luxury in their own right, but then collaborate with true luxury brands. I think the definition around luxury is ever evolving as for who fits in that category.”

Zerina Akers is an American fashion stylist and costume designer. She is the founder of the self-funded e-commerce site Black Owned Everything and has worked as Beyoncé Knowles Carter‘s stylist, as well as costume designing the 2020 visual album, Black Is King, for which she won an Emmy in 2021.

“Generally, many of these companies have benefitted from rap culture and imagery that we’ve created for them. We’ve created so much marketing for these companies and I’m just hoping that there continues to be real, sustainable change for them in the way that they shine light on our community.”

Bethany Williams is a UK-based menswear designer with a focus on affecting social change. She founded her namesake label in 2017, won the Queen Elizabeth II Award in 2019 and the British Fashion Council and British Vogue Designer Fashion Fund in 2021.

“For me, luxury is about having a product that you don’t feel guilty owning. Luxury is about beautiful craftsmanship and the slowing down of the manufacturing process, working with artisans and supporting local community projects.”

Fewocious is the youngest artist ever to be featured by Christie’s — and the first to crash its site. He is one of the most successful and visible members of a growing community of crypto artists finding success in the NFT market, launching a shoe collaboration with design studio RTFKT earlier this year, with more than 600 pairs selling out in seven minutes and netting around $3.1 million.

“With the NFT space, art can move. You can interact with art. There’s programmable art, you can programme layers so that someone can change how your art looks [...]. There’s so much I probably don’t even know about yet, just because you can kind of do anything and figure out a way to attach an NFT to it, which I think is so rad and the future.”

Follow the series to ensure you never miss an episode and discover actionable insights into the opportunities and challenges a redefined industry will bring and how luxury’s transformation will impact your business.

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

For comments, questions, or speaker ideas, please e-mail: podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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

Sep 20, 2021
The Green Global Age of the Information Revolution
19:31

The world is in the middle of an information revolution, and it’s a situation, economist Carlota Perez says, we’ve been in before. Capitalism resets every few decades, and follows a familiar pattern: An investment frenzy boosts new technologies that change how people live and interact, but when that craze eventually collapses, it leaves behind social upheaval and resentment.

To stop that cycle, this time, Perez says on the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, we need to deliberately disassemble society’s most harmful systems and ingrained beliefs so that every country and every person is included in the sustainable future of the earth.

“We can shape the Information Revolution into a green golden age,” said Perez. She added that the fashion industry has a huge role to play, saying, “It’s up to you to reinvent what we understand by fashion… and it’s up to you to rethink, reinvent, redesign.”

That reinvention and redesigning means interrogating what wealth, well-being, and pleasure are — and untethering those ideas from physical things. Perez joined Imran Amed last year at VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers, to discuss what needs to happen to harness the information revolution to become more sustainable and inclusive.

  • Globalisation is happening, but it needs to be reworked to include all people and nations. Until now, globalisation has seen businesses chasing lower costs, and has been concentrated in Asia. “We need to discover what each area of the world, what each country can do, and re-invent, but with consensus — not just with government deciding but working together with business to re-conceptualise each bit of territory, each city,” says Perez.

  • Both individual lifestyle changes as well as government action are required to create a greener, more sustainable future — which benefits businesses and the whole of society, not just the one percent. “We need to work together… Every golden age has been a win-win... with the government staging the game,” says Perez.

  • The fashion industry needs to stop perpetuating a cycle of waste and instead focus on creating high-quality, long-lasting products that can be reused and redesigned. That requires completely rethinking the clothing industry — a daunting but feasible and necessary task. “If you put your brilliant heads to solving this problem and making money along the way, you will succeed,” concludes Perez. “But you’ve got to recognise the obstacles. If you deny it, you’re going to die, and you can’t die — we need you.”

To learn more about BoF VOICES 2021, to be held from Dec 1-3, 2021, please click here.

Related Articles:

The Definitive Guide: How to Build a Sustainable Fashion Brand

Fashion’s Greenwashing Problem Begins with Bad Data

How to Avoid the Greenwashing Trap

Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.

Sep 17, 2021
How Did 2020 Impact Luxury? | Transforming Luxury
28:31

Critic Robin Givhan, analyst Luca Solca, author Dana Thomas and Métier founder Melissa Morris discuss how luxury became a winners-take-all market and how growing consumer scrutiny is driving change.

BoF is investigating how market disruption, new technology and increasing consumer scrutiny are driving transformative change in the $300 billion luxury goods market, in an exclusive new podcast series presented by Klarna.

As the extraordinary events of 2020 — from the global pandemic, lockdowns and economic downturns to the accelerating climate crisis and social justice movements — impacted the luxury industry, scale-driven advantages widened the performance gap between the industry’s super winners and the rest of the market. In 2020, BoF reported that 75 percent of companies did not generate enough economic profit to cover the cost of their capital. Yet, the leading mega brands and conglomerates reported record sales.

However, a growing dissonance is emerging between luxury’s traditional values of scarcity and exclusivity, and the emergence of a more inclusive, egalitarian and sustainable global consumer culture, making the luxury industry vulnerable to shifting consumer sentiment. Today, businesses must respond to growing consumer scrutiny around the sociological and ecological impact of how they operate and what they produce.

Follow the series to ensure you never miss an episode and discover actionable insights into the opportunities and challenges a redefined industry will bring and how luxury’s transformation will impact your business.

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

For comments, questions, or speaker ideas, please e-mail: podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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

Sep 13, 2021
Chasing the Holy Grail of Circularity
25:55

The modern, fast-paced fashion industry feeds a culture of waste that results in millions of tonnes of textiles burned or sent to landfill every year. Brands are acknowledging the problem, increasingly labelling products with buzzwords like “circular” and marketing bags made from recycled fishing nets or shoes crafted from plastic bottles. But the industry still needs to find scalable solutions to its waste problem.

This week on The BoF Podcast, chief correspondent Lauren Sherman speaks with chief executive of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), Edwin Keh, about ways fashion can tackle the waste challenge.

  • Recycling innovations that could turn old clothes back into new materials are on the horizon. But alongside investments to scale up new technologies, fashion must rethink its approach to design, Keh said. “We make stuff, we use it and we want it to go away, and we take new material and we repeat that process,” says Keh. “But not built into that process is circularity and the design intent for it to be recycled.”

  • New recycling technologies must also have a compelling business case to be able to compete with established ways of doing business, says Keh. “If you solve the science problem and you don’t make the business case for it or you don’t create the logistics for it, then you have sort of like a half-baked solution that makes you feel good, works well in the lab, but doesn’t have a real-world application.”

  • The fashion industry also needs to get smarter about data analytics to understand consumer trends and manage production accordingly, Keh says. “There’s a lot of opportunity to work on more intelligent ways to do analytics and… not to make [overproduction mistakes] in the first place,” he adds.

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Sep 10, 2021
Welcome to Transforming Luxury
02:59

In a new series from The Business of Fashion, BoF speaks to 22 experts from the worlds of business, technology and science, creative leaders and renowned ecologists, to investigate the forces driving transformative change in the luxury goods market. The six-part series, created in partnership with Klarna, explores the future of the $300 billion industry, from new consumer behaviour to the next-gen technology and the urgent need to create a more sustainable industry. Subscribe now to never miss an episode.

The Transforming Luxury Podcast launches on 13th September. Subscribe now to never miss an episode.

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For comments, questions, or speaker ideas, please e-mail: podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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

Sep 06, 2021
Misa Hylton’s Enduring Impact On Fashion
43:47

American stylist and fashion designer Misa Hylton rose to prominence in the ‘90s for her work with hip-hop and R&B legends such as Lil’ Kim and Mary J. Blige. She played a major role in bridging fashion and hip-hop. But in the past, Hylton didn’t received due credit for her lasting impact on fashion trends — and even contributing to the financial success of select fashion companies — according to BoF columnist Jason Campbell. This week on The BoF Podcast, Campbell is joined by Hylton and Nick Nelson, an adjunct professor at The New School who teaches a course on fashion styling, to discuss Hylton’s life and work, as well as the enduring significance of hip-hop culture in fashion.

  • Hylton’s family emphasised traditional academic subjects, like science and math, during her childhood. Style was a way for her to channel her more creative side; she changed up to five times a day based on her mood at the moment. “That was the first place that I got to work with image … the energy would change, and I’m like, ‘OK, time to change my clothes — wardrobe change,’” says Hylton.

  • In styling, Hylton ditched the ball gowns to dress her clients in looks that were true to who they were, increasing representation for a group that had been left out of pop-culture conversations. “So many young girls related to it in the inner city and in the hoods. And it was really powerful because of that, because we were now able to see ourselves and see our style in the forefront on TV,” says Hylton.

  • When the looks Hylton styled for the likes of Blige and Lil’ Kim gained popularity, brands quickly followed, replicating them for the mainstream and leaving Hylton, and the other originators out. “I was not ever asked until recently to come into any luxury fashion house and create, or any photo shoot that was in a high end fashion magazine,” she says. “I wasn’t invited to style it, but our style was being emulated.” Nelson adds that “to know the history was behind that ... is incredibly important for this new generation of creators.”

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Sep 03, 2021
Building Loyalty through Brick-and-Mortar Retail
28:13

A panel of experts discussed strategies for making physical retail a strong service touchpoint that builds brand loyalty.

Shopping is evolving. Consumers now experience brands across channels: they may be introduced to a brand on social media, try on its products at a store, and then make a purchase online. Or, they may browse online and then pick-up an item in-person. For retailers, that means a sale can happen anywhere, at any time.

This week on The BoF Podcast, our retail correspondent Cathaleen Chen is joined by Adam Levene, founder of digital customer service platform Hero; Elyse Walker, boutique and concept store owner; and Dan Schoening, Nordstrom’s vice president of business strategy and operations to discuss how retailers can service customers in a way that creates a seamless, individualised experience across retail channels.

  • Beyond conversions, a strong digital strategy can serve as a way to get customers into a store and foster further engagement, according to Levene. “It’s all about giving that customer that comfort, and that desire and reason to actually head into store, having that confidence knowing the item will be there, it’s going to be in their size, and they can be greeted by the stylists they connected with online,” says Levene.

  • Convenience can actually drive business efficiency. Nordstrom links inventory across all markets, so that “customers have access to all that product, way more choice, and way more control around how they get it,” says Schoening. Then, the company provides easy access points for pick-up and returns, which, in turn, allows Nordstrom to get merchandise back into its ecosystem to sell again.

  • Building a lasting relationship with customers is essential to success. To do so, retailers should have store associates focus on building trust with kindness and authenticity. “If you pressure your sales team to hit certain numbers and it’s not authentic and it’s not organic, you might have a good day, but that hurts the long-term potential of your business,” says Walker.

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How to Build Customer Loyalty

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Aug 27, 2021
Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing on Authentic Representation
44:50
The designer speaks with Tim Blanks about his journey to find his birth parents and the power of breaking boundaries in fashion.  

Olivier Rousteing was named Balmain’s creative director ten years ago, when he was still only in his mid-twenties. But Rousteing — who was adopted as a child and grew up believing he was of mixed-race parentage — says he always felt like he was performing a role to fit in amongst the French fashion elite. Recently, he decided to try and find his birth parents to give him a greater understanding of his identity, and allowed a documentary crew to film the process. In the process, Rousteing discovered his Somalian and Ethiopian heritage. The resulting film, “Wonder Boy,” came out last year, and arrived on Netflix in June.

The experience has made him want to be more open about his identity. “You knew the designer for many years and now you are going to know the human being behind that,” he says.

This week on The BoF Podcast, BoF’s editor-at-large Tim Blanks speaks with Rousteing about connecting with his personal history, the power of community and why timelessness in fashion is vital today.

  • Rousteing said he hopes his personal journey will help provide inspiration for young creatives from diverse backgrounds hoping to make it in fashion. “I think I am the new France,” says Rousteing. “I think this is the message that I am delivering to people… This is my mission to give some hope in breaking boundaries.”

  • In his decade at the helm, Rousting has brought a new approach to Balmain’s customers, too. “What I wanted to do during this decade is to make sure that there was awareness of the brand,” said Rousteing. “So, my first step was to create a strong community of people listening to the name of Balmain.”

  • The pandemic has made Rousteing rethink his approach to design. “I think what is trendy is not cool anymore,” said Rousteing. “You want to buy values and you want to buy timeless [products] and you want to feel that what you get is something that will stay in time.”

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Aug 20, 2021
Unpacking Fashion’s Role in Slowing Global Warming
28:36

The fashion industry is one of the world’s worst polluters, and this week’s grim report from the UN’s IPCC made clear that change needs to come quickly.

 

This week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report from the world’s top climate scientists, warning that global temperatures will rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040 and underscoring that human influence is “unequivocally” responsible for global warming since the late 19th century.

The fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be between 4 and 10 percent of the global total. “In the last two years, many of the industry’s biggest brands have taken steps to address emissions within their own supply chains,” says BoF deputy editor Brian Baskin. “It can be hard to tell how effective the industry’s efforts have been and what else needs to be done to address climate change.”

On this week’s BoF Podcast, Baskin is joined by Michael Sadowski, a sustainability advisor and former vice president of sustainability at Nike; Laila Petrie, chief executive of sustainability consultancy 2050, which works with the Fashion Pact; and Hannah Phang, head of marketing and advocacy at sustainability consultancy Futerra to unpack fashion’s role in slowing global warming.

  • Real action on emissions will require collaboration across the industry and cooperation with investors, financial institutions and policymakers. “Fundamentally, this is a problem which no individual company can solve on its own,” says Petrie. “We have all sorts of intractable issues around infrastructure, around incentives, around policy and no one actor can really operate within that system without being affected by it.”

  • The industry often offers carbon offsets as a climate change solution. But according to Sadowski, planting a tree or donating a dollar is not a path to achieving meaningful change. “The focus should be on reducing emissions. That’s what the science says, that’s what the NGOs work in the science-based target initiatives [say] — we must decarbonise all sectors, at a much more ambitious pace,” says Sadowski.

  • A brand’s messaging about sustainability is important, too. Providing accessible information on progress — and missteps — goes a long way. Beyond just being honest, “the other thing that consumers are interested in is: how are you helping them be more sustainable? How are you helping them be more climate friendly?” says Phang.

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Aug 13, 2021
How Retailers Can Use Data to Improve Customer Experience
31:08

Retail futurist Doug Stephens is joined by a panel of experts to tackle the tricky business of collecting, understanding and using data to improve retail.

 

In retail, data can be a powerful tool to help brands understand their customers and how they engage with products. But just as retail itself has changed dramatically over the past few years, so have a retailer’s most important metrics of success — it’s no longer just about sales. As highlighted in the BoF Professional Summit: What’s a Store For?, it’s not sufficient for retailers to solely measure variables related to purchase — such as sales per square foot, or average footfall. But while there is no shortage of data that retailers can capture (and hundreds of ways to do it), not all data is worth paying attention to. Knowing what data is worth paying attention to can be tricky.

“Simply because you can measure something, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should or it doesn’t necessarily make it important,” said Doug Stephens, retail futurist and BoF columnist.

This week on the BoF Podcast, Stephens is joined by Brittany Hicks and Jessica Couch of Fayetteville Road, a consulting firm which helps retailers understand niche markets and women of colour, as well as Alexei Agratchev, co-founder and chief executive of in-store analytics firm RetailNext to discuss how retailers should be using retail data.

  • Retailers have access to an overwhelming amount of information: what percentage of passersby enter a store, how much time those visitors spend inside, what merchandise they interact with and how many times they return to the space, as well as demographic details like age and gender. “The most important thing that stores can do to be great is to constantly invest in tools and processes to listen and respond to their customers,” said Agratchev.

  • Retailers need to be agile and translate the information they gather into actionable strategies for trying out new formats, layouts and sales associate engagement tactics. “It’s not not just a matter of implementing the technology to gather data but potentially using it as a means of experimentation and testing as well,” said Stephens.

  • Couch says retailers also need to dig deeper to understand some of the more complicated attributes about their consumers, like where they come from, what communities they belong to, and what their sentiments are about the brand. “There is a disconnect,” said Couch. “A lot of brands don’t understand how people feel about their products or experience.”

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Aug 06, 2021
Marni's Francesco Risso on Fashion After Isolation
50:33

Marni’s creative director reflects on the changes that must endure post-pandemic and the importance of emotion.

 

In retrospect, Francesco Risso’s January 2020 menswear show for Marni seems prophetic. The collection took inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” which tells a story of plague and societal excess. These themes continue to resonate with the designer after 16 months living with the pandemic.

On this week’s episode of the BoF Podcast, Risso tells BoF’s editor-at-large Tim Blanks why fashion’s habits of over-production and lavish runways are now “redundant” and where he believes the industry should go from here.

  • Risso has always looked back at brand archives for inspiration, but now he sees an opportunity to extend that habit to create more timeless designs. “Every season we take stuff from the old archives… and it’s become Marni’s prerogative, so every collection we have those heirlooms,” says Risso. “I’m very a big fan of trying to be responsible with design in that sense.”

  • Risso reflects on the importance of simplicity. Refocusing on creating connections and celebrating the small things over the past year has been a key focus at Marni. “I think it really forced us to focus on the authenticity of our ideas and also to celebrate them at a certain point… we [celebrated] in a very light and primitive kind of way,” he says.

  • Changes to runway shows during the pandemic must not be overturned, according to Risso, who calls for more permanent change to the industry’s schedule by reducing the number of collections in a year. “I would love that whatever we have learnt right now is not just thrown off,” says Risso.

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Jul 30, 2021
How to Integrate Immersive Experiences into Physical Stores
25:27

Ssense’s Krishna Nikhil and 2PM’s Web Smith talk strategies for making physical retail exciting at The BoF Professional Summit: What’s a Store For?

 

The role of physical retail has changed drastically over the past few years — particularly amid the pandemic — as customers turned to digital channels and brands sharpened their focus on e-commerce. But, physical stores remain an important touchpoint. During this month’s BoF Professional Summit “What’s a Store For?” Krishna Nikhil, chief merchandising officer & chief marketing officer of Ssense, and Web Smith, founder of 2PM, unpacked the different ways brands are transforming their stores to be more than just a place to conduct transactions. That means thinking about a physical retail space as a means to provide experiences and entertainment that are relevant to their audiences and continue to prioritise service.

“It’s so important to think about how you create something that is meaningful for the customer,” says Nikhil. “For us, that really started with this idea of ‘how do we reinvent how commerce takes place in the store?’”

Nikhil and Web Smith, founder of retail media company 2PM, join BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed for a discussion about making stores a grounds for immersive experiences without diluting their purpose of obtaining customers.

  • Ssense has streamlined the trying-and-buying process to be more efficient by introducing an appointment service so that customers can spend their time in-store engaging with the cultural programming and the “big moments” the retailer orchestrates — like Virgil Abloh’s 2018 “Cutting Room Floor” exhibition, which recreated his studio in the space. “What we are doing is giving both a great experience with product, but also giving time back to that customer… That time back, is about immersion in all the other experiences that we create in the store,” said Nikhil.

  • Pointing to direct-to-consumer start-up Rowing Blazers, which used only about 30 to 40 percent of the space in its flagship for actual merchandise, Smith says product doesn’t need to dominate a store. “What are the associated things: the moments, the history, the accessories that you were merchandising with — the history of the industry itself?” he said. “What are those things that you would associate with the sale of those products?”

  • As the line between media and commerce increasingly intersects, brands need to present a specific vision of their point of view to the audience they want to attract. “Products are almost commoditised at this point: anyone can make anything. What makes a product unique right now is the person that’s selling it and the audience that they’re selling it to,” said Smith.

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Jul 23, 2021
Photographer Mert Alas’ New Venture
27:08

BoF’s Tim Blanks speaks with one half of the renowned duo Mert and Marcus about finding new creative avenues.

 

Renowned fashion photographer Mert Alas — one half of the renowned duo Mert and Marcus — has spent the last four years immersed in the world of gin. While pandemic pivots to new creative ventures have become commonplace, Alas was looking for a new creative outlet long before the current crisis. In crafting his new aromatic gin — named Seventy One after the number of nights it takes to rest the spirit in oak casks — he found many parallels with fashion’s creative challenges. Just like in fashion, gin making has suffered from a focus on speed over quality. True craft requires patience and time, Alas says.

On this week’s BoF Podcast, Alas speaks with Tim Blanks about finding new creative avenues and resisting the pressure to produce more and more and more stuff.

  • Alas approached his new gin like any other creative project as a “relentless journey for perfection.” He immersed himself in the process, learning about every step, from the drink’s perfume basis to how many days were required to settle the alcohol. “It became this like a domino effect of ideas and in reality, an experience,” he says.

  • As Alas thought about how he wanted to position his new brand, he spent a lot of time reflecting on the “selfish” nature of the fashion industry. During lockdown, he wanted to create “some kind of an artistic give back,” using Instagram to connect with young creative followers and give them feedback.

  • Creatives should hold on to the time they had during the pandemic to focus on their craft, Alas says. “I was very much on a go, go, go [mentality] for the past 30 years… What I realised [during] the pandemic was that we also never stopped... I was doing a lot of quantity, but now I realise I missed craft.”

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Jul 16, 2021
Selfridges’ Andrew Keith on Post-Pandemic Retail
28:10

Andrew Keith, managing director of Selfridges, discusses the future of the British department store at The BoF Professional Summit: What’s a Store For?

The purpose of the store has shifted dramatically in the past few years. But while other department stores struggle to keep up with these changes, Selfridges has established itself as an outlier by doubling down on its physical retail strategy, as highlighted in BoF’s newest Case Study, “Can Selfridges Future-Proof the Department Store?” The British chain has transformed its storefronts into experiential hubs, decked out with pop-ups, restaurants, art installations and even a skateboarding bowl, to try to get as many consumers as possible to spend as much time as possible within store walls.

“What we’re creating within the Selfridges stores is a destination,” said Andrew Keith, managing director of Selfridges.”It’s about being able to create a space people want to go to for the day.”

On this week’s BoF Podcast, Keith joins BoF’s Imran Amed at Selfridges’ Oxford Street flagship during The BoF Professional Summit “What’s a Store For?” The two chat about how the pandemic has affected the retailer’s face-to-face focus, how the company — rumoured to be in discussions about a £4 billion ($5.6 billion) sale to an unknown buyer — is shoring up its e-commerce channels and what he sees for the fused future of digital and physical retail.

  • The pandemic decimated London tourism, which made Selfridges think more locally about its retail strategy, and in turn, built market share with domestic customers. From Birmingham to Manchester, Selfridges works with local creatives to make every store distinct in a way that engages with the particular place’s needs and aesthetics. “Each of these communities has its own diversity, it has its own entrepreneurial environment around it,” said Keith. “It’s important for us to be able to reflect that.”

  • The retailer may be investing in digital, but it is maintaining its focus on the curated and experiential aspects of its offering across channels, because that’s what Keith says will set Selfridges apart from the seemingly endless e-commerce options. “Some of the pure-play retailers don’t have the same sort of richness that we can create with the fusion of physical and digital together,” said Keith.

  • As Selfridges continues to evolve its retail model, it’s experimenting with circularity, recycling and repair through initiatives like “Project Earth,” where it set targets for materials and partnership shifts, and “Resellfridges,” its resale and rental service. In doing so, the retailer is making fundamental changes to the metrics it uses for success. “We’re not only changing the way people shop, we’re also changing the way we approach business,” says Keith, adding that the company’s focus will shift to more sustainable metrics like longevity of customer lifecycle, balancing margin opportunities, and changing the way it looks at acquisition.

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Jul 09, 2021
Karen Walker on Shedding Excess and Renewing Purpose
33:54

When the Covid-19 crisis struck, Karen Walker — known for her offbeat designs that have been worn by the likes of Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama, and carried by retailers such as Barneys and Harvey Nichols — found that she was propelled to shift the way she thought about her business, her mission as a designer and her community. Walker’s home country, New Zealand, battled the Covid-19 pandemic with a swift hand — its citizens saw only five weeks of lockdowns before the virus disappeared from within its borders. Despite the relative brevity of the country’s lockdowns, business owners and brands were still faced with the same existential crises and questions as the rest of the world. Now that people within the country have returned to something close to normal life (just without tourists), Walker notes several shifts in attitude: people want to treat themselves, but they also want to support the nation and local businesses that supported them. More generally, consumers have come out of lockdown more interested in buying products aligned with what they stand for.

On this week’s BoF Podcast, Walker joins Tim Blanks in a conversation about dealing with change, defining desire and life on the other side of the Covid crisis.

  • When New Zealand’s prime minister announced the country would go into lockdown in March, Walker had just finalised the next year’s budget. Instead of being able to sit back and do business as usual, she was forced to rethink everything and ask existential questions about her business that would go on to have a lasting impact. “If this goes on for six months or a year, and I really have to fight for this, what am I fighting for? What will my audience miss? What’s at stake? Why should I go into battle for this?” she said.

  • After going through what Walker calls nature’s “forced contemplation,” she stopped thinking of herself as primarily a designer, but rather, a retailer who serves the needs of her community. As part of that mindset shift, Walker abandoned the traditional fashion calendar, for one, because she realised it was more in her customer’s interest to do so. Even though she sees the change as good, it was still unsettling. “Change is uncomfortable, alright, even if you know you have to do it — it’s still an uncomfortable place.” Walker said.

  • Walker has observed transformations in what consumers think about and look for when shopping. First, they want to know what retailers stand for and how it aligns with what they care about. Second, they want products that are both beautiful and functional. “They want it to be a good product, not necessarily a new product. That speaks to how it’s made, how it’s designed, how it functions, the cost of its making — the unseen costs on people and planet,” said Walker. “Those are very much in people’s minds, and that’s what motivates me too. I’m not interested in just making more and more stuff.”

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Jul 02, 2021
Vanessa Kingori on the Reinvention of British Vogue
30:08

British Vogue’s editorial transformation over the past four years has been widely documented, but changes on the business side are equally noteworthy. Vanessa Kingori, British Vogue’s first female publisher (who works alongside editor-in-chief Edward Enninful), has taken more of a consultative role with advertising clients, focusing on the health of their brands, not just reach and impressions. Today, brands are more interested in how they can create human connections and innovate through Vogue’s channels, rather than just buying space on the printed page.

On the latest edition of The BoF Podcast, Kingori talks with BoF’s Imran Amed about the publication’s new business strategy, and how it ties in with the magazine’s focus on diversity, inclusion and sustainability.

  • Cover launches still matter, but Kingori and Enninful are focusing on reflecting the multifaceted lives of their readers. With that, has come a change in how the magazine highlights and thinks about women. “The big shift here is [Edward] is taking the magazine from being about these beautiful dresses, to being about the woman in the dress,” said Kingori. “She wants beautiful things, but she also has a lifestyle. She has a career. She has other aspirations, she wants to accessorise a dress.”

  • Though everyone seems to be ringing the alarm bells, according to Kingori, print is not dead. “There is no digital marketing that you could do that would be more effective. Our print magazine is our biggest marketing tool, and our social media platforms are our biggest agents,” she said.

  • The title hasn’t shied away from making brands feel uncomfortable by bringing up societal issues, and it’s actually been of commercial benefit to British Vogue. “The reality is, we have increased our sales revenue and our digital audience in every single way, in every single metric since we started. Audiences are ready for those difficult conversations,” said Kingori.

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Jun 25, 2021
Aspesi’s Lawrence Steele on Making the Most of this Fashion Moment
41:37

The Milan-based, American designer speaks with Tim Blanks about how he plans to introducing the cult brand’s enduring values to a new global audience.

When Lawrence Steele was named creative director at Aspesi in November, it was a home-coming of sorts. The American designer consulted for the Milan-based label for 13 years before departing in March 2017 to join Marni as associate creative director. Now, he’s been tasked with introducing the cult label founded in 1969 by Alberto Aspesi to a new global audience, while remaining true to its distinctive identity and ethos which Steele says are suited for this moment of reflection and reset.

On this week’s episode of The BoF Podcast, Lawrence Steele speaks with editor-at-large Tim Blanks as he debuts his first collection for Aspesi:

  • Steele is looking to technology to help Aspesi get big international traction, while retaining its niche insider vibe. The brand debuted on WeChat and Weibo in April, and expects to launch on Tmall in September. “I think today with the world, how it’s opened up so vastly through technology, there’s something quaint about [Aspesi] being a small brand, but there’s something very exciting about taking the values of the brand out into the world.”

  • When it comes to fashion, retaining an authentic brand identity can’t mean standing still; it’s a constant balance to honour traditions and remain relevant. “It’s very easy if you step back and you think about the long run to see what lasts and to gauge what’s happening,” said Steele. “But you have to have the culture of being able to look at it from above and not being caught up in the world of what fashion really is, which is change, because fashion by nature is change, it’s the fashion of the moment.”

  • Steele sees the pandemic as an opportunity to reset the fashion industry and do away with wasteful season cycles and excessive production. “My hope is that what we draw from this is that we have found other creative ways of communicating, of reaching each other, of creating through the technology that was around us all along.”

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Jun 18, 2021
Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli and Craig Green on Creative Collaboration
38:25

The Valentino creative director and London menswear designer discuss their process reimagining the Roman brand’s signature rockstud.

The Valentino rockstud has become a brand icon. To mark its tenth anniversary, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli teamed up with British menswear designer Craig Green to create a sneaker adorned with the Valentino symbol. It was a collaboration forged over Zoom during the pandemic, with Piccioli based in Rome and Green in East London. On this week’s episode of The BoF Podcast, editor-at-large Tim Blanks speaks with Piccioli and Green about creative collaboration and reimagining design icons.

  • When collaborating, designers’ differences can often offer the best source of creative inspiration, says Green. “A collaboration works best when it’s from two separate worlds coming together and seeing what can be born out of that.”

  • Shifting meaning while upholding tradition has been Piccioli’s mantra.  The new sneaker aims to honour Valentino’s heritage and traditions, but also find the power in reinterpreting an established symbol. “I want to use the same objects, the same signs, but I want to give them a different meaning,” says Piccioli.

  • Above all, collaboration is an education. “I think with every collaboration and with every person that you work with, especially working with someone like Pierpaolo, you learn a lot,” says Green. “You kind of inevitably change in the future what you plan to do.”

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Jun 11, 2021
What’s the Role of an Office in a Post-Covid World?
39:08

Jane Clay, strategic director at workplace design consultancy Gensler talks to BoF’s Imran Amed about how offices of the future will play a critical role in creating a sense of culture, community and belonging.

Almost overnight, the pandemic fundamentally altered the way we work, forcing both employers and employees to embrace the idea of working from home. But now, as vaccination rates rise, offices re-open and employee expectations around flexible working models grow, business leaders everywhere are asking the same question: what’s the role of an office in a post-Covid world?

This week on the BoF Podcast, Jane Clay, strategic director at workplace design consultancy Gensler, joins editor-in-chief Imran Amed to discuss why offices are more than just functional workplaces. Office spaces are crucial for young employees to benefit from mentoring and guidance through shadowing their more experienced colleagues. “If you have a lot of people in your organisation who are quite young and may need a lot of mentoring and a lot of looking after, in the sense of their growth and learning, then it might not be such a great idea to not have them around you [in an office],” said Clay.

  • Clay recommends taking a more holistic view, establishing how shared spaces can creating a sense of culture, community and belonging. “Whether you are in fashion, whether you are in art and design, whether you are in fintech, and actually whether you are legal, I think no matter what arena of work you are in the office will be that totem for culture and connection.”

  • As organisation leaders plan to redesign their office, Clay said sustainability must be factored into decision-making from the start. “There is something in the idea of how do we reposition real estate? Why build something new when you can reposition something old?” she said. “There is a relevance in the old that also has a great story when it comes to sustainability.”

  • While Zoom calls have been democratising during the pandemic, the gradual return to the office in a hybrid working model is likely to create challenges. “While we have all been in our own little boxes [on Zoom calls], we have all had the same experience, but as soon as you start to have some in and some out [of offices] we have to be very mindful,” Clay said. “This means communications and behavioural protocols really have to be looked at.”

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Jun 04, 2021
Camilla Lowther on Building a Career as a Fashion Creative
44:08

The highly respected talent agent talks to BoF’s Tim Blanks about how young creatives can develop their careers and have meaningful impact.

CLM is one of the most influential management agencies in the industry. But after 35 years representing the likes of Juergen Teller and Tim Walker, last year’s upheaval reminded Camilla Lowther of how she got started: working at a small agency and building new networks. This year, she launched Fire, a creative talent agency focused on the new generation of talent.

This week on The BoF Podcast, Lowther and editor-at-large Tim Blanks discuss opportunities to learn from and with young generations and why being true to yourself is still fundamental to a successful career as a creative.

  • “Believe in what you do. Don’t try and do what you think other people want you to do, because, you know, the truth is really important. Even if it takes longer to get there, if you really believe in it, then other people will believe in it,” says Lowther.

  • Creativity is best served when you’re open to sharing and learning, whatever stage of your career you’re at. “I think the one thing that’s really important for all of us who’ve been in the business for possibly a long time is to impart our knowledge and our narrative to [young people],” says Lowther. “And then then it’s up to them to take what they want to and also to teach us something new.”

  • Lowther reflects on how persistence is an important quality in anyone starting out in their career and how remaining true to your vision is critical. “Don’t try and do what you think other people want,” she says. “Even if it takes longer to get there, if you really believe in it, then other people will believe in it.”

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May 28, 2021
The End of an Era at Missoni
50:42

Creative director Angela Missoni reflects on life beyond Missoni as she steps down after 24 years in the role.

Angela Missoni is stepping back from her role as creative director of Missoni. While she’ll stay on as president, the company will now be led by chief executive Livio Proli, who was appointed after the brand took on private equity funding from FSI Mid-Market Growth Equity Fund in 2018.

This week on The BoF Podcast, Angela reflects on the family heritage and craftsmanship that still sit at the Italian luxury brand’s core in conversation with editor-at-large Tim Blanks.

  • At its heart, Missoni has been a family business, drawing on the creative flare of three generations. “I think my parents invented a style,” said Missoni. “They invented a new language in fashion and then I think in the past 25 years I was able to expand the lexicon of this language.”

  • The brand’s signature stripes are partly the result of technological limits when Missoni’s parents began creating knitwear; stripes were the only thing the machine they had could knit. “Missoni evolved through the evolution of technology, but the hand was always more relevant,” said Missoni. “People were asking my father if he designed on a computer. No, my father was designing on a little square of white paper.”

  • The brand is well placed to move forward as Missoni steps back, the creative director said. “I will always give my support, [but] I’m confident in leaving the collections in the hands of my team… [Missoni is] perfectly fit to go forward in this moment.”

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May 21, 2021
What the NFT Gold Rush Means for Fashion
46:17

The market for digital collectibles is booming, but does it present a real opportunity for brands, or is it just a passing fad?

When a shoe collaboration between design studio RTFKT and digital artist Fewocious netted around $3.1 million earlier this year, the fashion world sat up and paid attention. More than 600 pairs sold out in seven minutes. The shoes were issued as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, unique digital assets authenticated by a digital ledger known as a blockchain. With appetites for unique virtual assets surging, more fashion companies are looking at how they can tap the market; even Rimowa is launching NFTs. But is this a long-term opportunity or just a passing fad?

In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, deputy editor Brian Baskin speaks with Benoit Pagotto, co-founder of RTFKT, Karinna Nobbs, co-CEO of NFT marketplace The Dematerialised, Amber Slooten, co-founder and creative director of digital fashion house The Fabricant and editorial associate M.C. Nanda about ways fashion can tap into the NFT gold rush.

  • Virtual fashion isn’t just about gaming anymore, and that could open up a whole new marketplace for digital skins and on-trend avatars. “Within this new NFT space, people are starting to see the value of digital items,” said Slooten.”You’re able to sort of create that new, endless way of expressing yourself.”

  • The fashion industry has yet to fully tap into the NFT opportunity, and doing so will mean becoming more open to collaborations. “Nobody [is] sharing anything with each other [in fashion] because they’re afraid it’s going to get stolen,” said Slooten.

  • Proponents of NFTs say the recent boom is no flash in the pan, but a mark of a paradigm shift. “This is fundamentally going to change digital ownership, creative structures, the creative economy, how we view money even,” said Nobbs. “This is bigger than the Internet.”

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May 14, 2021
A Masterclass on Leadership With Simon Sinek
54:02

The inspirational speaker and author speaks with Imran Amed about the opportunity for fashion businesses to reset and refocus after the pandemic is behind us.

The upheavals of the last year laid bare long-standing problems with the way the fashion industry operates, but it’s also created opportunities for change and innovation. Business leaders should reflect, reset and rebuild with a focus on their core values and goals, inspirational speaker and author Simon Sinek tells BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed, on this week’s episode of The BoF Podcast.

  • Sinek has written multiple books on the importance of looking beyond “how” and “what” when making business decisions. “Having a sense of why is very grounding; it’s literally a foundation,” said Sinek. “Every single person has their own unique ‘why’… and the rest of our lives offers opportunities to make decisions to stay in balance with that purpose.”

  • As businesses look to a post-pandemic future, they have an opportunity to use the challenges of the last year to reassess and refocus on the values they started with, which often fall by the wayside as businesses scale. “You know you can tell when an organisation loses its way because it becomes obsessed with output… and they lose [the] sense of their own values and if you’re an employee or customer you can feel it,” Sinek said.

  • Leaders are not the only ones who can drive change. “There is no such thing as unicorns and rainbows everyday [at work,] sometimes it’s hard,” said Sinek. “[But] every single one of us has the capacity to be the leader we wish we had.”

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May 07, 2021
Rethinking Fashion’s Approach to the Plus-Size Market
51:26

Fashion brands are upping marketing rhetoric and imagery to include a wider range of body types, but many companies are still failing to serve the plus-size consumer.

The market for plus-size fashion is worth nearly $30 billion in the US alone. But while brands are upping marketing rhetoric and imagery to include a wider range of body types, many companies are still failing to serve the plus-size consumer.

In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, chief correspondent Lauren Sherman speaks with Marie Denee, creator and editor-in-chief of The Curvy Fashionista, Alexandra Waldman, co-founder and creative director of Universal Standard and BoF’s senior editorial associate Alexandra Mondalek about the right way to do plus-size fashion.

  • Plus-size customers want one thing: choice. But too often they’re left sifting through limited ranges that reflect a narrow view of how they should dress. “Give us the same assortment,” Denee said, adding that brands must unlearn tropes about what the industry can offer plus-size consumers.

  • Lazy marketing that co-opts the language of body positivity without really serving plus-size shoppers is also a problem. “We have to learn to speak to a consumer that has been not just ignored, but belittled… it’s an emotional minefield,” said Waldman. “Body positivity is a personal journey.”

  • Companies need to invest in plus-size ranges too, taking the time and spending the cash to perfect fit, style and branding. “You have got to be led by the change and not the money,” explains Waldman.

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May 04, 2021
Shelly Verthime on Alber Elbaz’s Fashion Dreams
46:05

The designer’s teacher turned close collaborator and friend, reflects on how Elbaz communicated his fashion dreams to the world.

 

Ever since the news of Alber Elbaz’s death broke last weekend, the fashion world has been in a collective state of mourning. Many have eulogised and memorialised the designer’s unique ability to make women feel empowered in the clothes designed. But few knew him better than Shelly Verthime, his close friend and collaborator, who first met him as his teacher at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel.

This week on The BoF Podcast, editor-in-chief Imran Amed and editor-at-large Tim Blanks speak with Verthime and reflect on Elbaz’s influence, recounting the highs and lows of his career defining moments.

  • From the beginning of his career, Verthime said Elbaz created a clear path for the steps he wished to take with the industry. “I knew that there was just something so special about him, it was so clear to me where he is going,” she said. “At the time I was his teacher but very, very soon he became my teacher, and then he became [the industry’s] teacher and mentor and friend.”

  • Throughout his career, Elbaz exercised the power of communication as well as creativity. Elbaz was an “original creator, emotional creator but he was a fantastic communicator,” Verthime said. “He knew what works and what doesn’t work for him.”

  • Elbaz was known for his efforts to empower women, dressing them suit to their needs and build their confidence. His close relationship to his mother facilitated his understanding of women as multifaceted. “What he wanted to do was that his clothes would enhance the personality, where you see the face… it was about the woman who would wear it,” said Verthime. “He wanted assertive women [and] he wanted women to love themselves.”

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Apr 30, 2021
Lessons for the Fashion Industry From Alber Elbaz’s Talk at VOICES 2018
25:46

The late designer shared his musings, wisdom and advice for the fashion industry in a talk at BoF VOICES in 2018.

Alber Elbaz, who died aged 59 of Covid-19 over the weekend, was a revered and beloved figure in the fashion industry. The designer, famed for revitalising the fortunes of Lanvin before a dispute with his owner led to his abrupt departure, had just returned to fashion after a five-year hiatus.

He debuted his new venture, AZ Factory, during Paris Couture Week in January. The joint venture with Richemont was designed to reflect a better model for the fashion system, the pressures and strains of which Elbaz knew all too well.

In a heartfelt, funny, thoughtful and poignant address at BoF VOICES in November 2018, Elbaz shared a mix of personal anecdotes, observations and lessons for the fashion industry:

  • Fashion needs to pare back its unfettered production cycle to a level that’s manageable for young designers straining under the “speed of the system,” he said. Elbaz compared the industry’s constant demand for newness to an old recipe that uses too much fat: “Maybe [it’s time] to cut the butter out and make it healthier.”

  • Creative instinct and improvisation are far more valuable than the tech tools that might be available to designers. “Life is full of codes, formulas, databases and algorithms,” said Elbaz. “Overuse of all of those can kill intuition and intuition is the essence of creation. This is the essence of life itself.”

  • There’s more to fashion creation than just empty aspirational content. Long-time muse and client Meryl Streep “said that I never tried to transform her, but I helped her to be a better version of herself,” said Elbaz. “I believe that’s what fashion does best. It’s dreams, but it’s no longer just dreams. It’s also about solutions. It’s also about solving problems with a dream.”

  • Above all, celebrate your audience. “For years, I felt I was hugging people with my clothes,” he said. “I thought that every dress I make would be hugging the woman who is wearing it. Years later, I received all these hugs back from you fashion people.”

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Apr 27, 2021
In Search of Transparency: Fashion’s Data Problem
19:16

Fashion is a notoriously opaque industry. That’s a big problem when the industry is focusing on reducing its negative environmental and social impact.

One of the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry in its efforts to become more responsible and sustainable is bad data. While companies are under increased pressure to provide more information about working conditions and greenhouse gas emissions, the data they share is limited and often of dubious quality. At the BoF Professional Summit: Closing Fashion’s Sustainability Gap, Linda E. Greer, a global fellow at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs and a member of BoF’s Sustainability Council, joined BoF London editor Sarah Kent for a discussion on how fashion’s bad data is affecting its sustainability efforts.

  • Companies often lack oversight into their own supply chains, preventing labour conditions and environmental impact from being properly recorded or addressed. Full supply chain transparency is critical for companies to trace and collect data.

  • This opacity also allows companies to avoid accountability for working conditions and the environmental footprint of their sprawling global supply chains. “There is a level at which the lack of transparency is working for these companies, because it allows them to perpetuate the status quo,” said Greer.

  • Stricter regulation would force companies to do more, but in its absence Greer recommends companies start by looking at emissions from their manufacturing base. “If you’re not doing that, you’re just not in the game,” said Greer.

 

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Apr 23, 2021
Devising a New Social Contract for Fashion’s Garment Workers
31:46

Fashion has routinely failed the millions of people who make its clothes. What should the industry do to create systemic change?

 

Over the past year, the pandemic has laid bare — and worsened — the stark inequality, financial insecurity and poor working conditions endemic to the global garment industry. This has been driven by years of voluntary self-regulation, outsourced labour, and the pursuit of maximum profits by brands and retailers.

At the BoF Professional Summit: Closing Fashion’s Sustainability Gap, BoF London editor Sarah Kent was joined by Ayesha Barenblat, founder and chief executive of Remake; Ritu Sethi, founder-trustee, Craft Revival Trust and editor, Global InCH; and Anannya Bhattacharjee, international coordinator, Asia Floor Wage Alliance, to discuss how the global fashion industry is failing its garment makers, and what needs to change.

  • Many of the challenges facing the garment industry today are systemic. “The business model, whether luxury or mass market, is set to exploit people,” said Barenblat, also noting that it is mostly women of colour “who make our clothes and bring our fashion to life.”

  • Bhattacharjee said brands need to redress the “extreme imbalance of power” with their suppliers by paying the actual cost of production, producing goods in an environmentally sustainable way, and moving away from the industry’s reliance on overproduction and overconsumption. It is also crucial that brands make good on their commitments to support freedom of association in factories, she added.

  • While the global fashion industry benefits from widespread deregulation, mounting consumer engagement is proving a powerful force for increased accountability. “Consumerism is changing, and I think for the first time we actually have the right period where we can change the discourse from the consumer’s point of view,” said Sethi. Indeed, said Bhattacharjee, “this is a time of opportunity and radical change.”

 

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Apr 20, 2021
Stella McCartney on the Business of Sustainable Design
26:14

The pioneering designer spoke to BoF’s Imran Amed about continuing to push the envelope for sustainable luxury at the BoF Professional Summit: Closing Fashion’s Sustainability Gap.

British designer Stella McCartney has been an advocate and pioneer for sustainability long before it became an industry buzzword. But she is still developing new ways to work. More recently that’s included experiments with leather-like material made with mycelium — or mushroom root structures — and efforts to use cotton and wool sourced from regenerative farms, which restore the health and biodiversity of the land instead of purely extracting from it.

”It’s very simple but today it seems very radical, and really it could be the future of fashion,” she told BoF editor in chief Imran Amed in a keynote address at the BoF Professional Summit: Closing Fashion’s Sustainability Gap. McCartney also shared the compromises she has to make as a designer to work within the parameters of sustainable materials and low-waste production methods and what it will take for the wider industry to wake up to its imperative to change:

  • Consumer pressure and better regulation will be key for the fashion industry to make changes that are urgently needed. “I don’t think we can rely on our industry to commit to this, as much as we can rely on tomorrow’s customers insisting that this is the only thing they’re going to invest in,” she said. “The only way truly to have significant change in the timeline that we have is for policies to be set into place, for there to be legislation.”

  • When LVMH took a minority stake in her brand in 2019, McCartney took on a role advising the luxury conglomerate’s CEO Bernard Arnault on sustainability. “The reality with Monsieur Arnault is that he would never have invested in a brand like mine if he didn’t think that this was the future,” she said. “I think it gives off a huge message of positivity for the industry.”

  • For the crop of young designers looking to work sustainably, McCartney has some sage advice: value collaboration and mutual learning over competition; “be a fighter” when it comes to securing better incentives for sustainable practices; and always look for new information on how to be better. “You never stop learning when you work sustainably,” she said.

 

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Apr 16, 2021
The New Model for Building DTC Brands
12:55

A new generation of direct-to-consumer brands like Topicals and Parade are finding success with a powerful community-based approach to marketing.

In a fashion and beauty market packed with look-alike labels, a new generation of digitally native direct-to-consumer brands are adopting a new playbook, pushing bolder messages and aesthetics starting with their key differentiator: community. Skincare brand Topicals and lingerie label Parade have turned celebrating their customers’ skin issues and body shapes that don’t conform to traditional ideals of beauty into a powerful and authentic marketing centrepiece.

In this episode of the BoF Podcast, Topicals’ co-founders Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng and Parade’s co-founder and chief executive Cami Téllez speak with BoF senior editorial associate Alexandra Mondalek on the power of community and the new direct-to-consumer model.

  • The new generation of community-focused DTC brands are abandoning the increasingly standardised marketing playbook that has resulted in a proliferation of identical-looking “blands.” Instead, they’re finding new ways to identify with their customer base.  “We now know that branding is about creatively finding where [the customer] is and centring around reintroducing the customer to self-expression,” Téllez explains.

  • Consumers particularly respond to products that speak to their issues in a way that’s relatable and fun. Digitally native brands have often made the consumer experience “quite sterile and bland and their product experience was lacklustre,” says Topicals’ Olowe. Instead Topicals is  “celebrating the fun of flare ups.”

  • Authenticity is key to building community with the new generation of DTC brands utilising their founders’ stories to speak about their products as customers too. Topicals brings “a different perspective to the way that people experience the beauty community… [and] speaking authentically with our community in a different kind of way,” Teng says.

 

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Apr 13, 2021
10 Retail Archetypes for the Post-Pandemic Era
19:26

As retail stores begin to re-open this summer after a year of lockdown, Doug Stephens shares strategies for post-pandemic success from his new book, Resurrecting Retail.

 

Retail’s Darwinian shakeout over the last year has consolidated market power in the hands of dominant e-commerce players. But a brand, even if small, can still be mighty. The key is focus and finding a relevant niche, Doug Stephens said at VOICES 2020, previewing his new book, Resurrecting Retail, out on April 13.”

In the post-pandemic retail era, purpose will be the new positioning,” Stephens said. “What will be your brand’s reason for existing?” he asked.Stephens outlines 10 reasons why retail should exist in 2021 and beyond, from product education to activism.

  • “I see Covid-19 not as a mere accelerator, I see it as a threshold,” said Stephens. “As a unique wormhole in time where society as a whole is being pulled out of the industrial era and across the threshold of the digital age.” Though 2020 was challenging for a lot of retail companies, it has made the big ones like Amazon, Alibaba, JD.com and Walmart even stronger and better prepared to capture more of the global retail economy.

  • Brands must think about purpose: what is the question your brand answers? Companies that succeed in the marketplace do this well. “When we buy Nike products, we’re buying a cultural point of view, and Nike answers a very specific consumer question. The question, of course, is ‘Who inspires me?’” Stephens said.

  • In the post-pandemic world, the media will no longer be just the message. “Every form of media now, that the consumer has exposure to, is no longer simply a call out to go to the store,” Stephens said. “Every form of media must be the store.”

 

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Apr 09, 2021
Rethinking the Fashion Rental Model for the Post-Pandemic Era
18:36

Rent the Runway chief executive Jennifer Hyman shares her strategy for making the fashion rental model work as retail, restaurants and workplaces slowly begin to re-open.

 

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The pandemic was a near-death experience for Rent the Runway, the business that introduced and popularised renting fashion on a wide scale in the United States. As consumers stopped heading to offices and events, chief executive Jennifer Hyman was left wondering: “Will my business still be relevant after Covid?” The executive had to make difficult decisions, fast, laying off and furloughing staff and cutting spending.”

As a leader, that was for sure the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do,” Hyman told BoF’s Lauren Sherman at VOICES 2020, describing it as “the second founding moment of the company.”

Now, as retail, restaurants and workplaces slowly begin to re-open, the company is betting on a post-pandemic shift in consumer values that couples a desire for more sustainable consumption with a “hedonistic” environment of “worldwide euphoria,” Hyman said.

 

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Apr 06, 2021
A Crash Course on The BoF Sustainability Index
34:43

BoF’s London editor Sarah Kent and editor-in-chief Imran Amed delve into The BoF Sustainability Index, measuring fashion’s progress towards avoiding catastrophic climate change and achieving broader social imperatives by 2030.

Fashion’s negative impact on people and the planet is in focus like never before. Pressure to change is coming from investors, consumers, regulators and even inside big brands themselves. Companies are responding with high-profile commitments to do better. But are they actually making a difference?

In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, London editor Sarah Kent and editor-in-chief Imran Amed discuss The BoF Sustainability Index, an in-depth analysis of how 15 of fashion’s largest companies measure up on sustainability.

  • The fashion industry has an important role to play in tackling global sustainability challenges, both because of its impact and its influence. “Fashion often flies under the radar,” explains Kent. “[But] it has power to really change people’s views and behaviours and drive a shift that other industries cannot so easily engage in.”

  • Overall, BoF’s analysis found that the big companies’ commitments are outpacing action. “Some [companies] are leading the pack and some are just getting started, but overall things are not changing fast enough.”

  • While the pandemic remains an immediate crisis for the industry, the climate crisis is increasingly in focus ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference due to take place in Glasgow later this year. “I think what is pretty well established now is the direction of travel that is needed,” says Kent. “What we need to start seeing is the strategies that are going to get us there. Where are the investments going to be made?”

 

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Apr 02, 2021
The Multi-Versal Self and the Rise of Virtual Fashion
20:54
  Billions of people across the world call themselves gamers. And as gaming technology improves and increasingly acts as an extension of the real world, it’s becoming a prime market for fashion brands. BoF's Imran Amed talks to Herman Narula, co-founder and CEO of Improbable to learn more.   Gaming is often synonymous with entertainment. But Herman Narula, co-founder and chief executive of Improbable, a London-based gaming company, says that’s a misconception — games dominate all kinds of culture. Footballers perform dances that happened first on Fortnight, and gamer verbiage like “level up” is now used in human resources initiatives.   Now, Narula says, the multiplayer games people play have become part of their social lives. Gaming is no longer just entertainment, but a space for experiences and learning lessons. Further, with the growth of gaming, Narula predicts we will see the rise of the multiversal self: people will no longer have just one identity, but many distinct selves within the various game worlds they occupy.   On the latest edition of the BoF podcast, BoF’s Imran Amed chats with Narula about how the notion multi-versal self is driving the rise of virtual fashion, and how brands can position themselves to thrive in the space.
  • People who start playing games typically don’t ever stop — even as they shift life stages. “The primary reason people remain engaged and keep playing games, especially online and social games, boils down to three key motivations: a desire to be more competent at something, a need to relate to other people, and a desire to self-express,” Narula said.
  • Games are no longer just something people do to pass the time, and that has consequences related to their real-world significance. “Games are something that the majority of gamers are seeking out doing, and avoiding other activities to go and do, and beginning to contest other forms of spending,” Narula said. “That means that they are where culture is going to be born.”
  • The opportunity for fashion is real. “I think [gaming] will become not merely a place for brands to go, but a place in which brands will be born, a place in which first class cultural ideas will emerge and begin to populate other aspects of how our society works,” Narula said. But, he warned customers will be able to see through superficial engagement with gaming, so brands must find a way to  authentically engage in order to not cheapen the experience of their brand in either realm — the real world or the gaming world.

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Mar 30, 2021
Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in Fashion
53:31

BoF’s Imran Amed talks with Michelle Lee, Susanna Lau and Phillip Lim about the intersectional issues and structural barriers at the core of Anti-Asian hate, and how the fashion professionals can be better allies.

A recent wave of violence directed toward Asian Americans — exacerbated by the hateful dialogue propagated by Donald Trump amid the pandemic — has brought anti-Asian racism to the forefront of global conversation. The issues facing Asian people are unique — for one, the term “Asian” represents a diverse group of people often clumped into a monolith that neglects to recognise nuances in culture and history. And racism against Asians often doesn’t culminate in easily-identifiable signs or symbols, sometimes making it difficult to spot from the outside. But, it’s pervasive, and has real, lived consequences.

On the latest BoF podcast, BoF’s Imran Amed spoke with designer Phillip Lim, Michelle Lee, the editor in chief of Allure and British journalist Susanna Lau about their experiences being Asian in fashion, examining painful stereotypes and learning on how fashion professionals can be better allies.

  • Anti-Asian racism is not new, but Lau believes it has become an unavoidable topic in 2021 because of the visceral nature of the images and videos coming from social media. “Everyone has these stories pertaining back to their past but they were sporadic… because they were sporadic you would bury them, and then they would come up again, but you would bury them again. And then the cycle repeats itself,” Lau said.

  • Often, Chinese people are conflated with the growing superpower that is the country of China, ignoring the fact that many Asians live below the poverty line and often face racial bias. “When it comes to public sentiment, I think it boils down to whether or not the mainstream thinks that there is a group that is oppressed,” Lee said. “Ultimately, unfortunately for Asians because of the ‘model minority’ myth, people don’t think that we’re oppressed, and they think that racism against Asians doesn’t exist.”

  • Lim acknowledged that while brands are no longer silent, they need to be thoughtful in speaking out, looking for talent and trying to foster change. “Lend us your microphone, lend us your platform, but don’t speak for us. Let us speak for ourselves,” Lim said.

External clips courtesy of BBC News, Al Jazeera English and NBC News.

 

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Mar 26, 2021
Sterling Ruby on His Boundary-Bending Work in Art and Fashion
55:43
In the latest edition of the BoF podcast, Tim Blanks talks with the artist, designer and first American in over a decade to present at Paris haute couture week.   Even though he’s worked with Raf Simons at Calvin Klein and runs his own brand, SR. STUDIO. LA. CA., Sterling Ruby is perhaps still known primarily for his art: multidisciplinary work that often deals in dripping urethane sculptures, illusory canvases, and handmade ceramics. But on the heels of his Paris haute couture presentation in February over zoom, Ruby is becoming a force in the industry. So much so, that editor at large Tim Blanks asks him whether he would like to become a certifiable “fashion tycoon” in the near future.On the latest edition of the BoF podcast, Blanks sits down with Ruby to talk about fashion, Ruby’s future, and the blurred boundaries between his art and his clothes.
  • Ruby’s work is distinctly American, drawing on the nation’s history of puritanism and violence, wickedness and hope. That was present in his work with Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, and still reverberates through it today. “I always walked away feeling like I’d seen an echo of Stephen king or something. It was a very particular view of America,” Blanks said.
  • When asked to present at Paris haute couture week, Ruby and his team were skeptical about how they fit into the implied status, standards, and rules of couture. “We decided to kind of think about couture as our version of something made by hand.” Ruby said. “Maybe it was unique, maybe it was something that was strictly made in the studio, and that’s how it kind of came about. We justified it by kind of thinking that this is our version of couture.”
  • Ruby’s interest in fashion traces back to his youth in the conservative town of New Freedom, Pennsylvania, where dressing became a form of both rebellion and therapy.“I was very obsessed with clothes when I was thirteen, and the kind of power of clothes, and interrogation you would get because you were wearing something very particular in an environment where you weren’t supposed to, and I love that,” Ruby said. “I just didn’t realise that’s probably what the heart of fashion is.”

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Mar 23, 2021
The Year That Changed the World
31:05

A year after coronavirus lockdowns swept the world, BoF’s Imran Amed looks back at a period of sweeping change in conversation with leading voices from inside and outside fashion.

Last March, when the Covid-19 virus that had already swept across China was officially declared a global pandemic, few grasped the extent to which the fashion industry stood on the precipice of a paradigm-shifting year, but everyone seemed to understand that this was an opportunity for great change. Amid lockdowns and social distancing measures, stores were forced to close, sales plummeted, and shocks were felt across the supply chain as garment factories were shut down around the world. Across societies, stark economic inequalities were laid bare and exacerbated by the crisis. Millions of people across all industries and professions lost their jobs; millions more lost their lives.

From virtual fashion weeks to the booms in e-commerce and sweatpants, the fashion industry learned how to adapt to the “new normal” — and fast. Many saw an opportunity to reset a broken fashion system and build a more sustainable, inclusive way of operating. But the last year has also underscored deeper failings within the industry. While the pandemic has underscored broad social inequalities, fashion has had to grapple with its role in perpetuating racism and elitism — from boardrooms to magazine pages and contributing to a looming climate crisis.

In this week’s episode of The BoF Podcast, we reflect on the events of the year gone by, a period of sweeping change, uncertainty and hope in conversations with leading voices from inside and outside the industry.

 

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Mar 19, 2021
Somali Supermodel Iman on the Struggle for Representation in Fashion
53:06

The Black model and entrepreneur speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about paving the way for a more inclusive fashion industry — and the work that remains to be done.

 

Iman stands out as a trailblazer in the fashion industry. She was one of the first Black models to star on the catwalk and followed her modelling career with a successful cosmetics business designed for women of colour. While she helped pave the way for more representation, she also experienced first hand the racism and discrimination that persists within the industry today.

In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Iman speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about her experiences and the work that still needs to be done to address the problem.

  • The supermodel credits her mother’s empowering vision of self-worth for enabling her to navigate a tricky industry. “[Self-worth] is what [my mother] heavily instilled in me to be able to walk away from anything that doesn’t serve you well regardless [of] how enticing it is,” she said. “Whether it’s a man or work or whatever it is … I would always make the right decision for myself if I had a sense of self-worth.”

  • Iman has achieved stellar success and helped pave the way for greater representation throughout the industry, but throughout her career, she’s had to work harder than her peers to secure her place. “Most of the time makeup artists had no clue how to do our makeup,” says Iman. “Forget about hair, that is why most of the pictures you will see [Black women’s] hair is just pulled back because [stylists] didn’t know what to do with it.”

  • Iman remains actively involved in efforts to tackle racism in the industry through The Black Girls Coalition, a pressure group she co-founded with close friend Bethann Hardison to highlight the lack of representation in the fashion industry. “It’s a learning experience because you just have to manoeuvre and find your place in this system [as a Black woman and model.]”

 

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Mar 16, 2021
The Business of the British Monarchy: What Happens Now?
29:40

On Sunday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — also known as Harry and Meghan — rocked the world when they revealed intimate details about their experiences in the British royal family and their decision to step back as ‘senior members’ in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. What they revealed in the interview has left not just the UK and the Commonwealth reeling, but challenged the entire world’s perception of the monarchy. BoF’s Imran Amed sat down with Elizabeth Holmes, a New York Times bestselling author, notable ‘royal watcher’ and style expert to contextualise the conversation with Winfrey and what it means for the future of royal fashion.

”When Princess Diana left the Royal Family, she made it very clear she did not need fashion in the same way, because she was able to use her own voice… And I think Meghan — now in her move to California — definitely doesn’t need it either,” Holmes said. “She will still continue to use it and promote brands that she believes in and has connections to, but when you can use your voice, you’re not relying on your fashion to talk for you.”

 

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External clips courtesy of Today, India Today, Sky News Australia, CPAC, Good Morning Britain, Harpo Productions/CBS, and CTV News.

 

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Mar 12, 2021
Norma Kamali on Rebelliousness, Creativity and How She Made a Lasting Business
01:00:20

After the release of her new book, I Am Invincible, designer Norma Kamali sat down with BoF’s chief correspondent Lauren Sherman to talk about the inception of her brand, its evolving purpose and plan, creativity and ageing.

Norma Kamali has always been a conversation starter. Her timeless sleeping bag coats were favourites of Studio 54 bodyguards (as well as aspiring partygoers looking to gain their favour), and now serve as a comforting hug around the shoulders of chilly outdoor diners across the US. She also speaks out regularly on the noxiousness of the fashion system — particularly when it comes to the objectification and policing of women’s bodies.

In the latest episode of the BoF podcast, Kamali takes us back to a time when she hated fashion for its pinned-up restrictiveness, and how London’s rebelliousness rejuvenated her. The designer also unpacks the barriers she had to overcome when creating a fashion line with endurance.

  • Kamali sees her mission as much wider than just designing women’s clothes. In her new book, I Am Invincible, she writes about her overarching goal of understanding life and love, and giving women a map of how to age with power. “I put everything into it because I also know my purpose is to service women, and I knew that the day I recognised I found my dream job,” Kamali said.

  • Throughout her career, Kamali prioritised her independence and being able to “have a creative life,” which informed how she grew her business — notably, she was selective when it came to partnerships and expansion. “It wasn’t easy,” she said. “There were a lot of very scary crying on my pillow nights of trying to figure out ‘How do I make this work without having people who are working for me feel nervous or anxious?’ And I found ways.”

  • Still, Kamali was open to unexpected collaborations. In 2008, she released a line with Walmart that allowed both partners to tap into new markets and grow their customer bases. For Kamali, the partnership changed the way she thought about her business’s future. “I realised the power of e-commerce, and that’s when I transformed my company totally into an e-commerce company … and I will tell you, this year I’m so happy I made that decision back then because that’s how you make it through a year like we just had.”

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Mar 09, 2021
Unraveling Kering’s Investment in Vestiaire Collective
33:22

Vestiaire Collective’s chief executive Max Bittner opens up about the resale platform’s big deal with the French luxury group.

 

This week, a new €178 million round of financing put Vestiaire Collective’s valuation above $1 billion and gave it a high-profile new partner in the form of Kering, one of the world’s leading luxury groups. Having acquired a 5 percent stake in the Paris-based resale company, Kering joined investors like Condé Nast, French private equity firm Eurazeo and tech-focused investment firm Tiger Global Management.

Though resale has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks to the growth of platforms like Vestiaire Collective, luxury brands have been reticent to get involved. Kering’s investment marks a notable shift in attitude.

In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Vestiaire Collectives’s chief executive, Max Bittner, sits down with BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed, to explain why Kering invested in the company and what that investment means for the company’s future, and why he believes the resale market is an exciting and fast-expanding sector.

”This is not a short term trend,” said Bittner. “This is something consumers are looking for. This is something especially young consumers are expecting from the brands they want to endorse. So, I think both us and the brands are realising consumers expect us.”

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Mar 05, 2021
José Neves Unpacks the Farfetch-Alibaba-Richemont Partnership
22:15

The Farfetch founder and chief executive and Alibaba Group president J. Michael Evans discuss the industry-changing deal designed to dominate luxury e-commerce.

 

Alibaba Group president J. Michael Evans and Farfetch founder José Neves take BoF’s editor-in-chief Imran Amed behind-the-scenes of the industry-changing joint venture between Alibaba, Farfetch and Richemont at VOICES 2020, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers.

The biggest appeal for all three parties? A shared vision of the importance of technology and omnichannel retail.

”We think as tech businesses, we’re not retailers,” Neves said. “We’re at the service of the best brands, the best retailers and we’re here to enable the industry… and this is open to everyone.”

 

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Mar 02, 2021
Three Designers In Search of Digital Beauty
38:41

This week on The BoF Podcast, editor-in-chief Imran Amed speaks with Saul Nash, Stephen Jones and Roksanda Ilinčić about how to tell compelling fashion stories amid the pandemic.

Another season of mostly virtual fashion weeks have helped fashion films to become an increasingly popular tool for designers to create an elaborate narrative out of their collections off the catwalk. These new, online-first presentations have forced designers to think creatively and push storytelling further in order to emotionally connect with audiences.

But as with any emerging phenomenon, there’s still much to learn. In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, designers Saul Nash, Stephen Jones and Roksanda Ilinčić, and BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks, delve into the dynamics of digital comunication and how to stand out with a meaningful story.

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Related Articles: London’s Creativity Lights Up Dark Times Stephen Jones Says the Constant Quest for Perfection Often Kills Spontaneity Roksanda and Richard Quinn Bring Art to Their Fashion

Feb 26, 2021
How Virgil Abloh Is Lifting Up Fashion’s Next Generation of Creatives
58:47

The designer speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about his latest collection, making change and the importance of elevating the next generation of fashion creatives.

 

When Virgil Abloh first broke into fashion he remembers feeling like a tourist. The designer began his career in architecture and says he struggled to find his place in an industry of insiders. But after three years at the helm of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, the Off-White founder is now very much part of the establishment. In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Abloh speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about his hopes of paving the way to a more democratic and inclusive industry for the younger generation and why he’s launched a TV station.

The designer is increasingly focused on lifting up the next generation of young designers, conscious of his responsibility to open up the industry. Last year, he raised $1 million to launch the “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund for Black students.

 

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Feb 23, 2021
The Future of New York Fashion Week
31:20

This week on The BoF Podcast, designer Jason Wu and BoF’s senior correspondent Chantal Fernandez examine the evolving purpose of runway shows and what New York Fashion Week might look like after the pandemic.

Fashion Week looks very different this season, with most designers choosing to present their collections through digital lookbooks and short films instead of traditional runway shows. But even after the pandemic subsides, New York Fashion Week isn’t likely to revert to its prior form. As BoF senior correspondent Chantal Fernandez reported in a BoF Professional article last week, the “unbundling” of New York Fashion Week has been happening for years.

”What worked 10, 15 years ago, doesn’t work today,” designer Jason Wu told BoF’s Imran Amed on this week’s podcast. “The backbone of American fashion has always been about diversifying and being less traditional in its approach in what luxury and what fashion looks like.”

”Fashion week has become something of a different creature, but that happened long before the pandemic,” he added. “I feel like it’s my job to keep part of it alive, even though it’s forever changing.”

 

External clip courtesy of Fashion By Look - Eleanor Lambert: Defining Decades of Fashion

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Feb 19, 2021
How Independent Fashion Brands Are Navigating the Crisis
24:45

BoF’s Imran Amed discusses transparency, cooperation and disruption with Dries Van Noten, Anya Hindmarch and Stefano Martinetto, leaders of two early pandemic initiatives — The Forum and Rewiring Fashion — to share thinking on the role of independent fashion brands and retailers amidst the biggest crisis in the history of the modern fashion industry.

The fashion industry has long been operating in a cyclically inefficient and anti-creative way. Issues like waste, early discounts, power imbalances and a suboptimal, wholesale-controlled calendar hurt brands at every level, as well as consumers.

But when the Covid-19 pandemic prompted lockdowns around the world in early 2020, the industry was put on pause. In response, two initiatives, Forum and the BoF-facilitated Rewiring Fashion, emerged to make this period one of retrospection and discussion in hopes of bringing about systematic change.

In the latest episode of Inside Fashion, which features a conversation from VOICES 2020, BoF’s Imran Amed sits down with Van Noten, as well as Anya Hindmarch and Stefano Martinetto, co-founder and chief executive of Tomorrow London to discuss the lessons the industry has learned during the pandemic and how that new perspective will shape its future.

  • Candour has never been one of the industry’s priorities or strengths, which has hampered progress in the past. Hindmarch emphasises that there is a power to coming together. “You solve problems by not just thinking about yourself but collaborating as an industry,” she said.

  • Thanks to the rise of e-commerce and the convenience economy, storytelling is more important than ever for luxury brands. “Just showing clothes and that’s it, forget it. That’s not going to work anymore… I think we have to offer different things,” said Van Noten. “We have to tell a story to show why the clothes are more expensive than high street labels, you have to give the whole package of support to people who come to the store.”

  • Wholesale retail is changing — hopefully, to allow more space for creativity and development of strong products. Hindmarch thinks that wholesalers still have an important, localised role that helps designers connect with their buyers in a personal way. Martinetto believes shifts are for the better. He said: “The notion that wholesale is dying is most appropriately defined as ‘bad wholesale is dying.’”

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Feb 16, 2021
Racism and Inequality Are Stitched Into the Garments We Wear
31:42

This week, Doug Stephens speaks with Kalkidan Legesse and Robert Hoppenheim about the imperative for fashion to take responsibility for the people it impacts.

 

The pandemic’s economic impact is radically changing the retail landscape, but for fashion, the fallout is not just financial. The crisis has amplified anger over racial injustice and financial inequality among consumers and employees, redoubling pressure on brands to adjust their operations to serve both shareholders and the greater good. Increasingly, companies must respond to demands for change from outside the boardroom.

In this week’s podcast, retail columnist Doug Stephens discusses how the fashion industry must address the systemic inequality and racism buried in its supply chain with the co-founder of UK-based ethical brand and retailer Sancho’s, Kalkidan Legesse, and the founder of brand strategy and communications advisory Kindustry, Robert Hoppenheim.

 

External clips courtesy of BBC, NBC Latino,  and CGTN. 

 

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Feb 12, 2021
Kim Jones on the Making of Air Dior
17:21

The artistic director of Dior Men who is now also leading the women's collections at Fendi, speaks with BoF’s Imran Amed about the enduring power of youth and desire and the making of the Air Dior shoe.

Designer Kim Jones went from being a teenager with joint custody over one pair of on-sale Jordan 5s with three friends to creating one of the most sought after shoes in the world by bringing together three iconic brands: Nike, Jordan and Dior. To create the Dior X Air Jordan, which dropped mid-pandemic in June of 2020, he took the Jordan 1 silhouette, applied Dior’s leather and Italian techniques and infused it all with Michael Jordan’s personal cool-guy style.The much-hyped, $2,200 shoe sold out in minutes after being released online. Soon after, the shoes were spotted being resold for as much as $12,000 on StockX.In this conversation from VOICES 2020, Jones covers everything from ethical consumption to the enduring power of youth and desire.  

  • Young people influence the way Jones thinks about his designs. He invites his god children and children of friends over to watch them dissect his wardrobe, listening carefully to what they have to say. “Young people are learning they want to buy less, and things that last longer,” Jones said.
  • Buying vintage, handing things down through generations, and luxury all tie together for Jones. “The thing about luxury that I like is it’s clothes that are built to last and there’s not that many made of things,” he said. “I care about the world a lot so it’s something I do consider that there’s not much waste. We don’t have tons of stuff left over.”
  • The streetwear-meets-luxury space has exploded in the last few years. Jones sees it as a mix of comfort and easiness that fit in with modern daily life. His go-to is tailored pants and jackets with knitwear or a jersey piece. “When you’re working quite often, when it’s with your hands it’s easy,” he said.
  • He advises aspiring designers and other young creatives to think less about status and more about fulfilment. “Never think about the money, think about doing the job. Work hard,” he said. “Don’t think about social media, think about the actual reality. Just get on with it, and ask questions. I ask questions all the time and that’s why I’ve learned so much.”

     

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Feb 09, 2021
Dissecting the Rise, Fall and Future of Topshop
28:39

A new era for Topshop is about to begin. On Monday, digital fashion retailer Asos purchased the high-street label, along with sister brands Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT, for £295 million ($403 million). The deal ended months of speculation about Topshop’s future after parent Arcadia Group fell into administration last November, as BoF senior editorial associate Tamison O’Connor reported in a BoF Professional article breaking down why Asos needs Topshop.

“It’s been very sad for me to see them go through what they’ve been through in the last few months,” retail veteran and former Topshop brand director Jane Shepherdson told BoF editor-in-chief Imran Amed on this week’s podcast.

Shepherdson discusses her time at Topshop when it was at the height of its success, the internal and external forces that caused the brand’s demise, before O’Connor weighs in on what the future might hold for the brand under Asos’ ownership.

  • Topshop’s decline was a long-time coming, Shepherdson said, reflecting on her time at the brand. She joined Arcadia as a young graduate and worked her way up the ranks as a buyer, spearheading Topshop’s transformation into a fashion destination. But she left the company in 2006 as Philip Green, who bought Arcadia Group in 2002, became more involved in the business. “He was an asset stripper, more than anything else. He bought businesses, and then sold them again,” she said. “My philosophy was that you would make sure that you designed and bought something that was so amazing that no one would be able to resist it.”

 

  • Asos’ ambition to capitalise on the newly acquired Arcadia brands and customer databases will depend on establishing a strong and independent identities for Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT on the Asos platform, O’Connor said.

 

  • O’Connor goes on to explain how the British high street’s transformation into a largely online market has been accelerated by the pandemic, having brought long-struggling British retailers like Debenhams and Arcadia Group to their knees.

     

 

Related Articles:

Why Asos Needs Topshop

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The Rise and Fall of Topshop: What Went Wrong

   

 

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Feb 05, 2021
How Fashion Can Leverage the Audio Appeal of Clubhouse
21:18

At VOICES 2020. Paul Davison and Virgil Abloh discussed the audio-only social network’s potential impact in the fashion industry with BoF’s Imran Amed.

While the influence of Clubhouse has been growing in the power corridors of Silicon Valley for almost one year, the audio-only social network officially hit the mainstream this month, having grown to more than 2 million users and closed a funding round valuing the business at $1.4 billion. Then, on Monday, none other than Elon Musk made a surprise appearance on Clubhouse, driving global news coverage of his impromptu conversation with Robinhood’s co-founder, Vladimir Tenev, about the remarkable rise in value of Gamestop shares driven by passionate Reddit users.

But what could the rise of Clubhouse mean for fashion? In December, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer Paul Davison made his first public speaking appearance at BoF VOICES alongside Virgil Abloh to discuss the power of creating a space to listen and learn — and how the fashion industry can get involved.

“All the conversations that I’ve hosted or been a part of on Clubhouse related to fashion in a weird way have been more in-depth than interviews or regular-format media,” Abloh said. “It’s an interesting case study making sure brands have something to say when you can’t escape to creating an image.”

 

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Feb 02, 2021
Alber Elbaz on Making His Return to Fashion
53:56

The celebrated designer talks to BoF’s Imran Amed about fashion’s new digital landscape and the launch of AZ Factory during Haute Couture Week.

The timing of Alber Elbaz’s return to fashion is apt. After a five-year hiatus following his departure from Lanvin in 2015, the designer debuted his new venture AZ Factory this week. The philosophy underpinning the label, a partnership with Richemont, is to tackle fashion’s challenges of excess, irrelevance and exclusivity with technology, focus and innovation.In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, editor-in-chief Imran Amed and Elbaz discuss how the designer fell back in love with fashion why it is necessary to slow the pace of the industry.
  • AZ Factory was born out of Elbaz’s disillusionment with the fashion world. His goal is to bring greater transparency to the design process and a more inclusive feel to customers. His first collection runs from size XS to XXXL. “We always have to remember again and again that this is 2021. How do women live, what do they need, how can I give them what they need?” said Elbaz. “It is taking all this information and processing it and then [giving my] take on it.”
  • The label made a digital debut at Paris couture week with a fashion film. Elbaz said the restrictions created by the pandemic were both a creative challenge and opportunity. “I cannot tell you that it was always easy” Elbaz said. “The night before we air[ed] the film I was still working in editing and looking and changing the music.”
  • One outcome of fashion’s current crisis that the designer is fully onboard with is the move towards a slower pace. Elbaz is increasingly focusing on new and innovative fabrics that require time to fully understand from a design perspective. “I cannot do it every couple of weeks so I know that I will have to keep [it to] two projects [at a time],” said Elbaz.

 

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Inside Alber Elbaz’s Return to Fashion

Couture in the Time of Covid-19: Realism or Fantasy?

The BoF Podcast: Alber Elbaz Is a ‘Zoombie’ Now

   

 

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Jan 29, 2021
Rick Owens on Drawing Inspiration From Imperfection
58:45

The American designer speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about his latest collection, born from ‘anger and darkness,’ and why limitations often make way for creative ingenuity.

 

The location of Rick Owens latest show is a reflection of the ongoing sense of global loss as the death toll from Covid-19 continues to rise. The designer’s new men’s collection was presented at Tempio Votivo, a shrine to the fallen soldiers of the two world wars. The collection, Owens tells BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks, was born out of “anger and darkness,” despite a fresh sense of optimism brought about by Joe Biden’s recent inauguration.In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Owens and Blanks discuss the many references that informed the American designer’s new collection and why imperfection is central to his pursuit of creativity.
  • The show, although full of music and models, was without a live audience, a move that turned the presentation into “personal ritual,” Owens said. “We are doing it for ourselves… Some of the people [I’m working with] have been with me for 18 years. For us to be able to nurture and develop the collection to this point together, we’ve never fully done that before. It’s been this great bonding exercise.”
  • For Owens, lockdown life has not deviated far from his pre-pandemic routine. “I don’t participate or circulate in the world as much as most people do,” he said. But the social restrictions have reminded him that limitations can be central to creative ingenuity. “I like the idea of working within small boundaries,” he told Blanks. “I like the idea of doing the best with what you’ve got.”
  • References for Owens’ work include the Bible, the Rocky Horror Show and S&M, as well as his own imperfections and personal experience of manhood. “My men’s runway shows are always about men’s flaws, and about men’s worst urges because they’re autobiographical,” he said. “When I’m thinking about men, I’m thinking about my own experience. And my own experience is very critical.”
Related Articles: Rick Owens: Control and Abandon Tim Blanks’ Top Fashion Shows of All-Time: Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2014, September 26, 2013 What Fashion Wants From a Biden Presidency       To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.  

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Jan 26, 2021
What Extended Lockdowns and Slow Vaccine Distribution Mean for the Fashion Business
33:53

BoF’s Imran Amed and McKinsey’s Achim Berg discuss what the fashion industry can expect as the world continues to battle Covid-19.

With coronavirus cases surging in most of Europe, extended lockdowns show no immediate sign of easing, while in the US ongoing political and social unrest is set against a backdrop of widespread Covid-19 infections. For fashion, the repercussions will be felt for years to come, but the extent of the impact will largely depend on the handling of such crises over the course of the next year.In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, BoF editor-in-chief Imran Amed and Achim Berg, global leader of McKinsey’s apparel, fashion and luxury group, discuss the key trends laid out in BoF and McKinsey’s joint annual report, The State of Fashion 2021, in light of recent developments.
  • While experts had warned that the winter months would be challenging, super-spreading virus mutations in Brazil, South Africa and the UK have further complicated matters. “It’s fair to say that we expected lockdowns, we expected restrictions, but we didn’t expect them that early, and we didn’t expect them to take that long,” said Berg, adding that these developments might indicate a slower-than-anticipated recovery for fashion.
  • The closing of physical retail and low consumer confidence has hit retailers both with and without e-commerce hard. “Even if online is growing at 50 percent, you cannot compensate for physical retail,” said Berg. But it’s not all bad news. “The moment things normalise, I think people want to have the shopping experience again,” he added.
  • Stores reliant on tourists for a large portion of their sales are reeling from losses as flights stay grounded, but there is also cause for optimism. “It’s a whole new game, but it’s also an opportunity” said Berg. “I would argue that because in some locations it was easy to serve international customers, they didn’t put [enough] emphasis on serving local consumers.”
Related Articles: The State of Fashion 2021 Report: Finding Promise in Perilous Times Tapping Into the Future of Physical Retail Travel Disruption Will Redraw the Fashion Map     Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here.   To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.  

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Jan 21, 2021
How An Emergency Nurse Broke into Fashion During the Pandemic
20:24

Oluwole Olosunde, the founder of streetwear and home goods label Against Medical Advice, speaks at BoF VOICES 2020 on lessons from the crisis and the importance of making room for new talent.

 

In the fight to curb the coronavirus pandemic, frontline medical workers emerged as heroes. During VOICES 2020 last December, BoF welcomed one of them, the emergency nurse-turned-fashion designer Oluwole Olosunde, to share his truly unique perspective on what the fashion industry can learn about nurturing young talent.Olosunde is a trauma nurse whose ambitions go far beyond healthcare. Known as Wole to friends and as Guacawole online to his more than 20,000 followers, he spent 2020 juggling treating patients at a New York City emergency ward with launching his streetwear and home goods line, Against Medical Advice.In this week’s BoF podcast, he discusses how his experiences treating patients in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual city have informed his approach to design, and the importance of giving motivated young talent a chance.

 

Related Articles: The Emergency Room Nurse Turning His Fashion Dreams Into a Reality VOICES 2020: Fixing the Fashion System

 

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Jan 19, 2021
Robin Givhan on the US Capitol Siege and Vogue’s Kamala Harris Cover
29:25

Speaking with Imran Amed, the Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large shares her thoughts on the controversially ‘familiar’ image of the vice president-elect, and explains where it sits within the wider political climate of the United States as it is due to enter a new chapter.

When the cover of American Vogue’s February issue leaked on Saturday, January 9, a flurry of controversy ensued. Many took to social media to deride the image of vice president-elect Kamala Harris, lensed by Tyler Mitchell, for its casual styling, unflattering lighting and lack of gravitas. The criticism focused on the argument that the portrait lacked the stately deference they believed such a political figure — not least the first Black, South Asian female vice-president — should command.Among those to share their thoughts was Robin Givhan, The Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large who penned a column on January 11 in which she said “the cover did not give Kamala D. Harris due respect… It was a cover image that, in effect, called Harris by her first name without invitation.” Givhan, who became the first fashion writer to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2006, sat down with Imran Amed in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, to further discuss the cover’s significance and the wider tumultuous landscape of US politics. 
  • Debating Harris’ portrait is about more than just a critique of the technicalities and production value of a fashion glossy. Its release comes at a time of political division and fraught race relations, just days after a violent right-wing mob stormed Washington D.C.’s Capitol building, an event incited by President Trump, who now faces a second impeachment for his involvement in the incident. “The last few years have been an exhausting, emotionally draining time,” said Givhan. “I was very surprised that [the cover] became such an issue. I was really stunned that people were so exercised about it. When you think about it, it’s [like] pain from a thousand papercuts, and this was the 1001st papercut.”
  • The informality of the image chosen for the print cover carries greater historical significance and weight. Vogue and Anna Wintour defended it as an extension of the Biden-Harris campaign’s platform of accessibility, which Givhan described as a “legitimate” point of view. But, she said, “I think that the upset is rooted not so much in the current moment but its history. Throughout history, Black women in particular were not given the kind of respect that white women were. People had this familiarity with Black women that was not about friendship and equality but was condescending. Understanding the complicated nature of that would give one pause in presenting the first female vice president — a Black woman — in that way.”
  • While the alternative digital cover image, which depicts Harris in a more presidential light and formal style, offers some reprieve, this print issue has significance as a cultural souvenir (“you can’t give a screengrab to your grandchildren,” said Givhan), and there is no real opportunity for a do-over. “There’s no way to make people happy,” said Givhan, adding that it’s important to instead listen to criticism and “recognise where things went astray” in allowing this misstep to happen. “You just have to do better the next time, and the time after that and the time after that.”

External clips courtesy of Good Morning America and ABC7 News

 

Related Articles: Anna Wintour Speaks on VP Cover Controversy, Amazon and Diversity Efforts The Risks and Rewards of Dressing American Politicians 

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Jan 14, 2021
Big Tech’s Threat to Fashion
23:46
It’s hard to imagine running a successful brand in 2021 without advertising on Instagram, buying search ads on Google or selling on Amazon. At BoF VOICES, H&M’s Christopher Wylie and venture capitalist Roger McNamee talked about why that’s probably not a good thing — and how the industry can reduce its reliance on tech giants.   Before the pandemic, social media and e-commerce giants like Facebook and Amazon were ascendant. The physical isolation caused by the ongoing global health crisis has only consolidated their power. Nevertheless, fashion brands can’t rely on a handful of Silicon Valley firms to run their businesses, venture capitalist Roger McNamee said at BoF’s VOICES.   In an interview with Christopher Wylie, who blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica’s improper use of Facebook user data during the 2016 election, McNamee outlined how big tech has touched off a “cascading series of catastrophes going from the online world into the real world.” In fashion, Facebook, Amazon and Google have inserted themselves between brands and their customers. Though they offer unparalleled marketing and commerce capabilities, McNamee noted their clients pay a steep price in the long run by ceding control of such crucial elements of their businesses. But all is not lost.   “The fashion industry has a superpower,” he said. “You’re actually connected to culture, so people care what you have to say. You have to recognise as an industry that these guys are changing the rules and you have to fight back.”     Find out more about #BoFVOICES here.   To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email 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.
Jan 12, 2021
Who Will Win De-Globalisation?
26:09

At BoF VOICES, Axios journalist Felix Salmon, economist Dr Dambisa Moyo and Sinovation Ventures chief executive Kai-Fu Lee discussed how fashion can navigate challenging economic times.

The current global outlook of mounting debt levels, contracting global trade and rising nationalism bear more than a passing resemblance to conditions in 1929, at the onset of the Great Depression. But that alarming trajectory is not set in stone, panelists at BoF VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers, said. Dr Dambisa Moyo, an economist and author who drew the comparison, said she was “optimistic in many respects,” and sees technological innovation as one way out of the global economy’s current troubles. That’s not to downplay the challenges. Journalist Felix Salmon described an economic “balkanisation” that was making it more difficult for cross-border business, while noting that China’s rapid rebound from Covid-19 could power global markets.

Related Articles:

Hans Ulrich Obrist: The Antidote to Globalisation VOICES 2020: Finding Opportunity in a Global Crisis

 

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Jan 07, 2021
How Does the World Feel About Covid-19?
19:09

Leading health experts Sarah Jones and Noel Brewer discuss how successfully controlling the pandemic is a question of culture as well as science at BoF VOICES 2020.

 

The development of working Covid-19 vaccines in a matter of months is a remarkable feat of the pandemic. The biggest challenge in successfully bringing them to market may be cultural rather than scientific.Whether populations trust public health officials and accept widespread vaccination programmes will determine how the world emerges from the pandemic, said Noel Brewer, professor of health behaviour at the University of North Carolina in conversation at BoF VOICES.Already substantial differences in cultural norms have had a significant influence on how successfully countries have responded to the health crisis, as Sarah Jones, creator of the corporate mental health programme Mental Health Intelligence, explained. Jones has contributed to the largest open-access study that has been conducted on behaviour related to Covid-19 health.Among its findings: There is no global consensus about the value of social distancing measures. Nordic countries like Denmark and Finland have few people who report always wearing a mask, while other countries report a high percentage of people who say they always wear masks. In Asia, social norms around mask-wearing mean that citizens are more likely to voluntarily wear them, while in Europe, people are less likely to wear a mask unless they are legally obligated to do so. The diverging mask-wearing behaviour has led to lopsided progress in tackling the Covid-19 crisis, and extends to how people feel about taking the vaccine. Brewer said that this is where public health officials and government leaders have a responsibility to encourage their citizens to practice social distancing and receive a vaccination. The goal: To emerge from the crisis together.

 

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Jan 05, 2021
How Meditation Can Improve Your Life
26:39

Is mindfulness powerful enough to help stave off illness? Wellness guru Deepak Chopra and entrepreneur Carmen Busquets discuss the benefits the practice can bring to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing at BoF VOICES.

The world is currently battling three simultaneous crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, the attendant economic downturn, and stress, world-renowned wellness guru Deepak Chopra, during a discussion with investor Carmen Busquets and BoF founder and CEO Imran Amed at BoF VOICES. Meditation is a tonic for all of them, Chopra said, in that it can help promote epigenetic responses, awareness and personal and social enrichment.Those who have never meditated need not be intimidated. “Give 60 seconds to yourself,” Busquets said. “Create that awareness of having that 60 seconds of silence, anybody can do it.”

 

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Dec 21, 2020
Rashad Robinson on Addressing Racial Inequality in Fashion
21:17

This summer’s protests forced fashion to examine its longstanding issues with racial discrimination at every level. At BoF VOICES, Color Of Change president Rashad Robinson laid out how to turn the industry’s new awareness into meaningful action.

In 2020, the fashion industry reckoned with its history — and present — of racial discrimination. Companies promised to address the lack of Black voices on their creative teams and in the C-suite, as well as toxic internal cultures.But visibility is only the first step. Now is the time to “translate caring into action,” Color Of Change president Rashad Robinson said at BoF’s VOICES.The most important change the industry can make, he said, is to stop talking about race in a passive voice. It’s not that Black people are less likely to get hired in the fashion industry — rather, the fashion industry excludes Black people.Inclusivity measures such as mentorship and creating career pipelines for Black employees are inadequate, he went on to say. Too much effort is focused on “fixing” individuals, without addressing the system that created barriers to advancement in the first place.“When we talk about vulnerable communities, we spend our time trying to fix those people,” Robinson said. “When we talk about systems and structures, we spend our time trying to fix those systems and those structures.”

 

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Dec 17, 2020
A Covid Survivor’s Story
19:37

When Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, editor-in-chief of 10, returned home after a whirlwind month zipping between shows in fashion’s capitals last March, she thought she’d come down with a case of the “fashion month flu.” What came next changed her perspective on both the industry and her life. 

 

Beating Covid-19 was a battle as draining mentally as it was physically, 10 magazine editor Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou told BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks during BoF VOICES 2020. “It’s not just a physical assault on your body, it’s a mental assault as well,” she said. Neophitou-Apostolou contracted the disease and was admitted to hospital just after fashion month in March. She’s still recovering. The experience had made her  reconsider both how she lives her own life (being “COVID-safe,” she said, is her top priority) and the way the fashion industry operates. “It was a big wake-up call… we have to all of us contribute to things to change them.”

 

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Dec 15, 2020
‘Change Isn’t Good Enough if It’s Just Change for Me’
33:52

Can fashion avoid tokenism and make sincere inclusivity a reality? At BoF VOICES, Sinéad Burke and Samira Nasr talk about how to be an inclusive leader in 2020.

 

After a year when awareness of the need for greater racial, physical and socioeconomic inclusion surged, can the fashion industry learn to avoid tokenism and turn that momentum into enduring change?In a conversation with activist, educator and writer Sinéad Burke at BoF VOICES, Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Samira Nasr spoke about how and why she is working to build an inclusive team in her new role.“The best dinner parties are the ones with more difference. You don’t want to be sitting there with someone with the same ideas,” said Nasr, who was appointed to lead the magazine’s US edition in June.In many parts of the fashion industry, the status quo is only just beginning to shift. “I’m thinking about how to measure and put a process in place so that there’s systemic change,” Burke said. “Change isn’t good enough if it’s just change for me.”

 

Related Articles: VOICES 2020: Fixing the Fashion System

 

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Dec 10, 2020
The Future of Moncler’s ‘Genius’
24:53

At BoF VOICES, Remo Ruffini speaks to Imran Amed about adapting his brand’s programme of designer collaborations to a post-pandemic reality where Chinese customers and online activations are paramount.

 

After global fashion sales fell by 27 percent to 30 percent this year, according to estimates in BoF and McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2021 report (released Wednesday), the industry is bracing for a difficult and (likely incomplete) recovery next year. The important thing is to adapt. “This crisis could be an opportunity,” Moncler chief executive Remo Ruffini said at VOICES last week, predicting the fashion market is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic norms before 2023. “You cannot stay sitting in your chair for two or three years. We need to find new projects and new ways to work.”

With an eye on the rising importance of both digital and China, he’s planning to stage the launch for his next round of “Genius” collaborations in the country this September, with an event mixing physical and online elements. Since 2018, the Italian outerwear label’s “Genius” programme — a series of ultra-hyped, one-off collections from guest designers — has helped the brand reach untapped consumer niches, been a focal point for parties and store activations, and, perhaps most importantly, fuelled visibility on social media.

“The collection will be more customer-centric,” Ruffini said. “We’ll still have people there, but with a different approach.”

Elsewhere, the executive is planning bolder moves. Our conversation took place shortly before Moncler announced it would acquire Stone Island in a transformational move — opening the door to becoming a multi-brand group after nearly two decades of rapid expansion under the banner of a single brand.

 

Related Articles: Moncler Buys Stone Island in Transformative Move VOICES 2020: Fixing the Fashion System Moncler to Stage Genius Show in China in Pandemic Pivot

 

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Dec 08, 2020
How to Master Sleep During the Pandemic
21:33
Good sleeping habits have been linked to higher productivity and better health. At BoF VOICES, Imran Amed discusses the secrets to a good night’s rest with neuroscience Professor Matthew Walker and Oura Founder Harpreet Singh Rai.   Thanks to the pandemic, people are spending more time in their pyjamas, but their sleep patterns are worse than ever. Job loss or worry about job loss and general anxiety surrounding staying healthy are among the chief causes for why sleep, on the whole, has become worse both in quality and quantity for so many.With “sleep hygiene” more important than ever, BoF’s CEO and founder Imran Amed spoke with Dr. Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California Berkeley, and Harpreet Singh Rai, CEO of wearable technology company Oura, as part of BoF’s 2020 VOICES conference.Deep sleep is when you refresh your “immune weaponry in your health arsenal,” Walker said. And better sleep has also been linked to making individuals more receptive to vaccines.
  • Singh Rai — whose wearable product, the Oura Ring, helps track sleep and other health information — explained that international stay-at-home orders during the pandemic have made many people less active. That’s bad for sleep quality, especially when coupled with an increase in screen time. “All of us are sleeping less on average and we’re more distracted than ever before,” said Singh Rai. Sleep progress should really be tracked like diet or a workout regimen because “whatever gets measured gets mastered,” he said.
  • A cavalier attitude to sleep can be costly because it is intimately linked to health and productivity. For example, Walker cited a study that found insufficient sleep costs most nations about two percent of their gross domestic product, amounting to $411 billion in the US. “If we could solve the sleep loss crisis within most first-world nations, [we] could almost double the budget for health care or for education,” Walker said. He added: People should consider sleep to be an “investment in tomorrow” rather than a cost on one’s time.
  • Among Walker and Singh Rai’s top sleep hacks: saunas and warm baths are highly effective at helping the body expel heat once you exit those environments, and help set ideal conditions for sleep; setting sleep alarms (those reminders that nudge you to bed at roughly the same time every evening) is just as important as an alarm to help you wake up in the morning; avoiding naps during the day, caffeine in the afternoon and alcohol in the evening allow people to grow tired enough for sleep at night; and finally, abide by the 25-minute rule: if you’re lying in bed for longer than that trying to sleep, then go and do something else (that does not include screen time or food) until your body is tired. “You would never sit at a dinner table waiting to get hungry. Why would you lie in bed waiting to get sleepy?” Walker said. “The answer is, you shouldn’t.”
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Dec 03, 2020
Tory Burch on Finding Purpose in Female Empowerment
50:02

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

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

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Nov 26, 2020
David Bailey on a Life of ‘Looking Again’
01:06:17

The acclaimed photographer talks to Tim Blanks about his new autobiography and extraordinary career.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — David Bailey has authored dozens of books, but “Look Again” is his first autobiography. As the title suggests, the photographer is less interested in reminiscing about the past, and more keen on pushing himself and others to look beyond first impressions. 

 

The memoir delves into Bailey’s past and includes sometimes-scathing accounts of his relationships with heavyweights in the world of fashion, media, show business and politics — though he maintains he told the stories “in the nicest possible way.” 

 

“Being a photographer, you have to know how to deal with anyone, from the bloke on the [street] corner to the Queen, so you have to behave,” he said.

 

Speaking in conversation with BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks, the famed photographer shares anecdotes from his storied and colourful past. 

 

  • Since he first burst onto the scene in 1960, photography has drastically changed alongside technology. “iPhones killed photography in a way, because everyone can take a picture,” he said, adding, “it’s made it into a kind of folk art,” which has its merits.  
  • As Blanks notes, Bailey lost interest in fashion photography for a while in the 1970s, a period  Bailey blames on  his dislike of some editors and the grind of the fashion cycle. It was “another frock and another frock and another girl and another girl.” It took the emergence of Kate Moss — alongside ‘60s supermodel Jean Shrimpton one of Bailey’s top muses — to excite him again. “They’re both exceptional,… important people, much more important than people think.”
  • While Bailey is not one for nostalgia, he can pinpoint one photograph that defines an era — and himself as a photographer. “I’ve got one picture that I feel sums up everything: [British actor] Michael Caine with an unlit cigarette,” he said. “I feel it sums up the ‘60s for me. Not a miniskirt but a close-up of Michael Caine.”

 

Related Articles:

David Bailey Turns Editor for Citizens of Humanity

100 Years of British Vogue

Will Covid-19 Change Fashion Photography?

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Nov 19, 2020
Tremaine Emory on Mixing Politics and Fashion
54:07
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?”
  Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here.   To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.  

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Nov 12, 2020
The Fashion Industry Unpacks the US Election
50:22
The BoF team and industry experts Sharifa Murdock and Stephen Lamar discuss what the close vote means for the future of fashion.   LONDON, United Kingdom — Election night ended in the US without a clear answer as to who will lead the country for the next four years. And though former Vice President Joe Biden appeared to have established a small lead over President Donald Trump in several key states as of Thursday afternoon, many questions remain about what will happen next.  Sharifa Murdock, co-owner of Liberty Fashion & Lifestyle Fairs, and Stephen Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association joined BoF’s Lauren Sherman, Brian Baskin and Imran Amed to discuss what’s at stake for tariffs, trade agreements and corporate activism whatever the outcome.  Trade policies have changed under the current administration. Trump renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement and levied tariffs on goods imported from China and some European countries. Biden may not have implemented these polices given the choice, but his administration will be cautious about retreating from Trump’s trade positions, Lamar said. “They don’t want to be seen as the new government immediately going soft on China,” he said.  Trump campaigned in 2016 on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US, but in the fashion industry at least, American factories cannot compete directly with overseas rivals on price, said Murdock of Liberty Fashion & Lifestyle Fairs. “News flash, stuff that left isn’t coming back,” said Lamar, who added that a Trump or Biden administration should focus instead on creating new kinds of apparel production jobs in the US.  Sales of luxury goods are holding up relatively well in the US as the wealthy redirect money that normally would be used on trips and hotels toward handbags and apparel. Trump’s tax cut has also played a role, giving wealthy consumers more disposable income. Biden campaigned on raising corporate taxes and reversing some of Trump’s tax policies. However, his ability to implement his vision depends on Democratic control of the Senate, which appeared unlikely as of Wednesday afternoon.  Corporate activism has flourished under the Trump presidency, as brands and retailers that previously remained neutral on political issues came under increased pressure by consumers to take a stance. The panelists predicted that activism was likely to continue, no matter who wins the election. “One thing that Trump did do was bring out… views that haven’t been looked at previously,” said Murdock. “No matter who wins [diversity and inclusion] is going to be on people’s minds.” Related Articles:
The US Election: What’s at Stake for Fashion?
American Fashion Executives on What Happens Now

 Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here.   To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email 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.
Nov 05, 2020
Gareth Pugh on Returning to Fashion in Extraordinary Times
47:31
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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Nov 03, 2020
Dries Van Noten on Opening a Store During a Pandemic
47:49
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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Oct 29, 2020
The Earthshot: A New Sustainability Mindset for Fashion Retail
29:49

In the final episode of BoF’s new podcast series Retail Reborn, Doug Stephens explores how fashion retail must evolve so it can operate within planetary boundaries featuring guests including sustainable design authority William McDonough, founder and CEO of Jordan Alliance Group Inc, Ilka Jordan, and Sanjeev Bahl, founder of sustainable denim manufacturer Saitex.

 

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Oct 27, 2020
Paul Smith on the Past 50 Years
49:14
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.”
Related Articles: Restructuring and Redundancies at Paul Smith Streamlining Collections, Paul Smith Reveals Own Fashion Calendar Fix   Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here.   To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.  

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Oct 22, 2020
Imran Amed and Tim Blanks on a Most Unusual Fashion Month
53:53

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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Oct 15, 2020
Kenneth Cole on Why Mental Health is the Other Big Pandemic
31:15

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.” 

 

Related Articles:

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

 

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Oct 08, 2020
Will Covid-19 Kill Experiential Retail? Not So Fast | Retail Reborn Episode 4
35:06

"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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Oct 06, 2020
Daniel Roseberry on the Schiaparelli Challenge
51:37

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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Oct 01, 2020
The Future of Digital Commerce | Retail Reborn Episode 3
27:33

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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Sep 29, 2020
Lulu Kennedy on London's Young Creatives
53:45

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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Sep 24, 2020
Building Smarter, More Sustainable Supply Chains | Retail Reborn Episode 2
33:20

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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Sep 22, 2020
Craig Green Says, ‘Fashion Can Come From Anywhere’
52:10
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.”
Related Articles: Packaging the Body at Craig Green Craig Green Talks Creative Evolution    

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Sep 17, 2020
How Trauma Transforms Consumer Psyche | Retail Reborn Episode 1
27:25

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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Sep 15, 2020
Welcome to Retail Reborn from The Business of Fashion | Trailer
02:28

In an exclusive new series from The Business of Fashion in partnership with Brookfield Properties, Doug Stephens and BoF investigate the seismic shifts transforming the retail ecosystem. From the post-pandemic consumer psyches to increased risk and growing calls for responsibility, BoF identifies the forces transforming the retail market and what they mean for the global industry.

The Retail Reborn Podcast launches on Tuesday 15 September. Subscribe now to never miss an episode.

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Sep 14, 2020
The Fate of the Physical Runway Show
46:49

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.”
Related Articles: A Year Without Fashion Shows Will Covid-19 Change Fashion Shows Forever? Who Are Fashion Shows For?

 

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Sep 10, 2020
Cathy Horyn on Why Fashion Media Must Evolve
01:00:07

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

 

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Sep 03, 2020
Stella Jean Asks ‘Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?’
55:28

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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Aug 27, 2020