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The Business of Fashion Podcast
54 minutes | 6 days ago
A Masterclass on Leadership With Simon Sinek
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.” Related Articles: Coronavirus Concerns Hit Fashion’s Workplaces How to Create an Inclusive Workplace Industry Leaders Share Insight on Securing Employment in 2021 To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link.
51 minutes | 9 days ago
Rethinking Fashion’s Approach to the Plus-Size Market
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. Related Articles: What Fashion Can’t Seem to Get Right About the Plus-Size Market Unravelling the Plus-Size Problem How to Make Your Brand Size-Inclusive To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
46 minutes | 13 days ago
Shelly Verthime on Alber Elbaz’s Fashion Dreams
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.” Related Articles: Lessons for the Fashion Industry From Alber Elbaz’s Talk at VOICES 2018 Alber Elbaz on Making His Return to Fashion Inside Alber Elbaz’s Return to Fashion To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
26 minutes | 16 days ago
Lessons for the Fashion Industry From Alber Elbaz’s Talk at VOICES 2018
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.” Related Articles: Inside Alber Elbaz’s Return to Fashion Inside the Mind of Alber Elbaz Alber Elbaz on Making His Return to Fashion To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
19 minutes | 20 days ago
In Search of Transparency: Fashion’s Data Problem
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. Related Articles: Measuring Fashion’s Sustainability Gap Scaling Up or Selling Out: How Can Sustainable Labels Credibly Collaborate with Big Brands? Devising a New Social Contract for Fashion’s Garment Workers To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
32 minutes | 23 days ago
Devising a New Social Contract for Fashion’s Garment Workers
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.” Related Articles: Fashion’s Humanitarian Crisis Racism and Inequality Are Stitched Into the Garments We Wear Brands Say They Want to Keep Workers Safe. Not All Are Willing to Pay for It. To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
26 minutes | a month ago
Stella McCartney on the Business of Sustainable Design
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. Related Articles: Why LVMH Struck a Deal with Stella McCartney Stella McCartney Announces UN Charter for Sustainable Fashion The BoF Podcast: Stella McCartney: ‘Everything Is at Stake’ To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
13 minutes | a month ago
The New Model for Building DTC Brands
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. Related Articles: The New 4 Ps of DTC Marketing How Not to Be a Boring Direct-to-Consumer Brand The New Rules of Going DTC To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
19 minutes | a month ago
10 Retail Archetypes for the Post-Pandemic Era
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.” Related Articles: Take a Look Inside The Post-Pandemic Store The New Rules of Brick-and-Mortar Retail Tapping Into the Future of Physical Retail To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
19 minutes | a month ago
Rethinking the Fashion Rental Model for the Post-Pandemic Era
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. To subscribe to the BoF Podcast, please follow this link. 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. Related Articles: The Return of Rental Inside the Closet of the Future The Pandemic Changed the Way People Live. How Can Fashion Adapt? To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
35 minutes | a month ago
A Crash Course on The BoF Sustainability Index
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?” Related Articles: Sustainability: What Brands Are Prioritising in 2021 The Waste Opportunity: How Fashion Could Turn Trash to Treasure Fashion’s Long Road to Transparency To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
21 minutes | a month ago
The Rise of Virtual Fashion
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. Related Articles: NFTs for Fashion: Fad or Opportunity? What the NFT Gold Rush Means for Fashion Gucci Is Selling $12 (Virtual) Sneakers To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
54 minutes | 2 months ago
Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in Fashion
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. To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
56 minutes | 2 months ago
Sterling Ruby on His Boundary-Bending Work in Art and Fashion
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.” Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
31 minutes | 2 months ago
The Year That Changed the World
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. Related Articles: How Covid-19 Is Catalysing a New Era of Luxury The State of Fashion 2021: Reality Check To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
53 minutes | 2 months ago
Somali Supermodel Iman on the Struggle for Representation in Fashion
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.]” Related Articles: Secrets of the Supermodel Trade The BoF Podcast: Tackling Systemic Racism in the Fashion Industry Op-Ed | Racial Diversity on the Runway To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
30 minutes | 2 months ago
What Happens Now to the Business of the Monarchy?
Both a clan and a cultural institution, the royal family is also a business with a very specific, controlled brand that is intertwined with the business of fashion. On the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Imran Amed is joined by author and royal-watcher Elizabeth Holmes to dissect how the royal family’s brand has been impacted by Meghan and Harry’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey. 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.” Related Articles: Have We Reached Peak Royalty? Monetising Meghan Markle Could Meghan Markle Cash In on Her Powerful Influencer Status? External clips courtesy of Today, India Today, Sky News Australia, CPAC, Good Morning Britain, Harpo Productions/CBS, and CTV News. To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
60 minutes | 2 months ago
Norma Kamali on Rebelliousness, Creativity and How She Made a Lasting Business
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.” To subscribe to the BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
33 minutes | 2 months ago
Unraveling Kering’s Investment in Vestiaire Collective
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.” Related Articles: Why Kering Invested in Vestiaire Collective Should Luxury Build Resale Into Its Business Model? The Resale Gold Rush Rolls On To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link. Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
22 minutes | 2 months ago
José Neves Unpacks the Farfetch-Alibaba-Richemont Partnership
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.” Related Articles: What the Farfetch-Alibaba-Richemont Mega-Deal Means for Luxury E-Commerce Duelling Visions for Online Luxury in Mytheresa and Farfetch’s Latest Results Farfetch and Alibaba Open Up About Their Mega-Deal with Richemont Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.
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