- John Galliano: "Perfection is limiting. I'm comfortable with chaos"
- Hari Nef, Joan Smalls and Ivan Bart on Fashion's Missed Opportunity
- Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson and broadcaster June Sarpong discussed race, inequality and privilege
- Maajid Nawaz on how terrorism and Trump are the new normal
DAY THREE: Saturday 3rd December
The Future VOICES
Concluding an epic three-day event, the Future VOICES — 10 breakthrough talents invited to present their ideas at VOICES in partnership with Topshop — shared their highlights from the interviews, panels and mentor discussions.
Sekayi Fundafunda, 26, from Zambia referenced June Sarpong, in her opener: "Africa is the new normal."
Hanzi Shen, 21, from China, spoke of her inspiring discussion with her mentor, Vogue China editor-in-chief Angelica Cheung. "Fashion is ripe for technological disruption," she said. "This is a time when fashion and technology can speak the same language."
Grant Lacy, 20, from Los Angeles, concluded the group's talks with the forward-looking statement: "Fashion is on the cusp of change, and we're ready to embrace that change."
Google Tilt Brush
Pedro Pina, global client partner at Google and artist Joanna Henly reveal how digital immersive digital story telling could transform fashion.
Pina believes video will be the new front page when it comes to luxury brand building. He also speaks about how Trump and Brexit demonstrate how we all need to better educate ourselves when it comes to data.
Pina's talk was followed by a demonstration of the new Google Tilt Brush by artist Miss Led, who created a Dior-inspired dress in 3D on screen in just five minutes as a rapt audience watched her in action.
The Future of Music, Technology — and Fashion
will.i.am, music artist and entrepreneur joined his former colleague and friend, Ian Rogers, who switched to the interviewer seat.
On data: "We try to protect our identity so much, but we give so much data away on the Internet."
On AI: "That's the only thing we have left: How do we get time back? Time is still time. AI will help us maximise time."
"I hunt for sponges of knowledge and rinse them out in areas of drought, and those areas are inner cities."
On the future of fashion: "It may be that a tech company is fashion tomorrow."
"It’s inhumane that we are not protecting the youth by investing in their education."
"The next iPhone 7, that iPhone 27, will be smarter than a 27-year-old."
What Can Fashion Learn From Music and Silicon Valley?
Ian Rogers, chief digital officer at LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton, joined Imran Amed on stage.
What is going on is not a digital revolution, Rogers says, it's a cultural revolution. "We never talked about digital when I was at Apple. It was like talking about oxygen, it was there all the time."
"Fashion is a culture business. We sell culture as a prerequisite to selling product."
"Stop using the word digital, it doesn't mean anything," says Rogers, who advises replacing the word digital with internet or innovation for more accurate context.
Girl Rising: How can we Empower the Next Generation of Women Leaders?
Actor and activist Freida Pinto speaks to Mimma Viglezio about "Girl Rising", a global campaign for girls’ education and empowerment.
"There are 130 million girls who are not in school."
"If it makes you uncomfortable, it basically means that something needs to be done about it."
"Using storytelling as a medium, we really wanted to overthrow these stereotypes and not let them infiltrate society again."
"We have to be able to gender synthesise and give value to girls."
Mario Testino: An Iconic Career in 10 Iconic Images
BoF's first Global VOICES Award Winner sits down with Imran Amed, founder and CEO of BoF, to discuss 10 of his most famous images.
"When I got a call from Christies to say they wanted me to photograph Princess Diana to promote the sale of a collection of dresses ... It was not what I wanted to do, I was obsessed with fashion."
"I seem to come to everything at the right time, and it's to do with me letting go and embracing the moment."
"This is the beginning of me doing fashion portraiture."
"I am a photographer by pure chance, I went to economics school, my second school was law ... I see fashion as a business. ... I love the intersection of art and commerce."
Testino, speaking of the Gucci campaign in the era of Tom Ford in which a model is shaved with a Gucci "G", describes his longtime working relationship with Carine Roitfeld: "We like clothes, we like glamour and we like sex."
On how the iconic image came about: "We always wanted to do an extra image at the end of a campaign that is our image. That was our image."
On the Towel Series: "With women, you cover the hair, and all of a sudden they're goddesses."
"I arrive at a shoot and people will say ‘will he do the Towel Series?’ People love the Towel Series. Now everyone comes naked happily."
On Gigi Hadid — what does it take to be one of these extremely influential, commercially-successful models? "It's about the energy that comes from within, the beauty that comes from within."
How to Build Stores of the Future?
Imran Amed moderates a panel of retail space experts including Sandrine Deveaux, managing director, Store of the Future and VP of consumer products at Farfetch, Richard Found, architect and designer, Found Associates, and Stuart Miller, director of investment management at QIC Global Real Estate.
Found: "I think it's going to be a three-year store ... It's going to feel like a pop-up, but with integrity."
Deveaux: "The luxury customer interacts all the time on their mobile device. ... [We need to look at] how stores can really leverage mobile, so the consumer is in control of their shopping experience through their mobile."
Found described how he has seen some stores using technology for technology's sake. Deveaux echoed this, speaking of giving "thought about the customer journey. What is the problem you are trying to solve?"
Miller: "I'm a firm believer that the mall isn't dead, because we want to come together and congregate."
Deveaux: "It's so easy to get the whole experience wrong, even if you have the best tech in your store."
Amber Valletta in Conversation With Tim Blanks
"I think James [Scully, who spoke on the VOICES stage yesterday,] brought great attention and light to truths that have been a part of the industry in my time and obviously still today."
"My drug and alcohol use and abuse was not because of the fashion industry, I would have used had I been in college or had I stayed in Oklahoma. [However,] I had more access, and it was more acceptable, and valued in a weird way."
"Fashion gave me my education, everything from culture, to etiquette, to art, to how to be a professional — fashion taught me those things. ... To experience life in a colourful way. More than acting has ever given me."
Why Health and Wellness is the Fashion Industry's Biggest New Competitor
Next, Wachob moderated a panel of entrepreneurs in the wellness space, including Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon, Dr. Nigma Talib and Neil Grimmer, founder and CEO of Habit Inc.
Talib: "What I'm finding is the new fashion is health and wellness."
Speaking of her patients, many of whom work in the fashion and media industries, Talib says that while their lab tests are normal, they don't feel good.
"If you feel better, you look better, and you look better in your clothing," she says.
"Take care of your employees — create a working wellness model within your organisation."
Grimmer, who has been packaging medical test kits in a luxurious way, explains: "We've used the language of fashion to bring into the wellness world."
"Inspire the world, inspire yourselves."
Bacon: "We need to take care of ourselves and take care of each other."
From Wealth to Wellth
Jason Wachob, Founder & Chief Executive, Mindbodygreen began his career as an equities trader, making up to $200,000 in one month.
"I looked to money as a way to achieve."
After a breakup and ill health including kidney stones and the threat of back surgery, Wachob turned to yoga. "Yoga saved my life, it saved me from back surgery."
"Feeling good is the new looking good. And I think that's something fashion can embrace."
Wachob doesn't recommend eating sugar every day, and endorses Michael Pollan's approach of "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much." His take on the notion: "If you're going to have a donut, have a really good donut ... Breaking bread is a spiritual experience."
What Science Says About the Power of Meditation to Heal, Transform and Awaken
Bob Roth, executive director, David Lynch Foundation, opens the first plenary session with the question: How can we all cope with fashion’s relentless pace since it is unlikely to slow down any time soon?
"The people I love teaching the most are people in the fashion industry."
"The problem of stress is so huge — it's the Bubonic Plague of the 21st century ... Modern medicine has no magic pill."
"I am the least likely meditation teacher that you'll ever imagine, because I'm a sceptic. ... If I'm going to meditate, I want to be sure that it works."
"The reason why meditation is so big right now: science, science, science."
"Meditation requires no belief, no philosophy, no change in lifestyle. ... The reason we do it is not to escape but because it’s what we take with us out into life."
Despite a late evening at last night's gala dinner in honour of Mario Testino, this morning presented another full schedule. It seems wise, then, that some began the day with a meditation session led by Max Vallot.
Meanwhile McKinsey hosted a Knowledge Breakfast in the Electric Barn Cinema to present the findings of The State of Fashion 2017, BoF and McKinsey & Company's in-depth report on the global fashion industry. Check out the executive summary and download the full report here.
DAY TWO: Friday 2nd December
The Gala Dinner
Among the guests at tonight's gala dinner in honour of Mario Testino were John Galliano, Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri and Li Edelkoort, all of whom spoke to a rapt crowd on the VOICES stage earlier today.
The evening presented an opportunity to relax and party after a day of serious topics, mingling with IMG's Ivan Bart, Natalie Massenet, Browns' Holli Rogers and Nadja Swarovski, as well as the Future VOICES, 10 breakthrough young talents who were invited to present their ideas on stage and get to know leaders within the fashion industry and beyond.
In homage to the guest of honour, the decor, the food and the entertainment were all Peruvian-themed — much to guests' delight.
And along with the bright flowers, tassels and balls of yarn, attendees were decked out in their colourful finest too.
The Disruptors: Fashion Business Building in a World of Change
Farfetch CEO and founder José Neves and Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri spoke about how to ensure success in a challenging economic environment, in a conversation hosted by Imran Amed.
Advice from Bizzarri included: "Be more quick and fluid in decision making, the world is moving very fast."
Neves added: "It's all about the people you hire, you need to be surrounded by dreamers, [also hire] diverse people who come from all angles."
Neves: "You need to disrupt yourself to be a disruptor."
Rethinking and Rewiring the Fashion System
Speaking together in a panel on the fashion system, BoF gathered Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, Pascal Morand, executive president of the Fédération Française de la Couture and Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA. The panel was moderated by Imran Amed.
Kolb: "It's not all about Show Now, Buy Now, it's not a one size fits all model."
Rush: "We're open for a conversation about change. a lot of businesses are looking for a bit of direction ... The immediacy of collections, the constant rat run ... Is there an opportunity to pause and just take stock?"
Capasa: "We are facing different situations, our role as fashion week is facing the reality ... We have to be a little more fluid."
Morand: "What drives us is a trilogy, creativity and desire and savoir faire ... The way all this interacts. To preserve the trilogy, we have to take care of this code of instantness."
Taking the Leap in a Time of Change: How Can Fashion Immediacy Really Work?
Avery Baker, chief brand and marketing officer for Tommy Hilfiger on how the company created their fashion immediacy model in just six months.
"Tommy and I had talked about this step for years, how to make fashion more entertaining, more democratic."
"We discovered there was talent and capability in our organisation that we didn't even know existed."
"We had to get 4 million products produced in three different production waves into stores in time."
On "The Gigi Effect": "There is no question that Gigi [Hadid] has been an incredibly important partner for us. ... We intentionally pivoted into this See Now, Buy Now model with Gigi at the heart."
How to Reach the Elusive Chinese Millennial Consumer
Angelica Cheung, editor-in-chief of Vogue China, joins Imran Amed for a conversation about how to target this elusive market.
After generations of one-parent families, the Chinese millennial has a lot of disposable income.
Cheung: "The millennials are the real consumers, the organic consumers, they consume for the sake of consuming."
On the Chinese millennial: "They are not easily influenced by people preaching to them."
Cheung explains that this means a radically different editorial approach for Vogue China and Vogue Me [Vogue China's answer to Teen Vogue] — with the former, "I speak, they listen." For the latter, the reverse is more accurate.
"The goal is the same, but the way to communicate that message needs to adapt ... It's very important that you don't talk down to them and that you treat them as friends."
Diversity and Inclusivity: Fashion's Missed Opportunity
Ivan Bart, president of IMG, along with two of the agency's brightest stars, Joan Smalls and Hari Nef, speak about diversity and inclusivity with Tim Blanks.
Smalls: "Brands have to be more open-minded when they choose their cast, they hold a responsibility to represent consumers ... I'm not going to change who I am because you don't feel comfortable with yourself."
Nef: "Just bringing people in and including them does not lend itself to building an interface for fashion in a sustainable way. It doesn’t take into account the people being included. It’s hard to fit yourself into this mould, these samples, these visual contacts that weren’t built for you. there needs to be a greater awareness of who wears the clothes."
Bart: "I have an opportunity working in this industry to open doors for others. For millennials who might have taken for granted that Hillary was going to win or Brexit might not happen, if you want something you’re going to have to work for it."
Smalls: "It's not only about making a beautiful collection, it's about sending a positive message.
"I've always struggled trying to get a hair campaign. The excuse is always that, 'We were afraid to try something new.' And by new, they mean using a black model."
How Fashion Became About Power and Lost its Ability to Dream
Casting Director James Scully delivered an emotional address to the fashion industry about the cruelty and egos within the fashion industry.
He admits he doesn't recognise the industry from when he first started, when casting models was about marrying the beauty and diversity of women with designers and their collections.
Scully relates a story that begins with a photographer telling him, "I doesn't shoot blacks." The repercussions of this moment would see Scully take a complete hiatus for the fashion industry for two years.
"The development of 'fashion as entertainment' makes many designers insecure."
"We've become desensitised to the way we treat these girls and just discard them and hold their puberty at bay."
"We have black and Asian casting directors being told not to cast black and Asian models to their face."
"We have to support girls more and stop treating them like Tinder swipes."
"It's so much more sadistic and so much more mean than you can believe. I came into this business to dream. That is why we do what we do ... I miss the joy and relationships, I miss the magic."
"It's not hard to be nice."
Scully's powerful message clearly resonated deep with the VOICES audience, and ended with a standing ovation.
Meanwhile, during the coffee break: It may be grey outside the VOICES amphitheatre, but who needs sunshine when you have Freida Pinto and Sabine Heller...
Perhaps the most highly-anticipated events at VOICES, John Galliano is in conversation with BoF editor-at-large, Tim Blanks.
Galliano speaks of meeting Mr. Margiela, who was "d'accord" with his appointment as the new creative lead of the house.
"I'm not there to 'curate' Martin Margiela, but to understand the psychology behind it and to use that as a springboard for going forward. I don’t want to get pushed into a corner of just curating."
Galliano on one of his signature cuts, the bias cut, which he is revisiting in tweed after a hiatus: "Every time I did it, it just looked like old Galliano."
Someone in the audience sneezes. Galliano pauses his train of thought to say: "bless you."
"I'm much more in touch with the real world than I ever was. Especially surrounded by my 'kids' [the young muses and assistants in the Margiela studio] ... It's good, Snapchat, isn't it?"
On being comfortable with chaos: "When thought I had to be perfect, it's actually quite limiting ... Only God can be perfect — imperfection gives me many more possibilities and avenues to travel down. it doesn’t work for me now."
On wearing the white coat uniform of Maison Margiela staff: "We look like mad scientists, or doctors ... Your communication is much purer, in a way. You don't have to wear the coat, but to respect Martin Margiela, we do."
How Can We Nurture the Next Generation of Fashion Designers
A stellar panel of educators including London College of Fashion head of college Frances Corner, Polimoda director of strategy and vision Linda Loppa, Central Saint Martins course director MA Fashion Fabio Piras and Parson’s School of Design board of governors Simon Collins, moderated by Mimma Viglezio.
The companies hiring designers, very few of them are investing in the education of the people they will eventually employ, says Collins. "It's very expensive to become a fashion designer if you're going to go to school. ... Some of the really big companies don't give a penny."
"What's really missing is a real connection with the industry," responds Piras, noting that this also requires investment.
Anti-Fashion: A Manifesto for the Next Decade
Sharing "unadulterated truths about the business of fashion," Imran Amed introduces trend forecaster Li Edelkoort.
"We should educate in teams, we should learn industrial designs — not everybody will be a catwalk designer, not everybody will be a star ... They must learn to just make interesting, everyday clothes."
"How is it possible that a garment is cheaper than a sandwich?"
"There is a debilitating lack of knowledge about textiles in the world. The MFA of Textiles at Parsons will blend Silicon Valley with Hudson Valley ... The ignorance among journalists is terrifying — they talk of prints and refer to jacquard. They don't know that it's woven. It's not for nothing that the house of Chanel is buying up mills."
The Entire World is Watching Fashion, So What do we Want Them to Know?
Eva Kruse, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda, says: "The world is in need of innovators - innovators who can make change. The fashion industry has that ability to create change. It has the power to affect the way we think and behave.
"Not only is it one of the world’s largest, it’s one of the world’s most powerful. So what is the message we’re sending them? Cheaper, cheaper, buy more? Is that what we want to promote? How much stuff do we really need?"
"I believe that if we can change fashion, we can change everything."
Designer Tom Dixon, Immediacy: Embrace or Resist Instant Gratification?
One idea Tom Dixon recalls trying in his talk this morning, is asking how he can be like Google: give away your core service for free, and pay for it by doing something else. The manifestation of this notion saw him make 1,000 chairs, then giving them away in Trafalgar Square. "I got rid of them in six minutes."
Unfortunately, many ended up on eBay, only serving to remind the designer how much he could have made from the product.
A different take on the concept leans into the idea of designer collaborations with mass brands. Dixon reached out to Ikea and the result is a bed design that can be, in his words, "pimped". The product will be available in 2018.
"I learned from the music industry it's possible to create your own identity."
No Ordinary Disruption
Richard Dobbs, senior partner at McKinsey & Company, says his goal is to encourage attendees to reset their intuition - base it on the future, not the past.
"We’re seeing the industrial revolution happening now, but 10 times as fast … Taking a billion people out of poverty, which is a very positive story."
"The millennials are the least trusting group. They don’t trust politicians, media or business leaders. They don’t even trust the advice their doctors give them. They don’t trust anyone. But they’re prepared to leave their keys under their door or have a stranger stay over for the weekend. How can we build trust with this group of consumers?"
Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson and broadcaster June Sarpong join Imran Amed on stage.
McKesson: "These are not new issues, they've always been under the surface. What's new in this moment is the public conversation. The public conversation is new ... The police in America kill three people a day — video has helped people see that the issue is much closer to them."
Sarpong's upcoming book with Professor Anthony Heath of Oxford University talks about the benefits of diversity and looks at the cost of discrimination.
"It's where the magic happens," she says. "It's where you learn, that's how you grow."
McKesson on inequality and privilege: "We need to deconstruct this idea of 'white' as the only normal thing."
A coffee break catch-up...
Populism and Protectionism
Economist Richard Davies joins Maajid Nawaz and Alexander Betts to speak on a panel about populism and protectionism, moderated by BoF chief commercial officer, Nick Blunden.
Maajid Nawaz says: "We are scared of things we don't know. And fear unfortunately breeds more fear."
Making Sense of Brexit
Alexander Betts, Leopold Muller Professor in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Oxford University, asks: What Happens From Here?
"Today, politics is no longer about left or right. It’s about globalisation."
"The most immediate consequences of Brexit have been social. Racist violence has been empowered to levels I’ve never seen in my lifetime. People feel confident abusing verbally on the streets. Across the board we’ve unleashed extremism."
Maajid Nawaz, activist and think tank founder, Quilliam, opens the conference with a harrowing first-hand account of being arrested, detained and tortured as a political prisoner for five years in Egypt.
Fear is his focus today. The fear that breeds far-right anarchists, neo Nazis who will hunt down people in the street because of how they look, and what drives Islamist extremists.
"There is a relationship formed around fear, and they feed each other's narratives. Why does this method succeed? ... It’s a symbiotic relationship. [Both sides] feed each other’s narratives. They feed each other’s fears."
"What we have now is a generational struggle to challenge all forms of extremism. Until then, terrorism and Trump will be the new normal."
BoF founder and CEO Imran Amed welcomed guests with a special mention of our Future VOICES, 10 breakthrough talents from around the world who will present their ideas at VOICES to global fashion industry leaders.
Amed also introduced The State of Fashion 2017, BoF and McKinsey & Company's in-depth report on the global fashion industry — more on this here.
Just outside the VOICES amphitheatre...
It was an early start for VOICES guests at Soho Farmhouse today, with a series of very special workout sessions. Yoga teacher extraordinaire Kathryn Budig taught a 7am class while the Stenmark Twins led a cross-training session and Chris Connors guided a meditation session.
DAY ONE: Thursday 1st December
Tonight's welcome drinks was hosted by Natalie Massenet, Elizabeth Saltzman and Imran Amed, and the VOICES guests and speakers were out in force.
The likes of Farfetch CEO and founder José Neves, Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri and Vogue China editor-in-chief Angelica Cheung enjoyed "Massenet's Vodka Martini", "Saltzman's Blueberry Mojito" and "Amed's Whiskey Sour". The hosts claimed they made the cocktails themselves, but in the well-attended environs of Soho Farmhouse, guests were not convinced.
Joining leaders from the global fashion community were social justice activists DeRay Mckesson and Maajid Nawaz, and wellness gurus Amanda Chantal Bacon, Dr Nigma Talib and Jason Wachob.
Remarking on the broad cross-section of influencers gathered for the three-day event, Amed said in his speech: "We have economists, we have politicians..." Some guests had travelled from as far afield as Australia, India, Brazil, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Saltzman was handing out bandanas in order for guests to "find a common thread", while designer Karen Walker was seen catching up with fellow New Zealander Tim Blanks. In another corner, the Stenmark Twins held court.
Also in attendance was Ulric Jerome, CEO of Matchesfashion.com, president and CEO of the CFDA Steven Kolb, Member of the Board of Governors of Parsons School of Design Simon Collins, executive president of the Fédération Française de la Couture Pascal Morand and president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana Carlo Capasa.
The gathering was followed by a series of intimate dinners around Soho Farmhouse and a bonfire.
VOICES speakers and guests are flying in from all over the world, and arrivals have started at Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire — it's cold but sunny, making for some stunning photo opportunities.
The goodie bags have been a hit too...
VOICES is BoF's new annual gathering for big thinkers, taking place from 1-3 December, in partnership with QIC Global Real Estate. To follow all the discussions, interviews and stories on the VOICES stage, watch our live stream, brought to you by Topshop, or catch up on the rest of our coverage here.