Friday, 20 November 2009

Fashion Summit

Fashionista has been a little quiet this week - but that is because she has been busy mingling with the Fashion elite this week at the Drapers/WGSN Fashion Summit 2009. Rather like a child in a sweetie shop, Fashionista found herself sitting amongst a dazzling array of Prada handbags and Miu Miu shoes listening to Fashion royalty such as Anne Tyrell, Betty Jackson and Lulu Guiness impart their words of wisdom to an awe-struck audience.

One of the most enthralling interviews was Paula Reed's interview with Diane Von Furstenberg and Harold Tillman during which DVF likened trading in the current climate to "surfing a tsunami" although given that DVF has had "a very good year" it seems that DVF might be just as good at surfing as she is at designing. As DVF put it she "had no idea that the stupid little [wrap] dress was going to pay for everything in her life".

From one fashion legend to another, Paula Reed interviewed the iconic Barbara Hulanicki, BIBA founder. Fashionista found it interesting that Barbara's view was that designers don't get enough instruction on the business side and this was an issue that was echoed over and over by many of the speakers.

Amongst the other highlights for Fashionista were:
* the "controversial" statement by Lyle and Scot managing director, Derrick Campbell, who claimed to have taken the decision to burn £1 million worth of overstock rather than see it discounted. A statement that clearly went down well with the subsequent panel of discounters, M and M direct, Cocosa and Vente-Privee!

* Paula Reed's interview with Joseph Velosa, CEO of Matthew Williamson, which touched on the positive aspects of a high street tie-up (a view not shared by all the guests). Joseph maintained that as long as you clearly identify the customer for each line then there is no detriment to the brand as a whole. A very topical discussion given the recent Jimmy Choo/H&M collaboration.

* Lauretta Roberts' interview with Joseph Wan (CEO of Harvey Nichols) and Touker Suleyman (owner of Ghost, Hawes & Curtis and Low Profile). Unfortunately, it seems that most people shared their view that next year will be even more challenging for retailers unless retailers can "adapt" and perhaps if they listen to Nick Robertson (CEO of ASOS) that on-line is the place to get growth at the moment.
So with worn-out heel tips and a severe case of fashion envy, Fashionista left the two day event feeling wiser and extremely interested to see if some of the predictions of those in the know come true over the next year. If they do, it sounds like everyone should hold on tightly to their Balenciaga as we might be in for a bumpy ride!