On February 11th, Fashinnovation hosted the 4th Worldwide Talks. The digital summit brought together inspiring voices from all over the world, to discuss topics such as inclusivity, equity, sustainability, and innovation and to reimagine the importance of “acting in the NOW”. Here are a few of the takeaways:
To open this season’s talks, our founders Jordana & Marcelo Guimaraes, received Hindou Ibrahim (SDG Advocate of The United Nations Secretary-General) as well as Annemarie Hou (Executive Director of A.I., Un Office for Partnerships). This conversation kicked off the day with an emphasis on the importance of the connection between nature and fashion.
Dana Thomas (Journalist & Best Selling Author) followed suit by bringing up a discussion on her latest book – Fashionopolis – displaying to the audience that we all live in a connected system, in which an understanding of how it works is a must to make the changes necessary to drive the industry forward!
Sofia Guellaty (Founder & Editor in Chief, Mille World) was the moderator for this conversation, where she initiated a speech reinforcing the importance of shopping consciousness. This conversation also portrayed that it’s essential to pay attention to your surroundings when it comes to supporting local brands, which can be a “game-changer” in the Ambiental & social impact.
Hassan Pierre (CEO & Co-Founder, Maison de Mode) and Tania Fares (Co-Founder & Co-Chair, Fashion Trust Arabia) discussed why authenticity is one of the positive takeaways of this pandemic. The panelists also stated that no longer needs to travel to traditional fashion capital, such as Paris and London, to succeed in fashion, as you can truly make a difference in the industry anywhere in the world – with this being said, they went further to speak of the richness behind Middle Eastern brands and the great importance of supporting, promoting & buying from them!
The next talk took its audience to Moscow, where Aizel Trudel (Founder, Aizel Group) spoke about how the marketplace for retail stores in Russia is expanding and has space for big companies to find consumers in there. The conversation was moderated by Liana Satenstein (Senior Fashion Writer, VOGUE) where she fluidly brought out the CEO’s professional trajectory.
Trudel’s journey began with the creation of the first multi-brand store in her hometown, bringing together renowned designers including Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs, as well as start-ups to give them a platform to scale.
In a crisis, the key is to use creativity and see what can be assembled to help a business stay afloat, but also to help those around you. According to Aizel, during Covid, not only did the sales kept increasing, but they were also able to assist brands in staying “alive”. In this scenario, Trudel highlights the importance of a brand-consumer connecting maintaining an open channel between them, and showing transparency.
Fashion is Global Inclusivity via Personal Experience
Empowered women empower other women – was the motto of the panel. Highlighting the importance of inclusivity and equality when it pertains to representation. Jordan Emanuel (Model/Philanthropist & Founder, 844 Swim), Sydney Maisel Straitman (Director, Commonwealth Packaging) & Elle B. Mambetov (Founder & Designer, Elle B. Zhou), moderated by Ayesha Barenblat (Founder & CEO, Remake), created this dialogue, also highlighting that there’s no trend that each person needs to follow, what they portray is the definition of style.
“Women haven’t been empowered, historically speaking, to activate multiple sides of themselves and as we continue to branch out in any interest that we have, it’s going to cause a little discomfort”, said Emanuel during the conversation. “To make a change, women have to be brave and disruptive, so regardless of the skin color, body weight, and religion, it’s possible to feel confident and beautiful wearing what you want, whatever that is”, the model continued.
The panelists also discussed the importance of transparency throughout the supply chain. In assuring that it’s a viable product, the company has to pay attention to every step of its production. From the supplier, to design, to packaging – it all counts!
“Taking business as a tool for forest preservation”, said François-Ghislain Morrilion (Co-Founder, Veja) as he took us through his entrepreneurial journey, moderated by Fiona Sinclair Scott (Global Editor, CNN Style).
Morillion and his partner weren’t interested in simply advising companies on how to be sustainable, rather they wanted action. After carefully studying sustainable development projects and expanding their knowledge base on the topic, the duo founded Veja. The brand’s products use raw materials derived from the Amazon Rainforest. Veja contributes to the social and economic sustainability of the producers and the region while preserving the Rainforest.
Start-ups are the face of innovation. A company that is launched with a revolutionary idea has a lot to bring to market, especially, when working with a sustainable and socially conscious.
Moderated by Dominic-Madori (Reporter, Business Insider) – joined by Veronica Chou (Founder & CEO, Everybody & Everyone), Laith Murad (CMO, Fanvestor), Gary A. Wassner (CEO, Hilldun Corporation), Brian Rainey (CEO, Gooten), and Rohan Kapoor (Venture Capital Partner Manager, Gorgias), discussed that to build a business today, it is essential to find an online space as part of the business model.
Speakers focused on brands’ responsibility to foster customer knowledge on sustainability, both on product and human capital levels.
This panel was a door opener for entrepreneurs to show their creative and innovative products, giving them a spotlight, in front of judges, investors, and the entire Fashinnovation audience.
Wilson Griffin presented Recurate — software that works with e-commerce to help them with their peer-to-peer resale, moving it directly into their website. Valentine Aseyo reinvented the men’s leggings, bringing together comfort and technology via Matador Meggings. David Friedrichs explained that Cerqular makes online shopping more accessible, bringing together sustainable brands and consumers, hand in hand.
Last but not least were Alex Ciorapciu and Symone Lewis. Ciorapciu gave a tour on how autoRetouch is the key tool to perfecting e-commerce imagery, and Lewis spoke of a pain point for women – keeping “off the shoulder” looks intact.
To be sustainable and committed to the environment, a company has to be aware of every step of production, from the supply chain to market introduction. Moderated by Kerry Bannigan (Founder, Conscious Fashion Campaign) alongside Jill Dumain (CEO, Bluesign Technologies), reinforced the importance of transparency in achieving these goals.
According to Dumain, brands no longer have the choice to stray away from sustainability and transparency as it’s becoming the driving force behind customer behavior. “Once you see the faces of each individual it’s no longer just a country or a factory… it’s human beings and they are all a part of the supply chain” says Dumain.
As time passes, more disruptive and powerful women are taking control of the reins as creative and innovative protagonists in the fashion industry. With a feminist and sensitive touch, Shelley Zalis (Founder, The Female Quotient) guided this conversation, featuring confident women, that are leading the way, in the spotlight, to inspire others to join the journey.
Marci Zaroff (Founder & CEO, Ecofashion Corp), alongside Deborah Sawaf (Founder/Designer & CEO, Thalé Blanc), Nathalie Ballout (Founder, Empwrmnt), and Charlotte O’Sullivan (Global Marketing & Digital Director, Mulberry), illustrate how women are the driving force to change.
When Covid started companies had to reinvent to survive, however, though there were difficulties, it’s important to take notice of the silver linings. The speakers highlighted that the pandemic allowed companies to think outside the box and better align their relationship and purpose with the consumer.
According to Dumain, brands no longer have the choice to stray away from sustainability and transparency as environmental and social sustainability is becoming deriving forces behind customer behavior.
Fashion is Disruptive
To innovate, one must disrupt. Intertwining art with fashion, creativity with industry, and fostering collaboration between artists is not only disruptive but also innovative. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (Artistic Director, United Colors of Benetton) relayed this message beautifully when interviewed by Alexia Niedzielski (Co-Founder, System Magazine).
It gave the audience a throwback to Castelbajac’s career and his creations that mixed fashion with beauty, style with creativity. Castelbajac affirmed that “imagination is back to power” so that companies surf in the idea that launching a product or collection for the first time can be challenging yet positive.
As technology is essential to today’s business world, companies have to learn how to use it in a way that will benefit and enhance their business model. An understanding of shifts in consumer demand, expectations, and behavior is necessary to create innovative technologies.
With this in mind, Fredrik Timour (Head of Fashion Innovation, Swedish Fashion Council), guided this conversation alongside panelists including Sandra Campos (CEO, Project Verte), Daina Burnes (Founder & CEO, Bold Metrics), Ganesh Subramanian (Founder & CEO, Stylumia), Nikhita Iyar (Head of Strategic Business Development, Moxtra) and Emma Lee (Head of Fashion, Tmall Global & Kaola).
Social media has given power and voice to the consumer. Companies must have an understanding of the consumer’s priority – who is looking for products with a purpose. They now purchase experience, which evokes a need to feel represented as well as to see themselves in what they are buying. Digital is unavoidable and companies have to make sure they present and engage online.
Confidence, style, and comfort are characteristics that are now merging, which is a new phenomenon in the fashion industry, especially for women. Fashion is comfort that begins underneath.
Marie Driscoll (Managing Director of Luxury & Fashion, Coresight Research), led the conversation with Holly Wilson (Vice President of Design, Soma Intimates). Prioritizing not only sustainability but also fashion, Wilson’s work is focused on making women feel beautiful.
“They will have lingerie designed by women. In other words, the product was made through women’s eyes. Consumers making products for themselves guarantee that their needs are being answered”, said Holly.
As the panel highlighted, brands must align with the consumers’ values, so that the consumers can identify themselves with the products they are using and the companies that they are buying from.
Fashion has the power to express what you’re feeling through clothing. Put yourself together and feel beautiful while getting ready to go to work, which will help in your productivity, even if when working from home, said the panelist in this talk.
Alexandra Finkel (Director of Talent Acquisition and Inclusion, Bustle Digital Group) moderated this panel with Kirsten Bowen (SVP Merchandising and Design, White House Black Market). They discussed how the pandemic brought up different ways of communication, new habits, and the necessity that companies had to figure out as to how their businesses would keep working in this new reality.
Companies have to adapt their product to stay relevant to consumers without losing their brand identity. By coming up with products that the customers can relate to as they grow their online community base, brands can conquer consumers to be their ambassadors.
A trend is what is “hot” at this very moment, it goes in cycles. On the other hand, style is about expressing yourself. Led by Jessica C. Andrews (Deputy Fashion Editor, Bustle), this panel highlighted Melloney Birkett (Vice President of Design, Chicos), to discuss the importance of being authentic and true-to-self.
Bringing timeless pieces with its own identity is what gives the company success. A piece can be relevant, authentic, modern, and inspiring, but also functional and comfortable. It’s possible to reinvent in fashion, keeping your style and essence, but also being social and sustainability conscious.
Birkett highlighted that the key to maintaining relevance, a company must start with something special, showing identity which will captivate the consumer’s eyes. Being authentic is being true to yourself.
Creativity, artistic vision, self-expression, and passion for what you do are the key pillars to success. Understanding that fashion can collaborate with any area, gives a ton of innovation opportunities along with creativity.
In this panel, Trevor “Trouble” Andrew – the creative mind behind Gucci Ghost – discussed with Elizabeth Segran (Senior Staff Writer, Fast Company) how being himself allowed him to find his personal style and gain creative vision.
The artist conveyed to the audience how “Gucci Ghost” was born and how it wound up getting him to create for the Maison. According to Trevor, he was “invisible… a ghost”, but with time he transferred some of the brand’s power to himself and that’s what helped him to start creating and changing the brand’s perspective. “If you have a vision, if you follow it and commit to it, it can become real”, says Trevor.
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Aligning transparency, authenticity, and purpose, Raissa Gerona (Chief Brand Officer, Revolve), spoke with moderator Pandora Amoratis (US Style Director, Daily Mail). The two powerhouses discussed how consumer behavior has changed and how brands must acknowledge and adapt, to give the users what they need.
When working with fashion, it’s important to be aware that it keeps changing. Fashion is fluid, particularly when using creativity. And that’s what Revolve did: expanding product offerings, but also found ways to generate users that were not only engaged but also educated in the marketing content.
Why put a new piece in circulation, if you can exchange, reuse, and innovate with the already existing ones? Manish Chandra (Founder & CEO, Poshmark) was interviewed by Jordyn Holman (Retail Reporter, Bloomberg News), where they discussed responsible shopping, which includes a circular economy based and prioritizing sustainability.
In other words, the clothes get a new life and purpose when more people get to use them without throwing them in the trash. So, with this, new practices like finding the style tribe you identify yourself with and being creative while getting dress are the key to be stylish with responsibility.
Interviewed by Bridget Foley (Former Executive Editor, WWD), the designer gave a holistic view of the market, showing that fashion is not only pragmatic but a philosophy. The time is now to re-think the experience of physical shopping without losing its essential experience.
To think that shopping is only a purchase of new things, the brands and the consumer must keep in mind that collaborative effort, bringing together different experiences, contributes not only to fashion but to make the change around the world.
If progress means moving forward, fashion is the word that comes right after it. New ideas that are not only innovative but also technological, have gained space to show that this industry, in need of a revolution, has already begun the process.
In this conversation, Lewis Perkins (President, Apparel Impact Institute), spoke with Tonne Goodman (Former Fashion Director & Sustainability Editor, VOGUE). Together they analyzed how the pandemic accelerated these changes and brought a future filled with sustainability and new ideas.
“Fashion is going to be so exciting,” Steve Madden (Founder, Creative & Design Chief) said. “There’s going to be so much newness and so many interesting stuff taking shape and if that’s the case, I’ll be making it.”
Madden said that to him the word “hustle” held different meanings in various parts of his life, but it has always guided him. “The key to my success was speed to market” mixed with a dedicated team. The ghost of Wall Street affirmed that the platform is important but it doesn’t matter to him – because at the end of the day, it’s all about getting the hottest shoe out.
The ghost of Wall Street affirmed that the platform is important but it doesn’t matter to him, in the end, it’s all about getting the hottest shoe out. Technology, he says, “is good for footwear and through applying it to a beautiful design with a great strategy, can lead to impressive results”.
Madden spoke about his career, how it grew, but also opened his heart when talking about his time in prison saying that “even in dark times, there’s a silver lining”. He continued to say that “suffering can build character”.
The pandemic we are living in now is making people “getting out of their pajamas and getting into their high heels”. So, when everything goes back to normal, “fashion is going to be so exciting. There’s going to have so much newness and so much interesting stuff and if that’s the case, I’ll be making it”, he declared.
The full event is available on Fashinnovation’s YouTube channel. Check it out!