ONLY THE FITTEST SURVIVE: How to make fashion fit for the future? That was the question at the Fashion Forum, organized by the British Fashion Council and The Ned in London on Monday night.
To help take British product to new international markets, the BFC revealed it was working with long-term partner DHL on a new award. The DHL Award for International Fashion Potential will be given to one British fashion brand and is to be valued at 20,000 pounds, or $25,413 at current exchange. Along with the cash prize, the winner will receive support and advice from both DHL and the BFC, it said.
Applications, the organizers noted, are to open on Friday at DHLFashion.co.uk.
The one-day, invite-only event brought together 140 industry leaders from fashion, investment and technology, including TheCurrent, which curated “The Tech Space,” a collection of ten disruptive technology companies with applications for fashion for guests to demonstrate.
Experts, however, urged brands and retailers not to “jump on every tech bandwagon” but to use data to make informed decisions. It was agreed that tech won’t solve all problems, but with investment in the right people, technology could be used to drive efficiencies and inform strategy.
Among other takeaways of the day was that employee engagement is key, and that investing in talent is a business benefit. This was particularly relevant in the post-Brexit context, with speakers urging fashion leaders to engage in a dialogue with the government to ensure that skilled EU workers would still be able join British fashion businesses, once the country exists the European Union.
Tom Ford, who was among the experts on the panel, advised fashion school graduates to “get experience first, stay grounded and for all designers and entrepreneurs to trust their intuition,” whereas Kim Jones, men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, shared his insights on collaboration and creativity.
Matt Elek, chief executive officer of Vice Media for Europe, Middle East and Africa, meanwhile, said that his group was to build out fashion hubs in Milan and Paris. Following its 2016 acquisition of Starworks Group, the brand development and creative agency, Vice Media is quickly moving to combine all of its fashion, media and agency services into one collective offering, called VSWG, which includes products across digital, creative, data insights, communications and entertainment.
The group said it would be making dozens of new hires over the next six to 12 months, eyeing further acquisitions as it moves deeper into fashion.
VSWG, whose current partners include Chanel, Gucci, Marc Jacobs and H&M, will be headquartered in New York and will be run by James Grant, SWG founder and ceo. Gavin Francis Thomas, formerly of Nike, will lead strategy as chief strategy officer, and Diana Good, formerly US managing director of i-D, will oversee US operations as general manager. SWG Europe directors Ivana Giachino and Liana Weatherhead will oversee UK operations with Melanie Bigoni as general manager and Katie White, current Managing Director of i-D. The French and Italian appointments will be announced in due course.