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.”
Marine Serre Questions the Fashion Industry’s Practices
The French designer, known for her embrace of eco-futurism, speaks to BoF founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed about the evolution of her namesake brand and explains its deeper purpose.
Designer Marine Serre has long had an affinity for evoking the apocalyptic in her work, a tendency that became particularly resonant during the pandemic. Serre spent lockdown reflecting on her time in the fashion industry and asking how it can change. Now, she has pledged to use her brand and influence to break the fast fashion cycle and build sustainable supply chains.
On this week’s BoF Podcast, we revisit Serre’s conversation with BoF’s Imran Amed discussing the evolution of her eponymous sustainability-focused brand for the post-pandemic world.
Despite the limitations of the pandemic, Serre did not steer away from her goal to prioritise sustainability at the heart of her brand. “From now to four years ago, I'm just walking the same way. I never really disassociate creation from process,” she says. Serre believes that consumer needs have changed. When people go to buy her clothes they consider the brand’s supply chain as well as the aesthetic. “I'm trying to relinquish that part of what was carved out is a luxury and de-link myself with fast fashion and growth,” Serre explains. Known for her use of discarded and recycled fabrics, Serre says she has grown less shy about doing exactly what she wants to do in fashion, revising peoples’ ideas of preciousness and creating garments out of materials already imbued with meaning. “I think the goal of the company is to question the fashion industry,” Serre says. To subscribe to the BoF Podcast, please follow this link.
The Debrief: How Big Brands Choose Their Creative Directors
Louis Vuitton is expected to name its Virgil Abloh successor within weeks. Lauren Sherman quizzes Imran Amed on what luxury labels think about when recruiting top designers.
Background: Louis Vuitton has spent almost a year searching for a Virgil Abloh successor after the designer died in November 2021. According to sources, Martine Rose, Grace Wales Bonner and Telfar Clemens are among the names that were considered by owner LVMH, and the decision is expected to be announced within weeks. But how do brands like Louis Vuitton even go about finding a designer?
“Without the creative energy, without that kind of excitement, there’s nothing to sell,” said Imran Amed, BoF founder and editor-in-chief.
Key Insights: While all brands have their own personality and the situations that necessitate finding a new creative director differ, the things most brands look for in a leader are similar. Executives have to consider whether they’re looking for revolution, like when Gucci tapped Alessandro Michele for creative energy and new ideas, or evolution, like when Saint Laurent tapped Anthony Vaccarello to keep its aesthetic formula after Hedi Slimane departed. A strong vision is the most important thing. But creative directors also need to have commercial sensibility and the ability to work in a corporate environment. One of Abloh’s achievements was that he managed to build a community at Louis Vuitton, and engage consumers who had been traditionally excluded by the luxury industry. Additional Resources: Virgil Abloh: Building on a Legacy: Like Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gianni Versace before him, the late Virgil Abloh leaves a powerful legacy. What does this mean for Off-White and Louis Vuitton? Which Luxury Leadership Configuration Works Best? In luxury fashion, the right configuration of creative and commercial leadership is critical to success, writes Pierre Mallevays. To subscribe to the BoF Podcast, please follow this link.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Leadership and Legacy
Royal expert Elizabeth Holmes speaks to BoF’s Imran Amed about Queen Elizabeth II’s life and legacy — in fashion, culture and society at large.
Tributes to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch have flooded social media, television and even public parks in the days since her passing, memorialising the Queen’s steadfast leadership, but also her impeccable sense of style.
This week on The BoF Podcast, BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed speaks with royal expert Elizabeth Holmes who reflects on the influence the Queen’s record-setting reign has had on the fashion industry and the wider culture.
The Queen was known around the world for her monochromatic outfits, designed to help her stand out in the crowd. She also created a unique twist on a set formula of basics: hat, coat, bag and pearls. “I think she understood the power of clothes,” says Holmes. “She used things like the colour of her outfit, especially when she was travelling overseas to perhaps match the host country's flag.” Holmes details how the Queen had a “tremendous sort of swing of the style pendulum” from her private life, where she’d wear headscarves and tartan skirts, to her public life, wearing tiaras and gowns. “It was very important to see all aspects of royal life,” says Holmes. “Both being worthy of the glamour of royalty, but then also sensible stewards of taxpayer dollars.” Her influence also stretched outside of her sovereign powers, with the path she paved for other female leaders around the world. Being crowned Queen at just 25, she became one of the only women at the table of leadership, and she made it count. “I think the Queen sort of made it permissible to really stand out.” As King Charles III takes to the throne commentators are looking to the future of the institution. “The conversation changes a little bit now that there is a King on the throne,” says Holmes. “Understanding that the whole spotlight shifts to him and with that, the good and perhaps the criticism, too.”
Queen Elizabeth II’s Style Legacy: Britain’s longest reigning monarch has died. Her influence extended to the realm of fashion, where she invented the concept of “sartorial diplomacy.” What the Queen Means to Designers: Queen Elizabeth was an inspiration for fashion designers from Vivienne Westwood to Alessandro Michele to Richard Quinn. Will any British royal have the same influence again?
Casablanca’s Charaf Tajer on Designing for Impossible Possibilities
The designer speaks with BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed about building his own business, the power of aspiration and opening doors for people who want to break into fashion.
French-Moroccan designer Charaf Tajer is the French-Moroccan designer behind Casablanca, a business that he started with only €3,000 to tap into the growing demand for women’s resortwear, and which is now doing more than €45 million in annual revenue.
But Charaf’s rise in the Parisian fashion scene is also exceptional because of who Charaf is and where he is from. As one of the few people of colour working at the very top level of French luxury fashion, he has learned that no matter how high his star rises, he still faces discrimination related to his identity as he travels in these elite spaces. This only makes him want to work harder to break down barriers and become a role model.
On the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, designer Tajer joins BoF’s Imran Amed on The BoF Podcast to talk about building his own business, the power of aspiration and opening doors for people who want to break into fashion.
Growing up in the outskirts of Paris, Tajer had an early appreciation for luxury, getting glimpses of wealth going with his mother to work as a cleaner in the 16th arrondissement. He channelled this sense of curiosity into the core of Casablanca and believes it lies in the industry itself. “I think this is what fashion does, is like it opens a certain option of dreaming of certain things,” says Tajer. Tajer believes you must go outside of your comfort zone and explore new paths to achieve success. “There is nothing for you in the past, so you have to go to the future because when you look back, there’s nothing for you… There was no space for me to grow.” Tajer’s background has at times led him to feel like a fashion outsider. That feeling inspired him to want to become a role model for others. “Beside the fact that I’m a North African Muslim guy, I also just want to represent the new face of France,” says Tajer. “It’s my duty to also accomplish the biggest thing in the world, to become an example.” While entering the world of fashion, Tajer is careful to open doors for others and leave behind a legacy that any achievement is possible with effort. “For me I only want to go for the impossible possibilities,” Tajer says.
Fashion’s Top M&A Targets: The market may be cooling, but a number of in-demand brands remain of interest to financial backers. BoF identifies the top targets. Can Fashion Start-Ups Cash In on the Tennis Boom? For a new wave of tennis-inflected fashion start-ups, success may depend on balancing the energy of the sport’s increasingly inclusive present with the allure of its exclusive past.
Rick Owens on Lessons Learned from the Pandemic
The designer speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about his first collection after 2020 and why he feels a sense of optimism following the pandemic.
At the start of 2021, Rick Owens wanted his next show to reflect the universal toll the pandemic had taken on the world. Held at Venice’s Tempio Votivo, a shrine to the fallen soldiers of the two world wars, Owens centred the show around the sombre themes of “anger and darkness.” Despite this ominous outlook, Owens told BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks in January 2021 that a pivot in political circumstances with the inauguration of Joe Biden gave him a sense of optimism.
On this week’s episode of the BoF Podcast, we revisit this thought provoking conversation with Owens about his Autumn/Winter 2021 collection, his reflections on lessons learned from the pandemic and his renewed hope for society.
For Owens, constraints can create fertile ground for creativity. “It has been quiet change and I like the idea of working within small boundaries,” says Owen. “I like the idea of doing the best with what you have got.” Owens created his collection when the world was facing growing political uncertainty and instability but he says “one of the most reassuring things [in this world] is that everything usually balances out. We have survived this long because there is just a tiny bit more of goodness than badness. Just enough to keep us surviving.” Owen’s men’s shows in particular are deeply personal. “My men’s runway shows are always about men’s flaws and men’s worst urges because they are auto-biographical,” he says. “When I am thinking about men I am thinking about my own experience and my own experience is very critical and I am always very conscious of my worst urges and where they are coming from.”
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
Inside Yohji Yamamoto’s Fashion Philosophy
In a rare interview, the influential Japanese designer speaks with BoF’s Imran Amed about the philosophy that underpins his boundary-breaking career.
After graduating from Keio University with a law degree, Yohji Yamamoto realised he wasn’t interested in the law.
“I didn’t want to join the ordinary society,” he says. “So I told my mother after graduation … ‘I want to help you.’”
She agreed to let him work at her dressmaking shop in Kabukicho, an entertainment district in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward, and learn from the sewing assistants if he enrolled at Bunka Fashion College, now famous for training designers such as Kenzo Takada, Junya Watanabe and Yamamoto himself.
After graduating, Yamamoto went on to set up a small ready-to-wear company that slowly acquired buyers in all of Japan’s major cities. This success eventually led him to Paris, where his signature tailoring and draping in oversized silhouettes created an aesthetic earthquake at Paris Fashion Week in 1981.
Since then, Yamamoto has developed a cult following of loyalists who swear by his avant-garde designs. “I’m not working in the mainstream,” he says. “I’m working in the side stream.”
This week on The BoF Podcast, we revisit Imran Amed’s rare interview with the legendary Japanese designer about his storied career — and the mindset designers need to succeed.
Yamamoto says the fashion industry’s increasingly fast-pace has come at the expense of true creativity. “For me the fashion business became a money business,” he said. “I felt I’ve been losing my competitors year by year.” Yamamoto believes that modern technology can be a distraction. “When I speak with young designers, I [tell] them shut your computer,” he said. “If you really want to see real things, real beauty, you have to go there by walking.” Yamamoto believes it’s a designer’s job to completely immerse themselves in design. “If you want to create something, keep resisting the mediocracy of ordinary things. It’s a life's work. Are you ready to sacrifice yourself to create something?” Additional Resources:
Watch the full interview here: Inside Yohji Yamamoto’s Fashion Philosophy The Magic of Yohji Yamamoto