LONDON, United Kingdom — The Business of Fashion is pleased to reveal the early speaker line-up for this year's edition of VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers, which will take place from November 20 to November 23, 2019 in Oxfordshire.
Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Lagos Fashion Week, and CNN journalist Zain Verjee will lend their insights on Africa, while social activist and lawyer Trisha Shetty will discuss gender rights in India, while world-renowned yogi Sadhguru is set to address sustainability in fashion. VOICES will also feature a discussion between designer Gabriela Hearst and Kelsey Juliana who, with the help of Our Children Trust’s Julia Olson, are suing the US government in a constitutional climate change case.
The line-up also includes the Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jefferson Hack, co-founder and chief executive of Dazed Media, as well as photographer Alexi Lubomirski, Alyx designer Matthew Williams and Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive of Elle China, Xiao Xue, who will all be addressing aspects of a fashion industry in rapid flux.
VOICES is BoF's annual, invitation-only gathering bringing together movers, shakers and trailblazers of the fashion industry and uniting them with the people shaping the wider world. Over three days, executives, entrepreneurs, experts and business leaders will converge in Oxfordshire to immerse themselves in a programme of provocative talks, interactive discussions and stimulating activities, capturing the power of cross-industry learning and collaboration.
To learn more about VOICES, visit the VOICES website. To apply for a space to attend, click here to tell us more about you. We welcome attendees from all industries and all walks of live, and look for people who will contribute to the VOICES community. For the full list of speakers, please see below.
Omoyemi Akerele is the founder and executive director of Lagos Fashion Week and its parent company, Style House Files, and has been instrumental to the prolific rise of the African Fashion Industry. She established the biannual Lagos Fashion Week, a multi-day platform that presents African designers in Nigeria and beyond. The fashion week has expanded the scope its work, providing advocacy for the industry with help from governments and investors, offering industry masterclasses and incubation support for emerging talent.
Akerele works with the United Nations' International Trade Centre on the SheTrades Commonwealth Project, which aims to take 2,000,000 women to markets by 2020. She has had speaker engagements at events including The Museum of Modern Arts New York Items Conference and the International Herald Tribune Luxury Conference.
Garance Doré, creative director, writer and founder of media brand Doré, is an inspiring thought leader and speaker. After 13 years, her globally read site continues to disrupt the media landscape and cultivate a global community around the art of living.
Doré's candidly fashionable approach to life is acute and entertaining, and her uncanny talent for connecting with readers on and offline has garnered her an authentic following. Doré has written for and been profiled in publications including The New York Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, In Style and Elle France. Her first book, "Love Style Life," has been published in 15 languages and is a NY Times Best Seller. Originally from Corsica, Doré now resides in Los Angeles, California.
Jefferson Hack is the co-founder and chief executive of Dazed Media, the independent publishing company responsible for Dazed & Confused, Dazed Digital, Dazed Beauty, AnOther Magazine and Another Man. Hack teamed up with Rankin Waddell in 1992 to launch Dazed & Confused, then a black and white, self-distributed fanzine, positioned as a “cultural alternative” to both mainstream publications and cult style magazines of the moment, i-D and The Face.
Dazed & Confused began as a way of “legitimising what was fringe or niche culture,” but ultimately gave rise to “the trans-disciplinary integration of fashion, music, art and film, a template that has become de rigueur in alternative culture magazines around the world.” It is now one of the most respected fashion youth culture titles in the world.
In 2010, Hack co-founded Nowness, an independent luxury lifestyle video channel in partnership with LVMH. In 2017, Dazed Media and Modern Media formed a joint venture titled Modern Dazed and acquired a majority stake in Nowness.
Gabriela Hearst is a New York-based men’s and womenswear designer who launched her sustainable, eponymous label in 2015, and made headlines with the Nina Bag, which launched in 2016 and boasts an extensive wait list. Hearst wanted to create a strong and modern collection without compromising her ethics and key values, taking into consideration where materials come from and who is making them: luxury with a conscience or, in other words, “honest luxury.”
Hearst is the winner of the 2016 International Woolmark Prize for Womenswear and the 2018 recipient of the Pratt Institute Fashion Visionary Award. She was nominated in 2017 for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent and, in March 2018, received a nomination for the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year. Born in Uruguay, Hearst grew up on her family’s ranch surrounded by horses, cattle and sheep. Gabriela attended the British School in Montevideo and studied Communications at the O.R.T. University of Uruguay.
Kelsey Juliana has engaged in climate activism since the age of 10. When she was 15 she co-filed a lawsuit, with the support of non-profit Our Children's Trust, against the Oregon State Governor, asking for a climate emissions reduction plan and the protection of the atmosphere under the public trust doctrine. By 16, Juliana was a trainer and organiser for the Sierra Student Coalition’s organisation camp. And, at age 18, she participated in the Great March for Climate Action, marching 1,600 miles from Nebraska to Washington, D.C. urging climate action from world leaders. In 2015, at 19, she submitted a Constitutional Climate Change lawsuit alongside 20 other youths against the United States Government.
She has represented the #youthvgov work of Our Children’s Trust at film festivals, classrooms, rallies, conferences, throughout the US and internationally. Her background also includes work with iMatter, 350.org, Greenpeace and Earth Guardians, and she was recently recognised as an addition to the collection of Americans Who Tell The Truth. Juliana is an undergraduate student at the University of Oregon in Eugene and aspires to be a teacher.
Alexi Lubomirski started his career in 2003 shooting for Katie Grand’s Face magazine and, soon after, Glenda Bailey’s Harper’s Bazaar. Having developed a signature style that is elevated and relatable, Lubomirski has become an established name within the fashion industry, with a clientele including publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as brands like Lancôme, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton.
In 2018, Lubomirski had the honour of being chosen by Kensington Palace to capture the official portraiture for the engagement and wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle, now TRH Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The images drew worldwide praise and had over 2 billion impressions on social media. Lubomirski has published two photography books, “Decade and Diverse Beauty” and a book of fatherly advice dedicated to his sons titled “Princely Advice for a Happy Life.” Lubomirski is a committed vegan, as well as a worldwide ambassador for Concern Worldwide, to which all proceeds from his books are donated.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries in London, and senior artistic advisor of The Shed in New York. Prior to this, he was the curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Since his first show “World Soup” (The Kitchen Show) in 1991 he has curated more than 300 shows.
In 2011, Obrist received the CCS Bard Award for Curatorial Excellence, in 2015, he was awarded the International Folkwang Prize and, in 2018, he was presented with the Award for Excellence in the Arts by the Appraisers Association of America. Obrist has lectured internationally at academic and art institutions, and is contributing editor to several magazines and journals. His recent publications include "Mondialité," "Somewhere Totally Else," "Ways of Curating," "The Age of Earthquakes" with Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar, and "Lives of The Artists, Lives of The Architects."
Julia Olson graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, with a J.D. in 1997. For the first part of her 22-year career, Olson represented grassroots conservation groups working to protect the environment, organic agriculture and human health. After becoming a mother and realising the greatest threat to her children and children everywhere was climate change, she focused her work on representing young people and elevating their voices on the issue that will most determine the quality of their lives and the well-being of all future generations.
Olson founded Our Children’s Trust in 2010 to lead this strategic legal campaign on behalf of the world’s youth against governments everywhere. She leads Juliana v. the United States, the constitutional climate change case brought by 21 youths against the US government for violating their Fifth Amendment rights to life, liberty, property and public trust resources. Olsen and OCT are recipients of the Rose-Walters Prize for Global Environmental Activism. She received the Kerry Rydberg Award for Environmental Activism in 2017 and is a member of Rachel's Network Circle of Advisors.
Ranked among the fifty most influential people in India by India Today, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 2017, the highest civilian award, awarded for exceptional and distinguished service. Sadhguru's talks have earned him the reputation of a speaker and opinion-maker of renown.
With his grasp of current issues and world affairs, and his scientific approach to the question of human well-being, he has been a primary speaker at the United Nations World Headquarters, a regular at the World Economic Forum and a special invitee at the Hindustan Leadership Summit, Australian Leadership Retreat, Indian Economic Summit and TED. He has also been invited to speak at leading educational institutions, including Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton and MIT, among others. Three decades ago, he founded Isha Foundation, a non-profit organisation with human well-being at its core, supported by over seven million volunteers, in over 250 centres, worldwide.
Trisha Shetty is a social activist and lawyer from Mumbai, India. She is the founder of SheSays, a non-profit organisation working for gender equality through youth and civic-society engagement. Her organisation works on public safety, security, quality education, good health and well-being, digital literacy, sanitation, public policy and advocacy through a gender-sensitive lens.
Shetty also serves as the president of the Steering Committee of the Paris Peace Forum, is an Obama Foundation Scholar at Columbia University and sits on the Global Leadership Council for The Museum for the United Nations, UN Live.
Zain Verjee is a journalist and founder of communications firm Zain Verjee Group, which has worked with organisations including Bloomberg Media, World Health Organisation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on their communications and public relations delivery and strategies. She is a sought-after interviewer and has spoken on platforms such as TED and Africa House. Verjee also co-founded aKoma Media, a continental network of workspaces for Africa’s creative and cultural economy, in 2015.
She spent 14 years at CNN as an anchor and correspondent, covering numerous breaking news and world events, such as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Arab Spring, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Verjee has travelled with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to more than a dozen countries, including Israel, Turkey, Libya, Russia, China and South Korea. She also hosts the “Newsroom” show from CNN in London.
Raised in California, Chicago-born Creative Director Matthew M Williams has worked with top talents from the worlds of art, music and fashion throughout his decade-long career, shaping a refined aesthetic universe grounded in street culture. His discerning eye and dynamic work ethic has shaped visual projects through print, digital and live experiences with British photographer Nick Knight and SHOWstudio.
A keen interest in the creative process of fashion has led Williams towards extensive research and development into garment construction and greater fashion philosophy to present his brand, Alyx. The comprehensive ready-to-wear and accessories collections harness inspiration from his California youth and global urban subcultures. With his Autumn/Winter 2017 collection, Matthew introduced Alyx Visual to focus on sustainability and reducing waste. All Visual garments are made using an upcycled textile system that is almost entirely waterless and chemical free. The process regenerates cotton fibre from recycled garments and reclaimed plastic bottles to produce cotton yarn for new fabrication. Sustainability is a major focal point in Williams' design process and lifestyle.
Xiao Xue is the editor-in-chief and chief executive of Elle China, and has been recognised for transforming the magazine into a multimedia brand with a video portal, mobile app, strong social media presence and credit card.
Xue has been commended for acclimatising the international publication to placate its Chinese readers, and is credited with the quality and quantity of the magazine’s fashion and advertising content. During her reign, cover stars have included Coco Rocha, Jessica Alba, Miranda Kerr and Chinese supermodel Liu Wen. Elle China has a vast presence amongst China’s online community, and the covers, especially, are a constant source of conversation. The publication also has an Elle TV channel, an iPad version of the magazine and an Elle credit card function. Many have credited Xue with translating Elle into a consumer-savvy multimedia company.
While in her early forties, Xue graduated from the China-Europe International Business School with an Executive Master’s of Business Administration.
Pietro Boselli is a fashion model, pro fitness athlete and social media influencer, with 3.5 million followers. Born in Italy in 1988, he later moved to London in 2007 to pursue his passion for studies, obtaining a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. At the age of 21 Boselli began lecturing Mathematics at UCL. He soon gained global press interest and received the title "World Hottest Maths Teacher."
Boselli’s modelling debut was being discovered by long standing client Giorgio Armani and becoming the face of Armani Junior for 4 consecutive years. He has since modelled for Moschino, Ralph Lauren, Equinox and Abercrombie & Fitch. Boselli has also appeared in magazines including GQ, Vogue, Men’s Health and Harper’s Bazaar.