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#BoFLIVE: Phillip Lim and Prabal Gurung on How to Navigate the Pandemic as an Independent Brand

Independent businesses need to reconsider their five- and ten-year plans, the designers told BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed.
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LONDON, United Kingdom — These last few months have hit the entire fashion industry hard, but independent designers are among those particularly hard-pressed. Without a financial safety net to rely on, many have faced existential crises, but there’s also opportunities for fresh creativity and a new approach to business. In the latest episode of #BoFLIVE, BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed speaks with designers Phillip Lim and Prabal Gurung about what the future of the industry might look like for fashion’s independent businesses.

  • With uncertainty a prevailing trend, independent businesses are better off planning realistically for what they can control. Both Gurung and Lim have had to pivot their businesses in recent months to minimise the impact of the pandemic. "We focused on sales, we focused on the wholesalers and the customers… We focused on building business because we are self-financed and an independent company," said Lim. "We can't go to someone who has a backup plan. We had to be our backup plan and swallow that humble pill."
  • For Gurung, lockdown restrictions have helped foster creativity and prompted him to rethink how he runs his business. "Sometimes limitations are good, sometimes boundaries are good, because it really forces you to think about how you do business," said Gurung. "When I come back, I don't know if I'm going to do two shows a year. I want to have something meaningful to say."
  • It's time for the fashion industry to step up and speak out against social and racial injustice, both designers emphasise. "You can't hide behind that dress anymore," said Lim. "You have to accept your position as a role model. Fashion has become so democratic, and you have a platform that can influence people."

To participate in #BoFLive, BoF’s digital events series offering insight, advice and inspiration, visit our calendar where you can find details of upcoming digital events.

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The State of Fashion: Technology