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Digital highlights from BoF’s reddit AMA


Imran Amed, founder and editor-in-chief of The Business of Fashion, hosted an AMA on reddit today. Unsurprisingly, the majority of questions surrounded how to break into the industry or how BoF itself became so successful – ideal promotion for the site’s new Careers marketplace of course.

Lots of safe play from Amed for more in-depth thoughts on the current state of affairs in fashion business otherwise (and by that I mean non-speculative), but a few top line points focused on digital worth highlighting nonetheless. Note the shout out particularly to UK-based companies in the first one:

Question: If you have to name three amazing e-commerce projects concerning selling fashion online (luxury, premium and mass), which one [sic] will you choose?

Amed’s answer: 1. Farfetch – omnichannel commerce for boutiques enabling them to reach a global market in a tough economy. 2. Lyst – a social curation site with one of the largest databases of fashion products. 3. Net a Porter – still a leader in the commerce and content space, and always innovating.

Question: My question is about your advice for building awareness for a startup brand – have you seen any really smart examples of how a designer / brand has generated the requisite “buzz” without investing thousands in a PR agency? 

Amed’s answer: Social media can do amazing things for a young brand, as you can build a direct relationship with the people who are interested in your brand. You don’t need millions of followers for this to be effective. It is more about the quality of your followers and fans, than the quantity.

Question: I would like to know your point of view about crowdfunding related to fashion. Do you think that big fashion label will use it one day? I think that could be a tool to have a more conscious production, and a way to cut off market research’s costs.

Amed’s answer: I have seen a lot of crowdfunding fashion startups come and go, and have yet to see a really great, workable model, apart from Threadless, which is great. Perhaps at some point the model will gain traction, but thus far, I have not been terribly impressed.

On another related note to Amed’s AMA, Rohit Thawani, director of digital strategy at TBWA\Chiat\Day, recently wrote this great piece outlining five things brands should NOT do on reddit. Do check it out.


#SXSW Interactive: Fashion’s greatest challenge lies in realigning production with communications

“If I were the CEO of a major fashion brand today, my focus would be on trying to compress the production cycle so it realigned with communications,” Imran Amed, founder and editor of The Business of Fashion, said at SXSW earlier this week.

Speaking on a panel called Who needs a fashion cycle? I’ve got social media, he explained that we’re at the beginning of a seismic change in the way consumers communicate with each other, make decisions, and ultimately purchase.  It’s only by changing the operational side of what we do, he said, that we’re going to be able to catch up.

As we all know, the internet has revolutionised this industry. Where once fashion shows were private trade events, now they’re more consumer facing than ever before, highlighted Michelle Sadlier, global digital communications consultant for Karla Otto International, and moderator of the session.

Designer collections used to only be seen by the public when they hit shop floors six months later – or the pages of the magazines just before. Now they’re viewable in real-time. The likes of Twitter and Instagram, not to mention bloggers and live-streams, mean consumers have the same level of access, at exactly the same time, as those invited to the catwalk presentations.

The issue of course, is that the operational side of the process is still the same. Rather than speeding up alongside, production has remained a lengthy and complicated system. The user is subsequently seeing something online, that isn’t available to buy for a further four to six months.

This gap, said Chris Morton, founder and CEO of fashion discovery site Lyst, means brands are missing out on capturing that “intent to purchase at the point of inspiration”.

He referenced a handful of companies attempting to address this: Burberry’s Runway to Reality initiative – where viewers can shop straight from the catwalk for delivery in just eight weeks – for example, as well as start-up Moda Operandi, which offers a similar solution across a variety of brand names.

Lyst itself launched a Runway Tracking service last September, which at least reminds consumers of the items they liked, by sending them a notification once they’re available to buy.

Amed however, said while each of these ideas is attempting to work around the issues, they’re not actually solving the problem. This is the industry’s biggest challenge, he added, and there’s no easy solution.

One of his suggestions was to create two separate events around the shows. One small and quiet for trade to see the season ahead, and the other a big, all-out affair for consumers, timed so it’s in sync with the actual season. So in other words, shifting the position of the fashion show as we know it today, so it sits at the end of the cycle rather than the beginning.

Of course to do so, would mean skipping a season, something Natalie Massanet, founder of Net-a-Porter, first suggested to Amed in an interview in 2010. No mean feat to pull off…

Which takes us back full circle to the very first line of this post. At the end of the day the company that masters how to realign the production cycle with the communications one, will be the one that finds success. And the likeliest way of achieving that right now, is by focusing first on compressing operations.

Watch this space.


BoF – AW11, the season that was

Imran Amed of The Business of Fashion always provides a great overview from an industry point of view on the catwalk season that was.

Just a week post Paris, and his autumn/winter 2011/12 round-up is in.

With the Galliano story dominating headlines around the world, both within fashion circles and out, it’s unsuprising Amed’s intro starts with somewhat of a “bitter” note. “Looking back, several of the most salient themes from this round of fashion weeks involve unsavoury behaviour, gossip and highly unprofessional comments from some of the industry’s most important figures,” he says.

He does however go on to highlight  the clothes (focusing on outerwear and prints), the growth of consumer participation and high profile clients in shows, the role of immediacy versus exclusivity (one of my personal favourite debate points at present), and the growing intensity of street style “paparazzi”.

“Think before we tweet”, is a particularly relevant point for this blog. It reads:

It seemed like just another fashion month, and then, with the high-profile meltdown of John Galliano, everything changed in a matter of hours. Soon, the fashion gossip mill was in a frenzy, turbocharged by Twitter which made the whole situation more ugly as the days went by and speculation about Galliano’s successor intensified after he was first suspended, and ultimately dismissed by LVMH.

A tweet by Derek Blasberg from backstage at the Katy Perry concert in Paris, citing an anonymous source which ‘confirmed’ the widespread rumour that Riccardo Tisci would be named Galliano’s successor set off further speculation on websites and blogs, who sometimes took Mr. Blasberg’s comments as though they had come straight from an official Dior press release. I found at least one website that took the Tisci rumour and reported it as fact, without any mention of the source at all.

But Mr. Galliano wasn’t alone. Rumours about the futures of Stefano Pilati, Hannah McGibbon, and Christophe Decarnin dogged designers and lit up the internet throughout Paris Fashion Week, creating a virtual feeding frenzy of immense proportions. We were an industry feeding on ourselves.

So dear fellow members of the fashion Twitterati, let’s think before we tweet. Careers and businesses can be impacted by what may seem like an innocent bit of speculation on Twitter, but can quickly turn into boldfaced headlines on major fashion websites, a hugely destabilising force at the most critical moments during the fashion calendar. We are all still learning how to use this powerful tool responsibly.

Check out the rest of the BoF post, here: Autumn/winter 2011 – the season that was