Institute of Positive Fashion

International Women's Day 2021

08 March 2021
In celebration of #InternationalWomensDay, inspirational women who are working at the forefront of the British Fashion industry share their perspectives on why this annual moment of recognition is vital, how collaboration through mentoring schemes creates a positive working environment and why confidence and curiosity go a long way.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?


"Collective action will always bring change. Women of every generation have raised their voices and fought to remove barriers that create an easier life for generations following them, and so International Women’s Day, for me, is a reminder of where we have been, what we have achieved, and where we want to go." - Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, BFC Ambassador for Positive Change

"IWD for me is a day to celebrate the women that inspire me and give my time to platforms that help lift up and empower others." - Caroline Rush, BFC CEO

"It is a moment to take stock and see how far we have come in some respects and how far we yet to go in others. It is also a moment to celebrate the women and men who have done so much to drive equality of opportunity and a more balanced society." - Stephanie Phair, BFC Chair

"Wonderful opportunity to celebrate women and to reflect on how far we have come but also to highlight that there is so much work still to be done." - Laura Strain, BFC 

"It’s always International Women’s Day for me." - Sarah Mower, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent & American Vogue Chief Fashion Critic

"As for International Women’s Day, it is a great idea to have an annual spotlight, but the work needs to go on 365 days a year."- Angelica Cheung, BFC Ambassador in Asia

"This year, I hope we can use international women’s day  to make a real difference to young women who need our help more than ever before." - Sian Westerman, BFC Non-Executive Director

"I come from a background of incredible women my Mother who arrived in their country with only a suitcase at 16 years old, my spectacular grandmother who was fiercely independent and lost my grandfather at a very young age was widowed in her mid 20’s and bought up three children alone. My other grandmother who came with my mum on the long journey by boat from Cyprus. She was a beam of light of love she was our constant support showed how boundless love and kindness and determination can make anything possible. My brilliant brave sister who has battled cancer and still finds ways to see the rainbow. These women are what women’s day means to me their strength their love their fearlessness their determination have made me the woman I am today." - Sophia Neophitou, BFC Press Advisory Committee 


What would your advice be for young women starting out today?


"Gain as many varied experiences as you can, through work and outside. A career is not linear and takes many winding paths. Enjoy the journey." - Stephanie Phair, BFC Chair

"Confidence and curiosity go a very long way.   Opportunities come in the most unexpected places so don’t be afraid to seek them out." - Laura Strain, BFC 

"Be assured that what you feel and think is valid. Gang up with girlfriends to silence the negative voices that society implants in our heads. Explore all the free learning that’s out there about culture and histories which aren’t taught in school. All the experience and knowledge you can get through whatever route - podcasts, the work of @fashionrevolution and open resources like the Condenast sustainability glossary will put you ahead, because older people don’t know this!Have fun. Question everything. People are more willing to give advice than you think." - Sarah Mower, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent & American Vogue Chief Fashion Critic

"Never take no for an answer, never let the doubters into your world, everything is possible for you, the world is your oyster. Be tenacious and focused and optimistic and determined always." - Sophia Neophitou, BFC Press Advisory Committee 

"I like to think that I have passed on wisdom and advice wherever possible to the younger generation of women. Mentoring, helping and guiding is vitally important, but at the end of the day, individuals have to make their own choices and learn from their own mistakes. My general advice is to experiment at a young age – have as many experiences as possible, so you can see what suits you best and what  you are really passionate about. Take risks, have a go rather than looking back in later life and wish you had done things differently." - Angelica Cheung, BFC Ambassador in Asia

"Be brave – and don’t let fear of failure hold you back." - Sian Westerman, BFC Non-Executive Director


How important do you think mentoring is in generating opportunity?


"Mentoring is a two-way street, you gain as much as you give and I do believe it is important. But don't feel that you need one mentor to cover it all, in the same way that different friends bring something different to the table, learn from many people along the way." - Stephanie Phair, BFC Chair

"Mentoring can be really beneficial but shouldn’t be forced.  Mentoring works best when it happens organically and the chemistry is right."-Laura Strain, BFC 

"I’ve owed my entire career to four inspirational women at magazines and newspapers, from the age of 23. So yes, paying back and playing forward - discovering and encouraging young people - is to my mind not only a duty but what this changing industry always needs. Especially today, as new generations know much more than we do." - Sarah Mower, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent & American Vogue Chief Fashion Critic

"It’s incredibly important we should always find ways to help and support anyway we can. Giving people the opportunity of experience  and just helping centre their focus and helping them see there is nothing they cannot do."- Sophia Neophitou, BFC Press Advisory Committee 

"There are way more opportunities for women than when I was growing up – but still not enough, that glass ceiling still exists, along with antiquated attitudes.  My daughter is, gratifyingly, growing up in a world where women astronauts and CEOs are no longer a novelty.In my case, I was not afraid to make major career changes. I was in business but always hankered after a career in journalism, starting initially in a humble newspaper role before, ultimately, becoming editor in chief of Vogue China.

During my 15 years with Vogue China I made a point of featuring role-model women, often individuals who started with nothing more than a dream. Some were in finance, some in fashion, some in sports. In fact only last week, I was with a young woman from an inland province who became a China surfing champion through a combination of skill, hard work and determination. She had a  wild dream and made it come true. I recently made another major career change, become a venture partner with Sequoia Capital, although still very much involved with fashion, identifying new opportunities. It is exciting and challenging, and allows me to meet young women who are passionate, dedicated and determined." - Angelica Cheung, BFC Ambassador in Asia

"It has always been a moment to celebrate Women and their many achievements.  This year  I am seeing it slightly differently – a chance to #ChangeAGirlsLife through supporting the Prince’s Trust campaign. This year, a shocking statistic at the beginning of the pandemic was 78% of the job losses were women and, now, a year later, an estimated 1.5 million young women have lost income since the coronavirus pandemic began. Therefore, for the vulnerable young women who reach out to The Prince’s Trust, life is now harder than ever before. As an Ambassador, I have seen what an enormous difference The Prince’s Trust makes to young people in real need of a helping hand." - Sian Westerman, BFC Non-Executive Director



Share on

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience and for analytic purposes. By clicking I agree, you give your consent for us to set cookies. View more in the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.