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The British Fashion Council (BFC) concluded the fifth annual BFC Fashion Forum on Tuesday with a key note talk from Edward Enninful OBE, Editor in Chief, British Vogue and Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO & Founder, goop. The event was expanded this year to run over to two days allowing for the second day of the event to focus on Positive Fashion, a key stream of work for the BFC. The overarching theme for this year’s event was ‘Investing in the future’ with content co-curated by innovation consultancy, Current Global, designed to encourage conversation around everything from business growth to sustainability.
BFC Fashion Forum is an annual think tank and thought leadership event that brings together industry leaders from fashion, investment and technology to collectively debate and share knowledge. The event showcases businesses with high growth potential and encourages business connections to generate investment opportunities through networking between the curated list of individuals in design, investment, finance and technology alongside the broader fashion community of digital influencers, entrepreneurs and lawyers. This highly curated network takes time out of their businesses to join the conversation about how to shape the industry going forward.
From international expansion and changing business models to technological advances; the topics of day one included ‘Building the next big British brand’, ‘How data and experience are transforming retail’, ‘How new business models are affecting culture’, ‘Working smart, not hard: Driving efficiency in the supply chain’, ‘Managing challenges and driving growth’, ‘Investing in innovation’. Day two focused on Positive Fashion and included topics such as, ‘The role of AI for sustainable supply chains’, ‘Designing for circularity’, ‘Moving the needle: Creating a fair supply chain’, ‘How female leaders can thrive’ and ‘Where sustainable innovation is needed’.
BFC Fashion Forum is hosted by Stephanie Phair, Chairman, British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush CBE, CEO, British Fashion Council and Sian Westerman, President, BFC Business Pillar and BFC Fashion Trust co-chair and is comprised of a series of panel discussions, brainstorms and workshops with speakers which included Chris Morton, Lyst, Christopher Wylie, H&M, Edward Enninful OBE, British Vogue Elizabeth Paton, NY Times, Emma Grede, Good American, Gwyneth Paltrow, goop Henrietta Rix & Orlagh McCloskey, Rixo, Ian Pattison, Google, Jo Ellison, Financial Times, Jo Malone CBE, Jo Malone, Jocelyn Wilkinson, Burberry, John McPheters, Stadium Goods, Michael Beutler, Kering, Nick Molnar, Clearpay, Paul Dillinger, Levi’s, Stuart Ford, The Woolmark Company, Susanne Tide-Frater, FARFETCH and Roland Mouret, Roland Mouret.
The BFC has published two new reports on the fashion industry that were distributed at the BFC Fashion Forum 2019 which are available to download from the website of the British Fashion Council.
Key findings from the two days included:
Brand & Community
Defining your brand values and ingraining them into your business is more important than ever – particularly when looking for investment. The customer is even more discerning, unpicking and understanding what the customer really wants and having dialogue with them is key. It’s important to involve customers in your marketing and product development. If they are part of the process, they will love the product even more.
The Retail Mix
The Highstreet isn’t dead, translating the brand from online to physical stores is more important than ever. Brands must focus on store experience rather than just the transaction; customers want a physical space to engage with brands. Direct to consumer has seen a lot of growth recently and has built a number of businesses quickly. However, don’t rule out wholesale – with a good partner it can generate valuable brand awareness.
In the early days it is important to co-create culture with your team and adopt a co-created code, it can’t be a mandate – that is how you get your employees to buy in. Workplaces need to adapt so they work for everyone. Workplaces need to make everyone feel included – a diverse workforce will equal a better representation of the customer. Diversity is not just for marketing and PR it should be across the whole business and represented by the team businesses employ.
The industry is responsible for making a change. Fashion is great at storytelling and we should use the platform we have to educate. The younger audience is key – we need to listen to them and give them what they want. There is so much to do but bigger brands can help make changes that smaller brands can benefit from. Act now, don’t wait.
Positive fashion and sustainability initiatives are an imperative from an ecological and consumer stand point. The case is being made for the circular economy and while there is a way to go there are many initiatives exploring how to effect meaningful change. The Fashion industry needs to come together as a whole, with the largest companies driving the initiative – self regulation and incentives for good actions are preferable to legislation which might not deliver the right outcome The British Fashion Council would like to thank event partners, Clearpay, Current Global, DHL, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, The Ned and The Woolmark Company and our masterclass and workshop hosts, ConsenSys, Fashion For Good, Accenture, Powerfront, Quibit, Shopify, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Innovate UK and Verisium. Thanks goes to the BFC Fashion Trust for curating the closing talk.
The Innovation Space curated by Current Global: CLO Virtual Fashion, CoGo Connecting Good, Heuritech, Hologrm, MERCAUX, MOBIRY, OBSESS, Powerfront Inc, QUBIT, Reflaunt, Shopify, Social Vend, SYTE and Verisium
A detailed list of Fashion Forum 2019 Topics and Speakers can be found on the website of the British Fashion Council.