The British Fashion Council Host Fashion Forum, a Thought Leadership Event Focused on Investing in the Future

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The British Fashion Council (BFC) concluded the fifth annual BFC Fashion Forum on Tuesday with a key note talk from Edward Enninful OBE, Editor in Chief, British Vogue and Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO & Founder, goop. The event was expanded this year to run over to two days allowing for the second day of the event to focus on Positive Fashion, a key stream of work for the BFC. The overarching theme for this year’s event was ‘Investing in the future’ with content co-curated by innovation consultancy, Current Global, designed to encourage conversation around everything from business growth to sustainability.

BFC Fashion Forum is an annual think tank and thought leadership event that brings together industry leaders from fashion, investment and technology to collectively debate and share knowledge. 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.  This highly curated network takes time out of their businesses to join the conversation about how to shape the industry going forward. 

From international expansion and changing business models to technological advances; the topics of day one included ‘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 Positive Fashion and included topics such as, ‘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’.

BFC Fashion Forum 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 and is comprised of a series of panel discussions, brainstorms and workshops with speakers which included Chris Morton, Lyst, Christopher Wylie, H&M, Edward Enninful OBE, British Vogue Elizabeth Paton, NY Times, Emma Grede, Good American, Gwyneth Paltrow, goop Henrietta Rix & Orlagh McCloskey, Rixo, Ian Pattison, Google, Jo Ellison, Financial Times, Jo Malone CBE, Jo Malone, Jocelyn Wilkinson, Burberry, John McPheters, Stadium Goods, Michael Beutler, Kering, Nick Molnar, Clearpay, Paul Dillinger, Levi’s, Stuart Ford, The Woolmark Company, Susanne Tide-Frater, FARFETCH and Roland Mouret, Roland Mouret.


The BFC has published two new reports on the fashion industry that were distributed at the BFC Fashion Forum 2019 which are available to download below.

Direct-to-Consumer: A New Model for British Fashion?

How to Scale Designer Fashion Businesses


Key findings from the two days included: 

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 really wants and having dialogue with them is key. 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 consumer has seen a lot of growth recently and has built a number of businesses quickly. However, don’t rule out wholesale – with a good partner it can generate valuable brand awareness.  


In the early days it is important 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 great at storytelling and we should use the platform we have to educate. The younger audience is key – we need to listen to them and give them what they want. There is so much to do but bigger brands can help make changes that smaller brands can benefit from. Act now, don’t wait. 

Positive Fashion 

Positive fashion and sustainability initiatives are an imperative from an ecological and consumer stand point. The case is being made for the circular economy and while there is a way to go there are many initiatives 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
The British Fashion Council would like to thank event partners, Clearpay, Current Global, DHL, The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, The Ned and The Woolmark Company and our masterclass and workshop hosts, ConsenSys, Fashion For Good, Accenture, Powerfront, Quibit, Shopify, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Innovate UK and Verisium.  Thanks goes to the BFC Fashion Trust for curating the closing talk.

The Innovation Space curated by Current Global: CLO Virtual Fashion, CoGo Connecting Good, Heuritech, Hologrm, MERCAUX, MOBIRY, OBSESS, Powerfront Inc, QUBIT, Reflaunt, Shopify, Social Vend, SYTE and Verisium

Fashion Forum 2019 Topics and Speakers

Opening Keynote
Victor Luis, CEO, Tapestry, Inc. in conversation with Jo Ellison, Fashion Editor, Financial Times  

Building the Next Big British Brand 
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Sian Westerman, Senior Adviser, Rothschild & Co and President of Business and Investment Pillar, British Fashion Council 
David Belhassen, Founder & Managing Partner, Neo Investment
Frederic Court, Managing Partner, Felix Capital
Karen McCormick, Chief Investment Officer, Beringea LLP

Working Smart, Not Hard: Driving Efficiency in the Supply Chain
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Lauretta Roberts, Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief, The Industry London
Alex Valdmann, Creative Director, Rapha
Laura Culligan, Director of Innovation, Strategy & Operations, Burberry

Jo Malone CBE, Founder & Creative Director, Jo Loves in conversation with Rachel Arthur, Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Current Global

Blockchain Applications for the Creative Economy - Presented by ConsenSys 
Vanessa Grellet, Executive Director, ConsenSys

The People Puzzle: How New Business Models Are Affecting Culture 
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Moira Benigson, Founder, The MBS Group
Chris Morton, CEO, Lyst
Garbhan O’Bric, Group President, Ridley Scott Creative Group

Driving Loyalty Through One-to-One Personalisation - Presented by Qubit 
Leah Anathan, Chief Marketing Officer, Qubit
Michael Manby, Team Lead, Qubit

Current Global: Investing in Innovation 
Rachel Arthur, Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Current Global

Love the Way you Pay – Starting up a Fashion Payment Platform – Presented by Clearpay
Nick Molnar, Founder & CEO, Afterpay (Clearpay)

How Luxury Leaders like Gucci Deliver High-End Customer Experience Online - Presented by Powerfront
Hadar Paz, CEO, Powerfront

Business Success Stories – Managing Challenges & Driving Growth 
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Rosanna Falconer, Brand Consultant and Co-Founder, FashMash  
Clare Hornby, Founder & Creative Director, ME+EM
Henrietta Rix & Orlagh McCloskey, Co-Founders, RIXO
Misha Nonoo, CEO & Creative Director, Misha Nonoo

The Store of One: How Data and Experience are Transforming Retail 
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Maghan McDowell, Innovation Editor, Vogue Business
Gareth Pope, General Manager, Lululemon EMEA
Ross Bailey, CEO, AppearHere
Susanne Tide-Frater, Chief Consultant Augmented Retail, Farfetch and Browns

Closing Keynote
John McPheters, Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Stadium Goods in conversation with Liz Bacelar, Co-Founder & CEO, Current Global 

Day Two

Sustainable Fashion Roundtable by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Innovate UK
Lynda Petherick, Head of Retail, Accenture UKI
Alison Robinson, Director of Corporate Affairs, NERC
Tom Fiddian, Creative Industries Lead, Innovate UK

Emma Grede, Co-Founder & CEO, Good American in conversation with Funmi Fetto, Contributing Editor, British Vogue 
In Conversation

Designing for Circularity 
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Kirsty McGregor, Deputy Editor, Drapers
Christopher Raeburn, Creative Director of RÆBURN and Global Creative Director of Timberland
Francois Souchet, Lead, Make Fashion Circular, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Stuart Ford, General Manager, Western Hemisphere, The Woolmark Company

Moncler Case Study: Improving Loyalty and Value with Blockchain – Presented by Verisium
Eldar Khayretdinov, Co-Founder, Verisium 
Vadim Kostomarov, Co-Founder, Verisium

The Future of Circular Fashion: Assessing the Viability of Circular Business Models - Presented by Fashion For Good and Accenture
Brittany Burns, Strategy Lead, Fashion For Good
Daniel Newton, Sustainability Consultant & Author, The Future of Circular Fashion: Assessing the Viability of Circular Business Models
Harry Morrison, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy & Sustainability

Roland Mouret and Arch & Hook Talk Sustainable Solutions in the Fashion Industry 
In Conversation 
Roland Mouret, Creative Director, Roland Mouret
Sjoerd Fauser, CEO & Founder, Arch & Hook

The Role of Technology for Sustainable Business 
Panel Discussion 
Moderator: Liz Bacelar, Co-Founder & CEO, Current Global
Christopher Wylie, Research Director, H&M
Thomas Berry, Director of Sustainability, Farfetch

Moving the Needle: Creating a Fair Supply Chain
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Sarah Kent, Senior Correspondent, The Business of Fashion 
Jocelyn Wilkinson, Responsibility Programme Director, Burberry
Mary Creagh, Member of Parliament for Wakefield & Chair, Environmental Audit Committee 
Michael Beutler, Sustainability Operations Director, Kering

Levi’s on the Promises and Perils of Sustainability
In Conversation 
Moderator: Elizabeth Paton, European Styles Correspondent, The New York Times 
Paul Dillinger, Head of Global Product Innovation, Levi Strauss & Co

Current Global: Where Sustainable Innovation is Needed
Panel Discussion 
Claire Bergkamp, WW Sustainability & Innovation Director, Stella McCartney
Ian Pattison, Head of Cloud, Google
Maria McClay, Senior Industry Head, Luxury Fashion, Google
Rachel Arthur, Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Current Global

How Female Leaders Can Thrive 
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Kenya Hunt, Deputy Editor, ELLE  
Chantal Khouiery, Chief of Culture, Value Retail
Sharmadean Reid, Founder & CEO, BeautyStack and WAH Nails
Sian Westerman, Senior Adviser, Rothschild and Co & President of Business and Investment Pillar, British Fashion Council 

Closing Keynote in collaboration with BFC Fashion Trust 
Gwyneth Paltrow, CEO & Founder, goop in conversation with Edward Enninful OBE, Editor-in-Chief, British Vogue 


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