Welcome to a new series where we bring the BoF community even closer together by getting to know some of our key members.
BoF: What is your current job?
Fanny Moizant: I am the co-founder of Vestiaire Collective and my current job is actually two different jobs. The first one is co-leading the business with our new CEO [Maximilian Bittner, who joined last November]. I am the one taking care of all the branding aspects of the business, so I'm involved in all the branding and PR decisions [as well as] all the employee decisions and community-related things. [Bittner’s role] is more on the business and functions side. My second role is leading Vestiaire's expansion in APAC. I'm currently based in Hong Kong, I moved here a year and a half ago to expand the business in the region. I have a team here of around 20 people.
BoF: What do you wish more people understood about your job?
FM: I'm sure they understand how difficult it is to be an entrepreneur and lead through different phases of your own company. At 10 years old, we're now getting ready for the next year to come. [My] job is constantly being on the verge of innovation and disruption. A big part of the entrepreneurial spirit is about disrupting yourself all the time and growing new skills [and] competences. That's basically the life of running your own business — there are a lot of highs and lows — but that's what drives me, the permanent challenge of not settling things down, constantly moving and constantly disrupting things.
BoF: What is the number one lesson you've learned during your career?
FM: I have two: the first one is, when you launch your business, it's all about people, because you can have the best idea but you will need to execute it with other team members. It's so important, your recruitment [process] and how you accelerate the team around you. That's where you find the success [and] when investors are investing in companies, one of the most important [considerations] is the team. It's a really big thing to be able to find those talents and keep them right through to success.
Second, there's no better way to develop a global business than to be physically experiencing it. Vestiaire is a French company, started in Paris in 2009, but very quickly grew in Europe, so I personally moved from Paris to London to expand the business in the UK. The best way to get under the skin of the market is to live there. I don't believe in extensions without understanding the customer. You need to be on the ground, meeting your clients and your audience, and understanding the different challenges — and the competition too, of course.
When I moved to London, I didn't know anything about the market, but I've invested a lot of time and energy in getting under the skin of it and I'm doing the same now with Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.
BoF: What is the number one challenge you're facing in your area of expertise?
FM: I think the number one challenge is keeping two things alive at the same time. [It's about] handling growth while also disrupting yourself constantly. We've been building a business from scratch and it was basically the first model of resale. Now, we still keep moving; [we're] evolving it and trying to innovate at a different level, while growing the business at the same site. I think that's the main challenge, you've really got to keep the two paces at the same time.
BoF: Thinking more broadly about the fashion industry, what would you say are the shifts that are happening in the industry that you were optimistic about?
FM: The major shifts are in the fact that, maybe, for the first time, the market is more likely to be defined by the consumer itself rather than by brand or any kind of marketers. In 2020, millennial and Gen-Z generations are going to represent almost 50 percent of global luxury consumers and they will be less than 30 years old. I think they are really [in] power; they are empowered through technology and social media and they really have a voice today.
This consumer is redefining luxury; it's become [about] more than just buying an expensive bag or a rare item. It's not the statutory things anymore, it's more about being clever and finding a new and up-and-coming brand or an item that appeals to you, [whether it's] a limited-edition piece or a collaboration with an artist that you like. It's about [getting] products that are accessible, but rare to find in a way. It's this knowledge [that creates] community and [a] sense of belonging, because if you can find that rare Off-White, it means something.
The second [shift] is in the values they share [and] I think the first thing they want is transparency. They want to buy into the brands they love, that they believe in, and in that respect, sustainability is a big element. This generation is disrupting our industry through knowledge and values.
BoF: Which topics do you think the fashion industry should be debating with more vigour?
FM: It's not just one topic, but I think it's definitely sustainability. We've been in those crazy years where the industry has completely increased; there were two collections a year and then four and now it's almost 52 drops a year. The pace is increasing drastically. The consumer wants newness [and] I think the industry is in the process of trying to find ways to deal with that. It's needs to come from the consumer, to make choices [like] the less the better, to invest in quality and to make sure everybody gives a longer life to the products they buy.
BoF: How do you hope that the industry will evolve in 2019?
FM: The game is changing. The consumer is attracted to and are seeking more niche and different things. They are attracted more by youth than by stature. New, up-and-coming brands are challenging the biggest [more established labels], so it forces them to reconstruct themselves and become more agile. The winners of tomorrow, for me, are the brands that manage to adapt themselves in these kind of changing surroundings, because consumers are changing and the [generations] after might also change. It’s about being constantly capable to adapt and adjust to these new types of consumers.
BoF: What are you doing differently in your role this year?
FM: Trying to really find who we are and what we stand for.Having a critical eye, stepping back and looking ahead. I think that [there are] moments where we want to change and adapt, while, of course, keeping the same DNA and the same business model. Being an entrepreneur, I'm growing the business from scratch and running at the same time as I'm walking. My own luxury is to step back for a while, to really take a bit of distance, to have more clarity on my next strategy and think about the new construction and the future. I'm thinking about the future, rather than seeing the day-to-day.
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