Another day, another exciting line-up of GFW live! Talks at GFW 2017. The first talk took place in the morning with members of the buying team at BOOHOO. Sophie Rycroft (Lead Buyer) and Janine Smith (Head of Buying) shared insights into working as buyer within the competitive fashion industry. They shared the four qualities boohoo looks for in its buying staff: passion, agility, creativity, and teamwork. Despite the old cliché, Sophie and Janine insist that “passion for fashion” still is the fundamental element for success in the industry.
Following the ladies at Boohoo was Daniel Lismore’s talk on his new book “Be Yourself, Because Everyone Else is Already Taken”. Described as “UK’s Most Flamboyant Dresser”, Daniel punctuates the importance of wearing whatever one likes instead of conforming to society’s norms. Daniel also revealed that his flamboyant outfits began as something for him to hide behind and not for him to get attention for. However, the attention he did get for it definitely helped him relay his important message - an extensive collection of his clothes is currently exhibited in SCAD Fashion Museum, and his book is out now.
Next, talented acquisition specialist at Gap Inc, Kit Brown and his team, Chantal Williams, Meghan Brown, Evie Reddy, and Justin Newline shared with us their stories inside the famous All American brand: their previous employment, education, and a huge breadth of experience from marketing, buying designing, and visual merchandising. The highlight of the talk was no doubt GFW alumni Chantal Williams, who noted that her experience at GFW exposed her to people and connections that catapulted her career post GFW, instilling a sense of confidence in communications students who were at the talk in light of their pending future.
British designer Savannah Miller, former PA to Alexander McQueen, took to stage to discuss her journey from Central Saint Martins to having her own fashion label. Savannah’s roles in fashion can only be described as ‘diverse’: she started her denim brand Twenty8Twelve with sister Sienna Miller, before moving to high-street with Debenhams to create Nine by Savannah Miller, stressed that the key to success is to remember who you are, because ‘if you don’t speak through your own voice, people will see straight through you’.
Chief Executive of Boohoo Carole Kane sat down with Hilary Alexander to discuss the world of e-commerce and the age of internet retail experience. The beauty of e-commerce lies in its independence from the wait for selling figures, with the website updating every 15 minutes, as soon as something is low in stock, the company begins turnaround production that can materialise in as little as five days. This ability and speed is completely revolutionising the entire retail industry, actually making fashion “see today, wear tomorrow”.
Launching a brand goes hand-in-hand with good PR and Marketing, and we got to find out all about the behind the scenes process from Marks and Spencer’s Head of PR Jessica Harris and Head of Marketing Duncan Morris. 18 months before launch, the PR team at M&S begins research on macro and micro trends, customer needs and wants. From this, the design team begins work, with marketing following close behind developing press shows, advertising, and organising look books and more for media and industry. On the surface, designers seem to be the big figures behind every collection, but we learn that it really is a team work!
The last talk of the day was Julien MacDonald in Conversation with Hilary Alexander on his career as the king of glamour. His designs are seen everywhere on the red carpet, from Bella Hadid to Kim Kardashian. What is really interesting is that Julien said his designs are inspired by the people who wear them instead of clothes themselves, and the drive behind his designs a desire to make his customers feel like stars. With a MA in knitwear from RA, Julien reflected upon the fact that although what he does today is far from knitwear, it did serve as foundation and a good launching point for him. He summarises that while you should stay consistent with yourself, versatility and open-mind are also important because you never know where you can end up!
Words by Matilda Liu
Photography by Qavi Reyez, Chin Fan Yang, Tina Mayr