LONDON, United Kingdom — Stephanie Phair, chief strategy officer at luxury online marketplace Farfetch, has been appointed as the new Chair of the British Fashion Council, succeeding Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet, who stepped down in December 2017 after five years in the role. The appointment will be formalised at the July 5th board meeting, with an initial three-year commitment.
Phair, who is also a member of the advisory board of venture capital firm Felix Capital and sits on the board of Italian luxury brand Moncler, joined Farfetch in November 2016 from Net-a-Porter’s discount site the Outnet, where she previously held the role of president and was part of the executive team at the Net-a-Porter Group from 2009 to 2015. Before that, Phair worked for online luxury marketplace for pre-owned accessories, Portero, as well as American Vogue and Issey Miyake.
The new role will have Phair overseeing core events like London Fashion Week and The Fashion Awards, while working alongside BFC Menswear Chair Dylan Jones on London Fashion Week Men’s, as well as retaining her responsibilities at Farfetch. The executive said she sees her role as building on London’s status as a global fashion hub. “The opportunity for us is to really look at how we can build on what we have and how we can support businesses to develop,” she told BoF. “It’s about keeping that balance between supporting the grass roots and what British fashion stands for, while thinking globally because that’s how business works and how digital works.”
High on the agenda: reviving London Fashion Week, which in recent seasons struggled to deliver the same media interest generated by Milan and Paris.
“It’s one of the big conversations we’re having,” said Phair. “We’ll also be working with other fashion organisations around the world and thinking about how we can extend the reach of the BFC more broadly. “There’s something exciting about taking on a role that has challenges in a changing industry, and not wanting to shy away from that.”
The appointment may also create a halo effect for Farfetch. The company has raised over $700 million in funding and has partnered with JD.com in China and Chalhoub in the Middle East. Those deals are part of a global expansion ahead of an expected initial public offering later this year that could value the company at greater than $5 billion, according to news reports. In February 2017, Massenet also joined the firm as non-executive co-chairman.
Speaking to BoF, BFC chief executive Caroline Rush said that Phair’s experience prepared her for her new role. “Stephanie has been at the vanguard of change [and] leading the forefront of digital and e-commerce. It was important for us to have a Chair who continues to challenge how best to support the British fashion industry.”
“I have known and worked with Stephanie for almost a decade [and] her skills bridge the worlds of fashion, business, tech and entrepreneurialism. I couldn’t be more proud to pass on the baton into Stephanie’s extremely capable hands," added Massenet.