LONDON, United Kingdom — The Business of Fashion is pleased to reveal more speakers for VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers in partnership with JHSF, which will take place from November 20 to November 23, 2019 at Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire.
In addition to speakers announced earlier this year — including Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries Hans Ulrich Obrist; Jefferson Hack, co-founder and chief executive of Dazed Media; Alyx designer Matthew Williams and world-renowned yogi Sadhguru — this year’s event will feature supermodel and designer Liya Kebede, human rights activist and North Korean defector Yeonmi Park, chief executive of global fashion marketplace Depop Maria Raga and YouTube talent and beauty influencer Patrick Starrr as well as Vestiaire Chief Executive Max Bittner.
The line-up also includes Masoud Golsorkhi, the founder and editorial director of Tank magazine; chief executive of Burning Man Marian Goodell; community organiser and voice behind JooJoo Azad Hoda Katebi; Lina Khalifeh, founder the first women-only self-defence studio in Jordan and the Middle East; investor, director and CEO advisor to education companies Karan Khemka. The Vaqar sisters behind their namesake Iran-based fashion label will also take the stage, as well as The RealReal's Julie Wainwright, Bolt Threads Chief Executive Dan Widmaier, executive director of the Made in Africa Initiative Matt Liu, poet, photographer and filmmaker Gerard Malanga and chief executive of Webb Search William Webb.
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, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers, in partnership with JHSF, visit our VOICES website and click here to request an invitation to attend. 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.
Max Bittner is a tech entrepreneur and chief executive of resale platform Vestiaire Collective. Encouraging consumers to join the circular economy as the sustainable alternative to fast fashion, the platform counts with community features and an authentication and quality control process. Before joining Vestiaire Collective, Bittner founded Lazada, the leading online shopping destination in Southeast Asia, in 2012. As chief executive, he was the driving force behind the company, which quickly consolidated its position as the market leader in the region. Following its rapid growth, Alibaba group purchased a controlling stake in 2016. Bittner stepped down from his CEO position in March 2018 and moved into an advisory role.
Liang Chao is the founder of Yoho!, a Chinese media, e-commerce and event platform that has captured Chinese youth culture for over ten years. Yoho! started as a fashion and lifestyle magazine in 2005, rapidly expanding into five separate branches, including Yoho! Buy, an e-commerce site, magazines Yoho! Boy and Yoho! Girl, photo-sharing app Yoho! Show and Yo’hood, an annual trade show. With a diverse portfolio, Yoho! maintains a distinct aesthetic and fresh perspective on fashion and lifestyle across all of its channels, winning over the hearts of Chinese millennials. The Yo’hood trade event attracts over 150 brands from around the world, including Nike, Adidas, Rip N Dip and KTZ, each year.
Masoud Golsorkhi is the founder and editorial director of Tank magazine, which he started in 1998. Born in Iran, Golsorkhi came to the UK as a teenager, in theory to study but in reality searching for the punk scene, which unfortunately was over by the time he arrived. Undeterred, he caught the successive youth culture waves that followed, supporting himself in his studies and clubbing by running market stores. Studying media at Middlesex and photography at Westminster University, he set out as a photographer and later music and advertising director, until starting Tank magazine in 1998. Golsorkhi has been an honorary professor at Central St Martins and spoken at numerous conferences and festivals, including the photography festival at Arles.
As Burning Man Project’s first chief executive, Marian Goodell leads the non-profit’s efforts to extend the Burning Man ethos globally. In its pursuit of a more creative and connected world, Burning Man Project provides inspiration, connection, education, and grants to a global ecosystem of community leaders, makers, artists, and social entrepreneurs. Goodell oversees the organisation’s 110 year-round employees and $45 million annual operating budget, and provides strategic direction and leadership to a network of nearly 300 ambassadors in 44 US States and 36 countries. A founding board member of the Black Rock Arts Foundation and Black Rock Solar, Marian first attended Burning Man in 1995 and has held leadership roles since the organisation was created in 1997.
Hoda Katebi is the voice behind JooJoo Azad, the political fashion platform; author of the book "Tehran Streetstyle," the first ever photography book documenting and celebrating illegal fashion in Iran; host of #BecauseWeveRead, an international book club with over 30 global chapters; and founder of Blue Tin Production, an all-women immigrant- and refugee-run clothing manufacturing co-operative in Chicago. Katebi is an abolitionist and community organiser, previously part of campaigns to end surveillance programmes, police militarisation and the prison industrial complex. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2016, where her research explored the intersections of fashion, gender, modelling and the state in Iran.
Liya Kebede is a supermodel, actress, designer and maternal health advocate. She is the founder of Lemlem and Lemlem Foundation, actively serving as the brand’s creative director. In 2007, Kebede founded Lemlem, an artisan-driven collection made entirely in Africa. Lemlem, which means to bloom and flourish in the Ethiopian language Amharic, is a modern resort line available at select retailers worldwide. The brand partners with artisan studios in Ethiopia and other African countries that use traditional techniques in hand weaving, crochet and embroidery. As a model, Kebede has been featured on multiple American and international Vogue covers, runway shows and major print campaigns for top designers worldwide.
Lina Khalifeh is the founder of SheFighter, the first women-only self-defence studio in Jordan and the Middle East. The company is designed to empower women physically and mentally through self-defence training, and has trained over 18,000 women. After starting to offer training in the basement of her parent’s house using her experience in taekwondo, kickboxing and Kung-Fu, Khalifeh opened the studio in 2012. Khalifeh was honoured by former US President Barack Obama at the White House’s Emerging Global Entrepreneurship event in 2015 and awarded the Economic Empowerment Leadership award by Hillary Clinton and Vital Voices in Washington D.C. in 2018. She was also a speaker at the World Economic Forum 2019 in Davos.
Karan Khemka is an investor, director and CEO advisor to education companies on 5 continents. His current boards include Green School — the world’s leading K-12 school on sustainability education. Prior to his most recent roles, Khemka founded the International Education Practice at The Parthenon Group (now EY-Parthenon) which grew to become the largest strategic advisor to the education sector by the time of his resignation in 2017. Khemka is a regular speaker at the world’s largest conferences and has been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the Financial Times.
Matt Liu is the executive director of the Made in Africa Initiative, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) supported NGO that aims to help African countries to capture the window of opportunity for industrialisation arising from the relocation of light manufacturing from China. Liu He has been closely working with and facilitating several Chinese organisations on their investment projects in the manufacturing, textile & garment, fishery, agro-processing and agriculture sectors across African countries, and has successfully created over 10,000 jobs. Liu is also the co-founder of C&H Garment in Rwanda, which has become the largest garment exporter of its kind only after two years of operation. Prior joining MIAI, he was the managing director of a private Australian hospitality business.
Poet, photographer and filmmaker Gerard Malanga was born in the Bronx in 1943, New York, the only child of Italian immigrant parents. From 1963 to 1970 he worked as Andy Warhol's silkscreen assistant, becoming a major influence on many of the paintings and films created in Warhol’s Factory. Malanga and Warhol collaborated on the nearly 500 individual 3-minute Screen Tests which resulted in a selection for a book of the same name, published by Kulchur Press in 1967. In 1966 he was the choreographer for The Velvet Underground and in 1969 he and Warhol founded Interview magazine. Malanga is the author of a dozen books of poetry, including "No Respect" and "New & Selected Poems 1964-2000."
Human rights activist and North Korean defector Yeonmi Park is fast becoming a leading voice of oppressed people around the world. Born in Hyesan, North Korea, Park grew up in a society devoted to the worship of Kim Jong-Il. In 2007, Park and her mother crossed a frozen river into China, hiding from Chinese authorities who would return them to North Korea. Two years later, they reached the Mongolian border and sought refuge to South Korea. At the 2014 Oslo Freedom Forum and the One Young World Summit in Dublin, she became an international phenomenon, delivering passionate speeches about the brutality of the North Korean regime. Park has authored a memoir about her escape titled "In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom."
Maria Raga is the chief executive of Depop, a global fashion marketplace with over 15 million users, 90 percent of whom are under the age of 26. Prior to taking up the role in 2016, Raga served as Depop’s vice president of operations. Raga has overseen Depop’s ongoing global expansion and the company’s fundraising efforts, including a Series C round of $62 million led by General Atlantic that closed in June 2019. Prior to Depop, Raga launched Groupon’s travel vertical in the UK, headed business development at Privalia, a private online sales business in Spain, Italy, and Brazil, and served as a senior consultant for Bain & Company. She holds an MBA from INSEAD and has also been a research assistant at Harvard Business School, covering entrepreneurship.
Patrick Starrr is a YouTube talent, beauty guru and self-taught makeup artist best known on YouTube for his celebrity collaborations and epic transformations. Celebrity collaborations include Kim Kardashian West, Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, Tyra Banks, Kris Jenner, Naomi Campbell and more. He spent the last two years as Key Artist Collaborator with MAC Cosmetics, which resulted in the largest ever male-fronted collaboration for the brand and tied with Rihanna for MAC's largest collaboration ever. In addition, he has travelled the world with top makeup brands such as Tarte, MAC, Benefit Cosmetics, Urban Decay, etc. to help promote new products and lines. Most recently, Patrick founded a beauty influencer incubator/agency called The Beauty Coop, where he aims to help emerging social media talent navigate their careers.
Dana Thomas is the author of the new double-biography "Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano" and the New York Times best-seller, "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster," both published by The Penguin Press. She is a contributing editor for T: The New York Times Style Magazine as well as a regular contributor to Architectural Digest. She began her career writing for the Style section of The Washington Post in Washington, D.C. and from 1995 to 2011, she served as a cultural and fashion correspondent for Newsweek in Paris. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, WSJ, the Financial Times, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Elle Decor and was the European editor of Condé Nast Portfolio.
Self-taught fashion designers Shiva and Shirin Vaqar founded Vaqar in 2013 after graduating in their home country of Iran. The brand quickly rose to the spotlight after being successfully shortlisted for the LVMH prize in 2016. The duo hopes to blur the lines between their culture's conformity and western society's progressiveness by reinterpreting traditional Iranian attire. Growing up in political and social isolation, their brand hopes to inspire a feeling of connection to the outside world, encourage self-expression and nurture a voice for change.
Julie Wainwright is an entrepreneur who founded The RealReal in June 2011, bringing luxury online and into the modern world with a digital marketplace for authenticated luxury consignment. In that time the company has changed the way people buy and sell high-end luxury across all categories. Wainwright has been at the helm of leading tech companies for more than 20 years, notably as CEO of Reel.com and Pets.com. She has received numerous prestigious industry awards and accolades since launching The RealReal, including 2018 Entrepreneur’s Most Daring Entrepreneurs and 2018 Fast Company Most Creative People in Business.
Dan Widmaier is the chief executive of Bolt Threads, a biotechnology company creating the next generation of materials that raise the bar for sustainability in consumer products. From its initial team of three founders, Widmaier has scaled Bolt Threads to a biomaterials platform with over 100 employees, securing over $200 million in investment. Widmaier earned his PhD in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from UC San Francisco. In 2009, he co-founded Bolt Threads to address the growing need for high-quality sustainable materials. Bolt’s materials are inspired by nature to be animal-free and biodegradable. Widmaier has been instrumental in shaping Bolt’s business partnerships with brands such as Stella McCartney. Under his leadership, Bolt has launched an increasing number of commercially available products.
William Webb is an independent consultant at Webb Search. He was one of the founding directors of Neul, a company developing machine-to-machine technologies and networks, which was formed at the start of 2011 and subsequently sold to Huawei, and became chief executive of the Weightless SIG, a body standardizing IoT technology. Prior to this William was a Director at Ofcom. He has worked for a range of communications consultancies and spent three years providing strategic management across Motorola’s entire communications portfolio, based in Chicago. Webb has published 16 books, 100 papers and 19 patents, and has been awarded multiple honorary doctorates by the UK’s leading universities.