NEW DELHI, India — The monsoon rains have enveloped the Indian sub-continent and torrential downpours have been commonplace here in New Delhi, this week. But all the rain has not dampened preparations for the bridal and couture fashion shows (as well as a slew of other fashion-related events) taking place in the Indian capital this week.
Yesterday, I participated in proceedings held by the India and Middle East edition of the International Woolmark Prize, where I was honoured to sit on the jury with Indian design impresario Manish Arora, whose first London show, in September 2005, was one of the first fashion shows I attended. Manish was in good form, as always, and shared some interesting background on the important Indian bridal market. More to come on that next week.
In the meantime, it’s time to take a look back at a very good week of classic BoF content, mixing the magic of fashion creativity with some inspiring business stories and a bit of technology in between.
Transparency. It’s a word that more and more fashion brands are thinking about, including Bruno Pieters’ pioneering HonestBy business, which meticulously catalogues and shares every last detail about the creation of its garments: not only who makes the final product and where, but also the origins of fabric, lining, zippers, buttons, thread — even the pin securing the hang tag. As Bruno says: “I think it’s wiser to be a leader who’s ahead of the rest rather than being behind because, you know, it will become mandatory one day. Buying a mystery will be an absurd concept soon. There’s no luxury in a riddle.” Indeed, Bruno is someone who has stepped away from the conventional fashion system and operating model, making bold moves and provocative statements that we can all learn from. We need more forward-thinking people like him in our industry.
Mikael Schiller of Acne Studios told us a business story of another kind, but one that was equally inspirational. “Have you heard the story about the fisherman in the Caribbean?” he asked us as we joined him for a chat in Acne’s newly opened London store and asked for his views on the scores of private equity firms and strategic investors who have approached the achingly cool Swedish fashion retailer in recent years. The parable of the fisherman, which was being republished by BoF readers on Facebook, and frequently referenced on Twitter, is a classic business and personal lesson about knowing what you want in life — and work. I’ll leave to Mikael to tell you the rest of the story, but I highly recommend you click over to read it. It will be well worth the diversion.
And, in the latest instalment of our series Founder Stories, we spoke to Andy Dunn, co-founder and chief executive of Bonobos, whose own professional and personal journey — from the difficult breakup with his co-founder to scaling a business to an estimated $40 million per year and expanding into physical retail — is filled with wonderful lessons for anyone building a new business, whether in the fashion industry or not. A must read.
From Tel Aviv, our friend Liroy Choufan made a striking observation in a powerful Op-Ed which asserted that the rise of high definition, highly accessible digital documentation is driving cut-and-paste fashion trends, manifested in a slew of brands that have quite literally co-opted 90s grunge looks without a hint of contemporary interpretation. Is this a problem in fashion, or the reality of the way the industry works today? You decide.
And then there is the pajama trend. Gauging from your reaction on social media, most of you think this trend is long overdue for an exit. However, many of the buyers we spoke to said the trend shows no sign of abating. Marc Jacobs, as usual, helped to bring the trend into the mainstream, after it had been bubbling slowly on the backburner for the past few years.
Elsewhere in fashion news, London-based Wool and the Gang announced a $2.8 million round of funding, a bidding war erupted for Saks 5th Avenue as the venerable American department came into play for acquisition, and Alexandre de Brettes was appointed as the first CEO of Christopher Kane, following Kering's acquisition of a majority stake in the brand earlier this year.
That’s all from the fashion front. Enjoy your weekend.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Mikael Schiller on Acne’s Unexpected Journey (Intelligence)
The Enduring Appeal of Pajama Dressing (Intelligence)
Power Moves | Alexandre de Brettes Appointed CEO of Christopher Kane (News & Analysis)
Bidding War Erupts as Saks Shares Jump in New York (News & Analysis)