LONDON, United Kingdom – I’ve always had little creative projects in my life that quickly became obsessions. During my youth, these included my stamp collection, my smurf collection, my record collection — it was usually a structured collection of creative things that I loved to curate and present.
I guess BoF started in a similar way. Through my consulting work, writing and teaching in the fashion sector, I came into contact with a great number of people and places that inspired me, so I started writing things down and collecting these experiences to share with my friends and family.
It just so happened that a perfect storm would soon turn the global fashion industry upside down, laying a fertile ground of fascinating new topics to explore, beyond the superficial gloss of celebrities and faux ‘reality’ shows. Rapid globalisation, the digital revolution and the largest global economic collapse in a generation were a wake-up call for an industry that had stubbornly stuck to traditional business models for far too long.
Importantly, the rise of easy-to-use digital publishing tools enabled me to reach a global audience across a number of platforms. From the very beginning, each time I updated the blog, an email newsletter was automatically dispatched to a growing number of readers. This was the first way people could ‘follow’ BoF. Then, as social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter hit critical mass, BoF was able to reach an even larger audience and spark a conversation in realtime.
Slowly but surely, a global community of fashion nerds now numbering over one million people, came together around BoF. And engaging with all of you soon became the defining purpose of my professional life. Along the way, and often as a result of your generous invitations, I have attended off-piste fashion weeks, student design competitions, technology conferences and business symposiums in more than 30 countries and 6 continents, often traveling for more than 100 days each year. And as I passed through the conference rooms of Google, LVMH, PPR and Richemont; the halls of Harvard, London Business School and Central Saint Martins; and the studios and offices of hundreds of young fashion designers and technology entrepreneurs, somehow I became something of an accidental moderator of an interconnected global conversation on the future of the fashion industry.
But I didn’t do it alone. Along the way, a number of people have encouraged me, offered help and even agreed to write for BoF. It felt like there was something unique that tied us together because of our shared interest in the global fashion business. As each of these original, independent voices were added to the website, one by one, they became crucial to building our point of view. The passion and generosity of these individuals has been remarkable and BoF could not have grown without them.
Sometime last year, I realised that to continue on this exciting trajectory, BoF needed more structure. I needed to find financial partners and build a professional team. We could still be scrappy, of course, and use affordable, lean technologies, but the core team needed to be in one physical place and we needed to focus on BoF full-time.
Earlier this month, our growing team came together at our very first office in London’s Soho. Managing Editor Vikram Kansara has recently relocated to London from New York. And Suleman Anaya, another New York transplant and one of our early contributors, has joined the editorial team full-time. My trusted assistant Emma Clark now sits with the BoF team and one of my oldest friends, Arsalaan Hyder has graciously agreed to join our brood of fashion nerds to provide the operational and strategic discipline we need to help us grow a business.
We have also taken on a seed investment of $2.1 million to support our growth. Our new investors come from across the worlds of fashion, media and technology — and each one can support us in a unique way. We were thrilled when Index Ventures, the world’s leading venture firm in the fashion-tech space, agreed to lead an investment round for a minority interest in BoF. Index has been joined by LVMH, Samos Investments, Cabus Ventures, Advancit Capital and Novel TMT Ventures, as well as a wonderful, supportive group of individuals, friends and family who have all shown a belief in our team and what we are trying to build. This will enable us to build our team, as well as a scaleable technology infrastructure, to continue to grow BoF and turn it into a full-fledged business.
All of our investors have re-affirmed our strong belief that BoF’s complete editorial independence is of crucial importance to the strength of the business and our position as a trusted fashion industry resource. So important are these values that we insisted that they be enshrined in our company documents, which all investors were required to sign.
Many of you will wonder what our specific business plans are. We are aiming to create a next generation B2B media company, designed to inform, stimulate and inspire today’s highly connected, globally-minded, fashion industry professionals.
The very first step in this journey is the launch of a new BoF beta website which goes live today. We have shifted from the blog structure of our first six years to a layout structured around a series of key channels: News & Analysis, Intelligence, Global Currents, Fashion 2.0, People, Education and Opinion. But we will retain our highly-curated approach in order to cut through the noise and deliver content with the high quality you are accustomed to.
Our very popular Daily Digest now has its own dedicated channel and will be updated throughout the day as fashion news breaks from top quality sources around the world. And our Daily Digest email newsletter will continue to bring you the 5 most important fashion news stories to your inbox everyday, as well as one daily must-read of great BoF writing.
Many of you have also been asking for a BoF iPhone app. We think we have delivered something even better and we hope you’ll agree. In a world where mobile platforms and operating systems continue to proliferate, providing native apps for every device isn’t ideal. Instead, we have developed a BoF web app that will respond and adapt automatically to desktop, mobile and tablet screen resolutions, delivering the best possible experience across all devices and platforms. And for iPhone users, you can add a BoF icon to your home screen simply by going to businessoffashion.com in your mobile Internet browser.
Our new site is still in beta, so there will be the inevitable quirks and we plan to iterate and look forward to receiving your feedback. Please let us know what you think!
We are also building our team here in London and around the world. Many of our team were hired from within our community, something that I’d like to continue to do. We are especially interested in talking to editorial interns, developers and commercial and sales people who have a strong interest and experience in the fashion media space. Please send CVs to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, I’d like to thank you for all your ongoing support. We wouldn’t have reached this exciting moment without you! While there is a lot of change in store for BoF in the coming months and years, rest assured that we remain steadfast in our mission to provide an independent and unique point of view on today’s fast-paced, high-stakes fashion world.
We look forward to continuing this journey with you.
Imran Amed, Editor-in-Chief