A plethora of fashion blogs has launched in recent months. Imran
Amed, a consultant in the global fashion space, produces a blog called The Business of Fashion,
which caught our attention for its keen insights into fashion-biz
maneuverings. We caught up with Amed in Paris to discuss his favorite
players in the blog explosion, which brands have sound business models,
and which ones to watch.
To what do you attribute the surge of fashion blogs over the last few years?
Think of it as a virtual Speakers’ Corner.
People have always had their own opinions, especially on fashion. Web
and mobile technologies are getting better and people are increasingly
comfortable using them, so now they don’t have to get up on a soapbox
in Hyde Park on a Sunday to let their opinions be heard. You may not
always agree with what they say, but, like at Speakers’ Corner, you can
"heckle" the blogger by posting a comment, telling them exactly what
you think. It is this kind of dialogue that forms the basis of
original, timely content that is distinct from what is available in the
traditional media. So now crowds are starting to form — and you know
what happens when people see a crowd. Blogs have started to hit the
mainstream, and not just in the fashion industry. More and more people
are including a blog or two in their daily Internet roundup, a quick
pass through our virtual Speakers’ Corner to hear what independent
thinkers have to say. This, in turn, inspires more people to blog, and
so the cycle continues.
What are the business goals of The Business of Fashion?
IA: At the start, there were no business goals, per se.
I simply couldn’t find anywhere on the Internet that brought creatives
and business people together to discuss the intersection between the
two. We are beginning to think of ideas about how to take the blog to
the next level, including potential revenue streams from advertising
and sponsored posts.
Who reads your blog?
IA: Our community is a global, multifaceted group
representing all aspects of the fashion industry. They are students and
journalists, stylists and CEOs, designers and entrepreneurs from more
than 140 countries.
Which fashion blogs do you read?
IA: The best blogs tend to provide a unique and often
personal perspective on a topic about which the blogger is passionate.
For me, this shines through on Style Bubble.
Susie Bubble’s passion comes through in her honest writing, in-depth
research, and distinctive aesthetic and presentation. I also read Cathy Horyn‘s blog on the New York Times site, Heard on the Runway by the Wall Street Journal, and the 360Fashion blogs, each of which represents a different spoke of the industry.
In the business of fashion, which brands get your vote for exhibiting a tight business plan?
I am a huge admirer of the work of Patrizio di Marco and Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta.
They have developed a brand that is consistent in every single customer
interaction. Building on his Intrecciato woven bags, Maier has
developed an outstanding vision for RTW — it feels contemporary while
sticking to Bottega Veneta’s heritage of understated luxury. The
company’s revenue has grown at more than 50% per year, and last year’s
operating income grew 300% to €54.6 million. This could be the next €1
billion luxury brand in the making, one that is based on an authentic,
high-quality luxury product with a competitive position.
What do you see as some of the major hurdles small luxury brands face today?
IA: For small brands, it’s a crowded market and very
hard to get noticed in the cacophony of media overload. Production is
also a huge challenge. Collections are beginning to move so quickly
that in order to compete with the big guys, you have to operate at
sprint speed, but for the length of a marathon. All of this is tough
for upstart brands. Luckily, there is more interest in the luxury
sector than ever, and more capital and expertise is flowing into the
industry as diverse players look to capture some of its upside.
Which emerging markets do you forecast will explode in the near term?
IA: China is already exploding, and Russia is a major
market to contend with, but I am most excited about the burgeoning
luxury industry in India. For years, fashion houses the world over have
turned to India for inspiration and high-quality embroidery, beadwork,
and textiles. This is a country with a rich tradition of luxury, where
quality and artisanship have long been respected. Yes, there are those
pesky retail-infrastructure constraints and high import duties to deal
with, but India has a voracious appetite for luxury, and the affluent
middle and upper classes are growing. Most of all, I am interested in
seeing what India contributes to the world of luxury itself, not just
what Western luxury brands bring to India.
Having made the fashion-show rounds this season, break down your to-watch list of creatively strong brands.
In New York, I was impressed with the edgy uptown collection from Peter Som. Thakoon’s collection in a beautiful color palette and modern prints was also a standout. The polished, tailored looks of Jonathan Saunders were evidence of a powerful creative renaissance in London. Christopher Kane veered in another amazing new direction and Giles Deacon
demonstrated the potential of what he could do with the resources of a
couture house. Milan’s 6267 sent out a precocious collection of
uniquely constructed dresses and classic silhouettes that had everybody
talking, including the folks at Prada. And for me, Balenciaga and
Lanvin stole the show in Paris: Ghesquiere,
with his parade of prints, and Elbaz for those unforgettable, long
trapeze dresses. I also liked Ricardo Tisci’s collection for Givenchy,
Swiss-cheese leather notwithstanding.
- This interview was conducted by Jason Campbell.