The Fashion Trail | BoF Breakfast Club

BoF Breakfast Club at Norwood Club | Photo: Drew Innis

NEW YORK, United States When I first met Rachel Shechtman at a Harvard Business School luxury goods conference back in 2007, we quickly learned that we had much in common. Since then, we have made a point of meeting for breakfast to catch-up and discuss the state of the industry whenever work brings me to New York City.

It got us to thinking. With the non-stop madness of the fashion business, many of us don’t make the time or have the energy to sit back, think about and discuss the changes which are happening all around us. More than ever, we need to have honest discussions about the brave new world of fashion.  There is much we can learn from each other. Why not open our breakfast catch-up sessions to like-minded peers and colleagues from the industry? And thus, the BoF Breakfast Club was born.

Last Thursday in New York, designers and CEOs of established and emerging fashion businesses — Shirley Cook of Proenza Schouler, Maria Borromeo and Thakoon Panichgul of Thakoon, Charles Nolan, Bonnie Takhar of Halston, Waris Ahulwalia, Brian Murphy of Loeffler Randall, Courtney and Phillip Crangi, Elana Posner of Peter Som, Michael Angel, Susan Posen of Zac Posen and others — gathered for an intimate, off-the-record conversation on the future of fashion at the Norwood Club.

The wide-ranging discussion delved into the broken fashion cycle and new business models like subscription retailing and pre-sale trunk show sites, before moving onto the growing need for digital competencies in the world of instant fashion communication. We are grateful for all of those who took the time to join us and contribute to our salon style conversation — by all accounts, it was well worth the time invested which bodes well for more BoF Breakfast Clubs of the future.

Thank you to Rachel Shechtman of Cube Ventures for hosting the event and to Drew Innis for his photography which accurately captured the relaxed mood and open spirit of the first BoF Breakfast Club

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9 comments

  1. Great initiative!

    Would love to be there an listen to professional’s opinions….Any concrete conclusion? please share…

    Regards!

    Paula from Las Rozas De Madrid, Autonomous Region of Madrid, Spain
  2. Nice PR…. however, the likelihood of these CEO’s voicing their true opinions and focused endeavours in the same room as their fiercest competitors is zilch. It’s like getting all the worlds top energy companies into the same room and discussing in unison what their research findings are…’so Mr. Exxon, how is that algae coming along?… brilliantly, how is that hydrogen cell coming along Mr. BP? I hear that oil slick was a real douche off the Mexican gulf’ .. Paula, the concrete conclusion was that Europeans spank Americans when it comes to originality, or at least it should have been.

    moi from Yeovil, Somerset, United Kingdom
  3. Thanks for your comments Jamie and Paula.

    @Paula We kept the Breakfast Club conversation strictly off-the-record in order to encourage our attendees to participate in the discussion honestly and authentically.

    @moi While we might not have been sharing state secrets, there was still more than enough to discuss to realise that many of these businesses are facing the same challenges. There were plenty of revelations and questions raised that we all learned from. I guess perhaps the fashion designers and CEOs we invited don’t feel that fashion is a zero sum game…and that they don’t need to be as ruthlessly competitive with each other as the companies in your oil industry example. When times are tough, there is even more reason to learn from each other.

    Imran Amed, Editor from London, London, United Kingdom (post author)
  4. Imran… you used my name? tut tut :) Without getting into a controversial debate over the balance between capitalism and socialism, I fundamentally believe that transparent, ‘perfect’ capitalism can work… but while exchanging experiences over brunch can result in a pleasant social event, it sounds more worryingly like the emergence of a cartel ;) Especially when you say that conversation is ‘strictly-off-the-record’… just make sure you sweep the room for bugs in future :P

    moi from Yeovil, Somerset, United Kingdom
  5. I attended this breakfast club and as Imran stated we were off the record and we all shared openly and did realize how many of the same concerns, challenges as well as innovative strategies we share. The concept that as peers we are fierce competitors and that we should not share information that can help all of us are as outdated as the oil industry examples mentioned above. It’s a new world people! Wake up!

    Simon Alcantara

  6. What was interesting about the breakfast was its informality and the diversity of the attendees – ranging from large businesses to independent designers. The benefit was realizing that, regardless of size, we all were a little stumped, inspired, and hopeful that we could continue with our respective businesses, albeit with a new direction as we each adapt to the market climate in our own ways. People were candid for the most part, and there was no revolutionary plot exposed that one could poach from another. To me, this was about a community and a dialogue – something truly lacking in these times of change. I applaud Imran and Rachel, and everyone who participated.

  7. Nice comment Matt, good perspective on what was going down… Simon, I’m not entirely sure what is outdated about sourcing new and sustainable energy supplies for the future to keep you alive, but each to their own.

    moi from Bures, Suffolk, United Kingdom
  8. Congratulations Imran, this is a superb idea. A non-institutional, non-industrially coordinated, unbranded, informal gathering of key evolvers is something that could be highly contagious. Breakfast Clubs in Paris, Hong Kong, Berlin or Copenhagen could provide a voice of solidarity in terrains that are otherwise dispersed. Old school symposiums in the age of Facebook. Socrates and Gertrude Stein would be proud.

  9. great physical networking/discussion idea and initiative in times of social tweets.
    any thoughts about involving young global designers/students/bof readers in future?
    would love to hear your opinions and share ours!
    thanks, ritu

    ritu jadwani from United States