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American Vogue Gets Into the Conference Game

Speakers at the day-long event, which will take place on October 12 in New York, will include designers John Galliano, Marc Jacobs and Virgil Abloh.
John Galliano and Anna Wintour at the British Fashion Awards | Source: British Fashion Council
By
  • Chantal Fernandez

NEW YORK, United States — American Vogue announced on Wednesday that it will host its first conference, "Forces of Fashion," at Milk Studios in New York City on October 12. The schedule features conversations between some of the biggest designer names in fashion and Vogue's star editors. Sessions include Dries Van Noten discussing "the power of independence" with editor-at-large Hamish Bowles, Marc Jacobs and Instagram founder Kevin Systrom breaking down "fashion in the age of Instagram" with digital creative director Sally Singer, and Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston "on keeping cool" in conversation with Vogue.com fashion news director Chioma Nnadi.

Maison Margiela creative director John Galliano will also be in attendance, speaking on stage with contributing editor Andre Leon Talley about "success the second time around."

"When it came to our 125th anniversary, designers had to be part of the celebration; who they are, and what they do, is so much part of Vogue," Anna Wintour, Vogue editor-in-chief and Condé Nast artistic director, told BoF in a statement. "Forces of Fashion will bring together some of our favourite names, and allow them the opportunity to speak in a way they've never done before; live and direct with Vogue's editors on a day that we believe will be as informative as it is intimate."

The list of additional designers slated to speak in just one day is long, but distinguished, and includes Vetements and Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia, Erdem Moralioglu, Marni's Francesco Risso, Joseph Altuzarra, Michael Kors, Chloé's Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham. The sessions will range from 30 to 45 minutes in order to fit all 10 panels into 11 hours, along with breakfast, lunch and cocktails.

To be sure, the price of admission — $3,000 a ticket — reflects the level of insider access on offer. And while the magazine declined to share how many tickets will be made available, the venue is set to be "intimate." Vogue will also release a limited quantity of heavily discounted tickets to students.

While American Vogue is seen as the leader among the title's international editions, it is not the first to host a conference. In 2012, British Vogue's then-editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman launched the consumer-facing Vogue Fashion Festival in London. The last edition, held over two days in May 2016, attracted almost 7,000 guests and included educational programming in addition to high-profile speakers such as Kim Kardashian West and Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.

Meanwhile Vogue Paris staged its first conference last Autumn, a two-day event targeting industry members as well as consumers. In 2015, Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes hosted the first Condé Nast International Luxury Conference, which has taken place annually in Florence, Seoul and most recently in Muscat in April and featured high-profile speakers from the fashion industry including Karl Lagerfeld and Alber Elbaz. And just last week in Sydney, Vogue Australia hosted its second annual Vogue Codes. The summit, geared towards women in tech, featured the founders of custom shoe start-up Shoes of Prey as well as Paperless Post.

It's no coincidence that Vogue editions across the globe are launching conferences in rapid succession. Experiences are a new focus for parent company Condé Nast as it seeks new revenue streams in the face of consistently declining print advertising revenue. In January, Josh Stinchcomb, previously managing director at Condé Nast's branded content studio 23 Stories, was named chief experience officer. Given the star power behind American Vogue's new initiative — sponsored by American Airlines and HP — it may become a model worth replicating across other international markets looking to monetise Vogue's ability to access top talent.

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