Fashion Fringe – Meet the Panelists

by Katie on June 6, 2010

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To tell you the truth, I was expecting a little bit more insight and real enlightening, sparky tussles from the ‘Meet the Panelists’ debate from Fashion Fringe which was held on Friday, 4th June at St Martin’s Lane Hotel, London.

Inside a sweltering hotel (the air conditioning had broken down, how very London), the great, the good and the merely curious fanned themselves from the heat, if not from the rising waves of creative genius coming from the panel which comprised all round British design genius (and Chairman of Fashion Fringe 2010) John Galliano, his ex house muse and one of the world’s best dressed women, Amanda Harlech and fashion photographer and film maker, Nick Knight. Fashion journalist and historian, Colin McDowell chaired the proceedings and questions from the audience and thank ye to God for that as he brought some much needed thought, clarity and sense of intelligence to the event. Perhaps Colin should have been taking questions too? (Just saying).

While fashion meisters may be the most creative and forward thinking people visuallly, they tend not to relay themselves in the most coherent and astute manner, especially dealing with complicated and toe-in-the-water topics such as Ecommerce and its effect on fashion (Ms Harlech wasn’t able to answer that one), the changing role of fashion photography (from stills to film), the need or not for catwalk shows still to exist to a select audience while there’s a growing mass of bloggers and new media out there, and, the thorny issue of the realignment of advertising funds and spending from mags (with falling circulation) to Ecom.

I watched the event livestream on my PC and though this is a move forward for Fashion Fringe, what I think the debate did for fashion was highlight its inadequacies in the fast emerging world of social networking and new media. Nick Knight appeared to be the only panelist with the merest grasp of its importance.

Discussing the need for catwalk shows versus live film or a behind the scenes, fly on the wall approach, there seemed a fundamental misunderstanding between showing a mass audience the design from conception to finalisation (ie the creative process) and actual hard fast commerce. ie. the possibility of selling and making money. Kerching!

Now, we all know how designers shy away from the vulgarity that is commerce and marketing and like to concentrate on the aesthetic process, but there were huge elephants in the room at this debate with no one brave or with enough foresight to ask, or indeed, to answer. Many people in cyber space are hungry for fashion while it appears, even now, there’s a reluctance to engage with the net and fast forward to the future.

Questions I’d like to have asked include:-

The role of social network in brand building – How does the panel see this changing the way things will be done in the future?

How do they see their catwalk show guest list changing with the growing importance of informed (professional) bloggers, many of whom ask more biting questions and are free to make informed opinions as they are not at the mercy of advertising or publishing houses?

You appear to have concentrated on the visual impact of design and brand at the expense of its impact and sales potential online. Are you taking measures to ensure your brand or business is at the forefront of Ecom and are you aware of how globally, people are now using this?

Why don’t more brands livestream shows when the technology to do this is readily available? Is it due to the possible impact of high street derivatives, globally? Do you believe this would devalue the brand? (NB. Prada, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton and Burberry are some design houses who already livestream their shows).

Last season (for A/W ’10) Burberry’s Christopher Bailey showed a masterpiece of forward thinking and innovation by being the first brand to livestream the collection with 3D technology and then sell selected pieces from this collection immediately after the show for a 72 hour window, only. At the time, Bailey said, “3D technology will bring our global audience into the London show space allowing them to see the colours and fabrics, to hear the music and to be a part of that moment when it all finally comes together.”

By limiting sales to a 72 hour window, Burberry ensured sales opportunities for its wholesale partners while also creating a sense of immediacy for consumers to purchase right away, to be first in the queue. Importantly, with the consumer insights gleaned from which products sold fastest on the Internet directly after the show, Burberry were able to have real consumer data upon which to base orders for normal delivery to its stores around the world. This has got to be the dream scenario and a piece of genius marketing.

Now if only Fashion Fringe had Christopher Bailey as well as Colin McDowell taking questions on the panel. There’s an idea. That would have a real step forward.

Did you see the debate? What did you think? Please leave a comment below or in the shout mix box opposite.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rollergirl June 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I didn’t see it but wish I had. They should have got you up there!


Katie Chutzpah June 7, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Thank you! Can you imagine? I can almost hear “I predict a riot” playing in the background.


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