288 episodes

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.”

The Business of Fashion Podcast The Business of Fashion

    • Arts

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.”

    Marni's Francesco Risso on Fashion After Isolation

    Marni's Francesco Risso on Fashion After Isolation

    Marni’s creative director reflects on the changes that must endure post-pandemic and the importance of emotion.








     

    In retrospect, Francesco Risso’s January 2020 menswear show for Marni seems prophetic. The collection took inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” which tells a story of plague and societal excess. These themes continue to resonate with the designer after 16 months living with the pandemic.


    On this week’s episode of the BoF Podcast, Risso tells BoF’s editor-at-large Tim Blanks why fashion’s habits of over-production and lavish runways are now “redundant” and where he believes the industry should go from here.



    Risso has always looked back at brand archives for inspiration, but now he sees an opportunity to extend that habit to create more timeless designs. “Every season we take stuff from the old archives… and it’s become Marni’s prerogative, so every collection we have those heirlooms,” says Risso. “I’m very a big fan of trying to be responsible with design in that sense.”





    Risso reflects on the importance of simplicity. Refocusing on creating connections and celebrating the small things over the past year has been a key focus at Marni. “I think it really forced us to focus on the authenticity of our ideas and also to celebrate them at a certain point… we [celebrated] in a very light and primitive kind of way,” he says.





    Changes to runway shows during the pandemic must not be overturned, according to Risso, who calls for more permanent change to the industry’s schedule by reducing the number of collections in a year. “I would love that whatever we have learnt right now is not just thrown off,” says Risso.





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    The End of the (Fashion) World as We Know It


    At Marni, Hybrids of the Past


    A New Urgency at Marni


     


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    • 50 min
    How to Integrate Immersive Experiences into Physical Stores

    How to Integrate Immersive Experiences into Physical Stores

    Ssense’s Krishna Nikhil and 2PM’s Web Smith talk strategies for making physical retail exciting at The BoF Professional Summit: What’s a Store For?


     


    The role of physical retail has changed drastically over the past few years — particularly amid the pandemic — as customers turned to digital channels and brands sharpened their focus on e-commerce. But, physical stores remain an important touchpoint. During this month’s BoF Professional Summit “What’s a Store For?” Krishna Nikhil, chief merchandising officer & chief marketing officer of Ssense, and Web Smith, founder of 2PM, unpacked the different ways brands are transforming their stores to be more than just a place to conduct transactions. That means thinking about a physical retail space as a means to provide experiences and entertainment that are relevant to their audiences and continue to prioritise service.


    “It’s so important to think about how you create something that is meaningful for the customer,” says Nikhil. “For us, that really started with this idea of ‘how do we reinvent how commerce takes place in the store?’”


    Nikhil and Web Smith, founder of retail media company 2PM, join BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed for a discussion about making stores a grounds for immersive experiences without diluting their purpose of obtaining customers.



    Ssense has streamlined the trying-and-buying process to be more efficient by introducing an appointment service so that customers can spend their time in-store engaging with the cultural programming and the “big moments” the retailer orchestrates — like Virgil Abloh’s 2018 “Cutting Room Floor” exhibition, which recreated his studio in the space. “What we are doing is giving both a great experience with product, but also giving time back to that customer… That time back, is about immersion in all the other experiences that we create in the store,” said Nikhil.





    Pointing to direct-to-consumer start-up Rowing Blazers, which used only about 30 to 40 percent of the space in its flagship for actual merchandise, Smith says product doesn’t need to dominate a store. “What are the associated things: the moments, the history, the accessories that you were merchandising with — the history of the industry itself?” he said. “What are those things that you would associate with the sale of those products?”





    As the line between media and commerce increasingly intersects, brands need to present a specific vision of their point of view to the audience they want to attract. “Products are almost commoditised at this point: anyone can make anything. What makes a product unique right now is the person that’s selling it and the audience that they’re selling it to,” said Smith.





    Related Articles:


    Tapping Into the Future of Physical Retail — Download the Case Study


    You Can’t Predict the Future of Retail, but You Can Prepare for It


    10 Retail Archetypes for the Post-Pandemic Era


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    • 25 min
    Photographer Mert Alas’ New Venture

    Photographer Mert Alas’ New Venture

    BoF’s Tim Blanks speaks with one half of the renowned duo Mert and Marcus about finding new creative avenues.


     


    Renowned fashion photographer Mert Alas — one half of the renowned duo Mert and Marcus — has spent the last four years immersed in the world of gin. While pandemic pivots to new creative ventures have become commonplace, Alas was looking for a new creative outlet long before the current crisis. In crafting his new aromatic gin — named Seventy One after the number of nights it takes to rest the spirit in oak casks — he found many parallels with fashion’s creative challenges. Just like in fashion, gin making has suffered from a focus on speed over quality. True craft requires patience and time, Alas says.


    On this week’s BoF Podcast, Alas speaks with Tim Blanks about finding new creative avenues and resisting the pressure to produce more and more and more stuff.



    Alas approached his new gin like any other creative project as a “relentless journey for perfection.” He immersed himself in the process, learning about every step, from the drink’s perfume basis to how many days were required to settle the alcohol. “It became this like a domino effect of ideas and in reality, an experience,” he says.





    As Alas thought about how he wanted to position his new brand, he spent a lot of time reflecting on the “selfish” nature of the fashion industry. During lockdown, he wanted to create “some kind of an artistic give back,” using Instagram to connect with young creative followers and give them feedback.





    Creatives should hold on to the time they had during the pandemic to focus on their craft, Alas says. “I was very much on a go, go, go [mentality] for the past 30 years… What I realised [during] the pandemic was that we also never stopped... I was doing a lot of quantity, but now I realise I missed craft.”





    Related Articles:


    Christopher Kane’s Pandemic Pivot


    The Art of the Crisis Pivot – and the Brands Getting it Right


    How to Pivot Your Skill Set During Covid-19


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    • 27 min
    Selfridges’ Andrew Keith on Post-Pandemic Retail

    Selfridges’ Andrew Keith on Post-Pandemic Retail

    Andrew Keith, managing director of Selfridges, discusses the future of the British department store at The BoF Professional Summit: What’s a Store For?


    The purpose of the store has shifted dramatically in the past few years. But while other department stores struggle to keep up with these changes, Selfridges has established itself as an outlier by doubling down on its physical retail strategy, as highlighted in BoF’s newest Case Study, “Can Selfridges Future-Proof the Department Store?” The British chain has transformed its storefronts into experiential hubs, decked out with pop-ups, restaurants, art installations and even a skateboarding bowl, to try to get as many consumers as possible to spend as much time as possible within store walls.


    “What we’re creating within the Selfridges stores is a destination,” said Andrew Keith, managing director of Selfridges.”It’s about being able to create a space people want to go to for the day.”


    On this week’s BoF Podcast, Keith joins BoF’s Imran Amed at Selfridges’ Oxford Street flagship during The BoF Professional Summit “What’s a Store For?” The two chat about how the pandemic has affected the retailer’s face-to-face focus, how the company — rumoured to be in discussions about a £4 billion ($5.6 billion) sale to an unknown buyer — is shoring up its e-commerce channels and what he sees for the fused future of digital and physical retail.



    The pandemic decimated London tourism, which made Selfridges think more locally about its retail strategy, and in turn, built market share with domestic customers. From Birmingham to Manchester, Selfridges works with local creatives to make every store distinct in a way that engages with the particular place’s needs and aesthetics. “Each of these communities has its own diversity, it has its own entrepreneurial environment around it,” said Keith. “It’s important for us to be able to reflect that.”





    The retailer may be investing in digital, but it is maintaining its focus on the curated and experiential aspects of its offering across channels, because that’s what Keith says will set Selfridges apart from the seemingly endless e-commerce options. “Some of the pure-play retailers don’t have the same sort of richness that we can create with the fusion of physical and digital together,” said Keith.





    As Selfridges continues to evolve its retail model, it’s experimenting with circularity, recycling and repair through initiatives like “Project Earth,” where it set targets for materials and partnership shifts, and “Resellfridges,” its resale and rental service. In doing so, the retailer is making fundamental changes to the metrics it uses for success. “We’re not only changing the way people shop, we’re also changing the way we approach business,” says Keith, adding that the company’s focus will shift to more sustainable metrics like longevity of customer lifecycle, balancing margin opportunities, and changing the way it looks at acquisition.





    Related Articles:


    Can Selfridges Future-Proof the Department Store? Download the Case Study


    The BoF Professional Summit: What’s a Store For?


    Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business.

    • 28 min
    Karen Walker on Shedding Excess and Renewing Purpose

    Karen Walker on Shedding Excess and Renewing Purpose

    When the Covid-19 crisis struck, Karen Walker — known for her offbeat designs that have been worn by the likes of Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama, and carried by retailers such as Barneys and Harvey Nichols — found that she was propelled to shift the way she thought about her business, her mission as a designer and her community. Walker’s home country, New Zealand, battled the Covid-19 pandemic with a swift hand — its citizens saw only five weeks of lockdowns before the virus disappeared from within its borders. Despite the relative brevity of the country’s lockdowns, business owners and brands were still faced with the same existential crises and questions as the rest of the world. Now that people within the country have returned to something close to normal life (just without tourists), Walker notes several shifts in attitude: people want to treat themselves, but they also want to support the nation and local businesses that supported them. More generally, consumers have come out of lockdown more interested in buying products aligned with what they stand for.


    On this week’s BoF Podcast, Walker joins Tim Blanks in a conversation about dealing with change, defining desire and life on the other side of the Covid crisis.



    When New Zealand’s prime minister announced the country would go into lockdown in March, Walker had just finalised the next year’s budget. Instead of being able to sit back and do business as usual, she was forced to rethink everything and ask existential questions about her business that would go on to have a lasting impact. “If this goes on for six months or a year, and I really have to fight for this, what am I fighting for? What will my audience miss? What’s at stake? Why should I go into battle for this?” she said.





    After going through what Walker calls nature’s “forced contemplation,” she stopped thinking of herself as primarily a designer, but rather, a retailer who serves the needs of her community. As part of that mindset shift, Walker abandoned the traditional fashion calendar, for one, because she realised it was more in her customer’s interest to do so. Even though she sees the change as good, it was still unsettling. “Change is uncomfortable, alright, even if you know you have to do it — it’s still an uncomfortable place.” Walker said.





    Walker has observed transformations in what consumers think about and look for when shopping. First, they want to know what retailers stand for and how it aligns with what they care about. Second, they want products that are both beautiful and functional. “They want it to be a good product, not necessarily a new product. That speaks to how it’s made, how it’s designed, how it functions, the cost of its making — the unseen costs on people and planet,” said Walker. “Those are very much in people’s minds, and that’s what motivates me too. I’m not interested in just making more and more stuff.”





    Related Articles:


    Stella McCartney on the Business of Sustainable Design


    The Year That Changed the World


    Vanessa Kingori on the Reinvention of British Vogue


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    • 33 min
    Vanessa Kingori on the Reinvention of British Vogue

    Vanessa Kingori on the Reinvention of British Vogue

    British Vogue’s editorial transformation over the past four years has been widely documented, but changes on the business side are equally noteworthy. Vanessa Kingori, British Vogue’s first female publisher (who works alongside editor-in-chief Edward Enninful), has taken more of a consultative role with advertising clients, focusing on the health of their brands, not just reach and impressions. Today, brands are more interested in how they can create human connections and innovate through Vogue’s channels, rather than just buying space on the printed page.


    On the latest edition of The BoF Podcast, Kingori talks with BoF’s Imran Amed about the publication’s new business strategy, and how it ties in with the magazine’s focus on diversity, inclusion and sustainability.



    Cover launches still matter, but Kingori and Enninful are focusing on reflecting the multifaceted lives of their readers. With that, has come a change in how the magazine highlights and thinks about women. “The big shift here is [Edward] is taking the magazine from being about these beautiful dresses, to being about the woman in the dress,” said Kingori. “She wants beautiful things, but she also has a lifestyle. She has a career. She has other aspirations, she wants to accessorise a dress.”





    Though everyone seems to be ringing the alarm bells, according to Kingori, print is not dead. “There is no digital marketing that you could do that would be more effective. Our print magazine is our biggest marketing tool, and our social media platforms are our biggest agents,” she said.





    The title hasn’t shied away from making brands feel uncomfortable by bringing up societal issues, and it’s actually been of commercial benefit to British Vogue. “The reality is, we have increased our sales revenue and our digital audience in every single way, in every single metric since we started. Audiences are ready for those difficult conversations,” said Kingori.





    Related Articles:


    Vanessa Kingori’s Commercial Reboot of British Vogue


    Meghan Markle’s Vogue: When Activism Is More Fashionable Than Fashion


    What Anna Wintour’s Big Promotion Means for Condé Nast


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    • 30 min

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