The British Fashion Council Host Fashion Forum Thought Leadership Event on Breaking Through Barriers in the Industry

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Yesterday, the British Fashion Council in collaboration with innovation consultancy TheCurrent, hosted the Fashion Forum, a thought leadership event bringing together industry leaders from fashion, investment and technology to collectively debate and share knowledge on the topic ‘Breaking Through Barriers’. Hosted by The Ned, the curated group of 140 business leaders and industry activists included representation from global brands, international retailers and designer businesses encouraged to join in the conversation on how to shape the industry to be fit for the future.

Fashion Forum is a think tank designed to debate the important issues of the sector while enabling UK fashion businesses to fulfill their growth potential through maximising opportunities presented by international expansion and technology. The event showcases businesses with high growth potential and encourages business connections to generate investment opportunities through networking between the curated list of individuals in design, investment, finance and technology alongside the broader fashion community of digital influencers, entrepreneurs and lawyers.  

From international expansion and changing business models to technological advances and positive fashion; the topics of the day included ‘Diversity in Fashion – Engaging in a More Progressive Conversation’, ‘Breaking Through Barriers – Creating Fast Growth in the Modern Era’ and ‘Winning in China – Understanding Expectations of the Chinese Consumer. To accompany the themes of the day, TheCurrent provided a curated ‘The Innovation Space’ - a collective of ten disruptive technology companies with innovative fashion applications for guests to demo.

Fashion Forum is hosted by Caroline Rush, CEO, British Fashion Council and Sian Westerman, President, BFC Business & Investment Pillar and is comprised of a series of panel discussions, brainstorms and workshops and speakers included Avery Baker, Blondey McCoy, Daniela Vega, Desirée Bollier, Edie Campbell, Elizabeth Paton, Jo Ellison, Kenya Hunt, Louise Troen, Pauline Bohl, Rodrigo Bazan, Sandrine Deveaux, Stavros Karelis, Stephanie Phair, Tommy Hilfiger and Ulric Jerome.

Key learnings from the day included:

  • Positive Fashion – Diversity and Sustainability are key issues for all businesses in the fashion industry. Panellists discussed ways of adapting simple practices to set business practices up for success. Bravery was a key theme and speakers encouraged brands to weave sustainability and diversity into commercial pitches and core business values. A panel discussing business conduct in the age of #MeToo urged powerful industry representatives to help educate the wider industry around ways to move towards true gender equality.
  • Customer, Customer, Customer – Putting the customer first is a priority and panellists urged businesses to focus on using data to truly understand their consumer and their needs. Speakers discussed using data to inspire the customer giving them a reason to engage with the brand both online and instore.
  • Technology and Innovation – TheCurrent presented the most exciting technologies shifting consumer expectations and their impact on the fashion industry.  Invisible Tech - delivering instant gratification giving brands greater awareness of consumer demands.  Intelligent Relevancy – truly understanding data to know your customer intimately, resulting in a better experience. Trusted Transparency - mirroring your customer’s values to create new, authentic bonds with them. Guests were encouraged to think about new technologies can help overcome organisational challenges as well as amplify a brand’s purpose, values and accountability. 

On the day, The British Fashion Council announced a new 2-year partnership with BFC patron and supporter, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection which will see them collectively support British fashion talent with a tailored programme of expert guidance in business development. The partnership is the latest development of The Bicester Village Shopping Collection’s innovative mentorship programme “The Business of Retail” and will give a handpicked group of BFC Fashion Trust, BFC Vogue Designer Fashion Fund alumni and established British brands tailored business development, mentoring and support.

Furthermore, the partnership will bring together this collective of established designer businesses in a direct to consumer experience through an exclusive and unique annual sample sale of curated British designers at Bicester Village in Autumn 2018. A first for both organisations which will put into practice “The Business of Retail” development which designers will receive as part of the partnership’s mentorship programme. 


Power Down to Power Further hosted by Equinox
Moderator: Gentry Long, Equinox Managing Director 
Justin Jacobs, Equinox Master Trainer & Sleep Coach
Mimi Xu, DJ, Producer, Composer
Vicky Lee, Digital Fashion Influencer 

Ulric Jerome, Chief Executive, MATCHESFASHION.COM in conversation with Lauren Indvik, Head of News & Features, Vogue International  

Diversity in Fashion - Engaging in a more progressive conversation 
Moderator: Kenya Hunt, Deputy Editor and Fashion Features Director, Elle Magazine 
John Horner, Managing Director, Models 1 
Munroe Bergdorf, Social Activist, Broadcaster & Model 
Naomi Shimada, Model 

Sustainability 101 - How change is filtering throughout the industry 
Moderator: Rachel Arthur, Chief Intelligence Officer, TheCurrent
Daniella Vega, Director of Sustainability, Selfridges 
Eva Kruse, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda
Martine Jarlgaard, Founder & Creative Director, Martine Jarlgaard London 
Pauline Bohl, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Burberry

BlueSnap: How to Protect Your Business in the Digital-First Economy  

Breaking through barriers - Creating fast growth in the modern era
Moderator: Lauren Indvik, Head of News & Features, Vogue International
Han Chong, Founder & Creative Director, Self-Portrait
Nicolaj Reffstrup, CEO, Ganni
Rodrigo Bazan, CEO, Thom Browne

Winning in China - understanding expectations of the Chinese consumer
Moderator: Desirée Bollier, Chair and Global Chief Merchant, Value Retail 
Angela Farrugia, EVP/Group Managing Director, CAA Global Brands Group
Bora Aksu, Designer & Owner, Bora Aksu 
Paul Tyce, UK Country Head, 

Whalar: Liberating the creative voice: elevating your brand with the next generation of influencers

Real Innovation for Today’s Fashion Consumer: Rachel Arthur, Chief Intelligence Officer, TheCurrent

Cutting Out the Middleman - Lessons on engagement from direct to consumer disruptors 
Moderator: Liz Bacelar, Founder, TheCurrent
Jen Rubio, Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer, Away
Tim Brown, Co-Founder & CEO, AllBirds
Toby Darbyshire, CEO, Heist Studios

A New Code of Conduct - The changing face of business in the age of #metoo 
Moderator: Elizabeth Paton, European Styles Correspondent, NY Times
Ciara Byrne, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Condé Nast 
Edie Campbell, Model, Journalist, Equestrian & Activist
Louise Troen, VP of International Marketing & Communications, Bumble

The Culture Builders: Haute couture culture - creating a high-performance culture in the fashion business
Future Flagships - The new role of brick-and-mortar through the lens of digital 
Moderator: Liz Bacelar, Founder, TheCurrent
Edgardo Osorio, Founder & Creative Director, Aquazzura 
Sandrine Deveaux, Managing Director, Farfetch Store of the Future
William Kim, CEO, All Saints

Harnessing the Hype - How Luxury can learn from Streetwear culture 
Moderator: Tammy Smulders, President, VICE Fashion & Luxury Group 
Blondey McCoy, Artist, Designer, Skater & Model
Ferdinando Verderi, Creative Director & Founding Partner, Johannes Leonardo
Stavros Karelis, Founder and Buying Director, MACHINE-A

rewardStyle: Redefining influencers: How to drive ROI for your business

Tommy Hilfiger, Designer & Founder and Avery Baker, Chief Brand Officer
in conversation with Jo Ellison, Fashion Editor, Financial Times 

The Innovation Space curated by TheCurrent: Antavo, Bumble Bizz, FTSY, Hero, Heuritech, Kino-mo, Restory, Save Your Wardrobe, SplitBase, Wide Eyes and Zigzag

The British Fashion Council would like to thank TheCurrent, The Ned, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection and DHL for their support of Fashion Forum as well as all speakers, moderators and workshop hosts for donating their time and sharing their insight and knowledge.

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