The British Fashion Council (BFC) held a star-studded event that saw the likes of Edward Enninful OBE, Editor in Chief, British Vogue and Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO & Founder of Goop in attendance. The two-day event was centred around ‘Investing in the future’. The conversation among the attendees varied from business growth to sustainability, with the main points of talk focused on how to shape the industry going forward.
Defining A New Model for British Fashion
BFC Fashion Forum is an annual think tank and thought leadership event that brings together industry leaders from the fashion, investment and technology to collectively debate and share knowledge. It 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.
Day one concentrated on ‘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 ‘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.’
Key Findings and Takeaways From The Fashion Forum
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 wants and having a dialogue with them is vital. 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 the consumer has seen much growth recently and has built several businesses quickly. However, don’t rule out wholesale – with a suitable partner, it can generate valuable brand awareness.
In the early days, it is essential 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 excellent at storytelling, and we should use the platform we have to educate. The younger audience is vital – we need to listen to them and give them what they want. There is so much to do, but more prominent brands can help make changes that smaller brands can benefit from. Act now, don’t wait.
Positive fashion and sustainability initiatives are imperative from an ecological and consumer standpoint. The case is being made for the circular economy, and while there is a way to go, many initiatives are 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.