“In Ancient Greek, the words fashion and leisure were synonyms, and leisure was considered the time dedicated to studying and learning,” said Paris-based consulting and executive search specialist Floriane de Saint Pierre, who, on Thursday, was among the speakers at the “Fashion Displacement” panel discussion hosted by Florentine fashion school Polimoda.
Analyzing the fast-paced fashion industry and trying to imagine the evolution of the business, de Saint Pierre underscored the importance of redefining fashion as a “catalyst of society.” In this perspective creativity becomes the real tool able to connect the industry with society.
“When it’s the h.r. choosing the creative people, the brand is killed. I think companies should give back the power to the creatives. It’s really about connecting creative minds together,” she observed. “I think that we have to think about meaningful products — today a creative leader doesn’t just sell beautiful products, but grows a creative team and a creative image. The creative assets engaging people are key. Talent managers should be within the creative team and creative directors should choose the people working in the design team.”
Pitti Immagine chief executive officer Raffaello Napoleone also stressed the importance of developing a creative community within the companies and the industry.
“Schools have to teach students the essentials, they have to give them the right skills. But this is not enough. It’s relevant to create a creative community,” he said. “Sometimes major labels tap major designers and they don’t get the results they wanted. One of the reasons why it happens is because they don’t have the right people able to talk to the new generation of customers. You need high sensibility toward the present.”
A combination of skills, talent and network is key to succeed in the fashion industry, according to Polimoda director Danilo Venturi.
“I think that managers should be creative since they have to find new ways to operate,” he said. “On the creative side, I don’t see designers around anymore, people like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. I see brand managers, merchandisers. We also need more technical profiles.”
“I think designers should be thoughtful and mindful — this attitude will change the way we produce. We have to construct meanings and new values,” said Pratt Institute professor Jennifer Minniti, explaining the method she uses with her students. “We push our students to re-contextualize and re-create meaning with things which already exits.”
The importance of being flexible emerged as one of the main characteristics that fashion students should have to kick off their career in the fashion industry.
“I think that being flexible is being multidisciplinary, which means that at school you have to experiment with different things,” said Venturi, highlighting the importance of creating a connection between students and companies. “Through the collaboration, students are allowed to experiment and companies can benefit of the quotient of unpredictability the students can bring them.”
But what are the key factors that companies should consider to guarantee a future to their business in this constantly evolving scenario?
Firms should consider that the pillar idea of buying has changed, especially for new generations, according to de Saint Pierre.
“Rent the Runway is the largest dry cleaner in the world,” she said, referring to the success of the web site that enables people to rent designer clothes rather than purchasing them.
Consequently, if the buying process changes, the selling strategy should adapt.
For example, Not Just a Label founder and ceo Stefan Siegel pointed out that a high percentage of independent emerging designers, who are collected in his global platform, prefer to sell directly, creating a direct connection with customers, rather than embracing traditional wholesale strategies.
With the relationships between companies and customers getting tighter and tighter, transparency and integrity are two key factors which companies need to keep in mind, according to de Saint Pierre.
“People are getting more and more careful about what brands give back to society,” she said, adding that labels should consider themselves “stakeholders of society.”
Carlo Capasa, president of the Italiana Camera della Moda, urged companies to appoint a chief sustainability officer to develop sustainable strategies.