Joshua Williams, the host of NewsBytes and creator of the weekly podcast series, Retail Revolution, has been gaining attention for his in-depth conversations with special guest speakers such as photographer Nigel Barker (America's Next Top Model) and Luisa Herrera-Garcia (SVP of Production at John Varvatos). A professor and consultant, Williams is currently the MPS Associate Director at Parsons School of Design and is often asked to speak at events worldwide as well as appear on news broadcasts to share his expertise on current issues in the fashion industry and fashion higher education. Also the founder of Fashion Consort, a consultancy that draws on a deep network of experts and professionals to produce content that inspires, entertains and educates businesses, students and consumers. Williams launched his short-form podcast in February as a more personal and intimate way to connect with an audience. Less than a year later, News Bytes is being distributed in partnership with FashionUnited to expand its international reach.
Tell us about Fashion Consort, how did it begin?
I started Fashion Consort to really rethink what fashion could be. After 13 years in e-commerce and online marketing, I realized early on as a VP of Marketing and a Director of Branding/Web Strategy that there was a democratization of the fashion conversation. Today, our clients have included Vh1 Save the Music, Miguelina and WindowsWear. Fashion Consort is on a mission to facilitate learning and knowledge, and to engage in open and honest conversations, all with a goal to better our shared future.
Your podcasts seem to focus on current issues, innovations and authentic human connections. How do you think the way we connect has changed because of the global pandemic?
Before the pandemic, I’d always have to put on my armour going into business meetings. I feel that this crisis has made the fashion industry peer behind the screen, meaning it has allowed us to know more about one another on a personal level. During video calls, we’re now seeing a glimpse into the homes of major designers, executives or getting to know our colleagues in their home life. I hope that when we come back from this crisis, this more personal connection between everyone in the industry will remain.
How do you think these changes have affected the fashion industry creatively?
I think there has also been a renaissance of creativity that’s happening as the fashion industry is propelled into adapting to new forms of content creation and technology. Today, it’s Tik Tok, but tomorrow there will be a new trend on the horizon.
Did you always want to work in fashion and can you share any advice with young professionals just about to enter this industry?
I’ve always been curious and coming from a theater and music background, a natural creator. It was while I was writing and marketing Broadway shows that I tried my hand at producing a fashion show. That experience made me see how fast paced the fashion industry is when it comes to realizing ideas, which was not the case in theater. It really ignited my interest in this industry of creativity and commerce.
When did you start recording podcasts and why?
As a fashion consultant, I help train companies, so I wanted to find a better and more engaging way to communicate and educate people. Podcasts are a great way to engage listeners differently, in a large part because most people these days are so busy and may not have time to read long articles.
Around February of this year, I started News Bytes to go underneath and to really get behind the surface of the glimmering image of fashion. For example, when I interview top executives or celebrities, I ask them what issues they face in their jobs or the struggles they have to overcome to remain at the top. In the realm of fashion education, with all the students graduating digitally, I discuss pressing issues such as how will they find jobs in the design industry virtually.
I was already teaching retail in class to graduate students at Parsons right before Covid hit and I had all of these special guests, CEOs and executives that I wanted to bring into class, but couldn’t anymore. So with my colleague, Christopher Lacy, we started Retail Revolution and recorded ten episodes within a week.
Then, we realized that more and more people were tuning in. Something that came out of just trying to help solve a problem now has around 500 downloads per episode. I see these weekly podcasts as a platform where my guest speakers and I can be critical, offer different perspectives and a space to have open discussions addressing topics that matter to the industry from all angles. As a fashion educator, I’m constantly speaking to students who are the zeitgeist of their generation and the demographic these fashion companies market to. I see the News Bytes podcast series as an honest platform for open dialogue, to discuss ideas and find solutions.
How did the partnership between Fashion Consort and FashionUnited come about and what do you envision with this collaboration?
Around September, my weekly podcasts were getting traction online. At the same time, I was also featured in the case study FashionUnited contributor, Jackie Mallon, reported on Black Lives Matter in a fashion school. I’ve always appreciated FashionUnited’s unique stories, so I reached out directly to Esmerij, the editor-in-chief. We hit it off immediately and I see our partnership as a vehicle in exploration and sharing of knowledge to interact with an even wider audience.
Listen to News Bytes podcast by clicking here >>
Photos: courtesy of Joshua Williams