LONDON — The British Fashion Council held its second Fashion Forum event at London’s Café Royal on Tuesday.
The BFC launched the invitation-only event last year as a think tank for industry leaders, retailers, investors, labels, entrepreneurs, lawyers and tech businesses to debate issues that concern the fashion industry, along with engaging the investment and finance communities and showcasing businesses with high potential for growth.
Speakers at Tuesday’s event included Natalie Massenet, the BFC’s chairman and executive chairman at Net-a-porter.com; Alannah Weston, deputy chairman of Selfridges Group; Livia Firth, creative director of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age; Peter Harris, president of Pedder Group, and Andrew Robb, chief operations officer at Farfetch.
Though the event was held under Chatham House rules, on an off-the-record basis, the BFC detailed a number of insights that came out of the talks.
On establishing their business in China, brands and labels heard from speakers Alice Wong, president of Imagine X, which manages retail, brands and distribution in China and Southeast Asia; Andrew Keith, president of Lane Crawford and Joyce, and Harris of Pedder Group. The panel said brands should take steps to secure their trademark in China, along with planning to enter several cities within China — aside from just the best-known locations — and to enter the market with a multibrand retailer, in order to test the appetite for their product and to build brand awareness.
Meanwhile, on the subject of sustainability, a panel made up of Weston at Selfridges, Firth at Eco-Age and Michael Beutler, sustainability and operations director at Kering, discussed how sustainability needs to be “embedded within a business,” that businesses should communicate their sustainability efforts to consumers and “future proof” their business against climate change.
And on the issue of investment, a panel that included Robb at Farfetch; Mark Esiri, chairman of private investment firm Venrex, and Matthew Westerman, chairman of investment banking Europe, Middle East and Africa at Goldman Sachs, counseled designers that the fashion and tech convergence is “inevitable,” and that creative talent can’t “do it all,” but should partner with those with business acumen.
Anya Hindmarch, the European Regional Development Fund and Hotel Café Royal sponsored the event.