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Inside the Industry: Imran Amed of the Business of Fashion in conversation with Frances Corner

Inside the Industry with Imran Amed at LCF Inside the Industry with Imran Amed at LCF Inside the Industry with Imran Amed at LCF

Discussing all things creative and commercial, Business of Fashion website founder and editor Imran Amed set LCF’s 2014 Inside the Industry series off with an insightful and savvy start this week.

Since its inception in 2007 as a blog updated from Amed’s sofa, the Business of Fashion (BoF) has become an indispensible daily resource for fashion designers, executives, entrepreneurs and of course switched-on students worldwide.

As a self-proclaimed “fashion outsider” who had spent most of his career in the corporate world of management consultancy, Amed explained he wanted to see beyond the glamour, celebrity and flash bulb realm of fashion:

“That is obviously part of the industry but behind all of that is this magic. I was trying to understand how that magic happened and to show the more serious side of fashion.”

It’s this objective approach that has encouraged critics to not only take BoF seriously as a legitimate source but also the entire fashion industry as a global influencer -

“What BoF has done is provide a new dialogue around what the fashion industry is: how it can be improved, what its merits and demerits are, why it’s interesting and why it’s a contributor to popular culture.”

For an industry often considered trivial and superficial, it was motivating to hear someone with a healthy distance still value the driving force fashion is in society, from the economy to technology. Amed touched upon the excitement over the Apple watch at last month’s fashion shows, for example.

But for all its influence, he spoke as frankly in person about the industry’s failings as BoF. Amed answered students’ questions covering topics from intellectual property (“if creativity is the lifeblood of the industry then as an industry we must strive to protect ideas”) to underpaid internships (“I hope over time there’ll be more balance over how the profits of the fashion industry are shared”) to sweatshop labour (“just think about what it takes for a company to be able to sell a bag for £5, who has been rewarded along the way?”)

Hearing his points from a business as well as cultural perspective was particularly interesting. For budding fashion entrepreneurs, perceptive advice about appealing to consumers and “pro-sumers” (professional consumers taking an active role through social media and brand awareness) in the 21st century was gold dust.

“There’s still aspiration in fashion image but there’s a lot of inspiration in brands that are growing and developing online now. Inspiring people to be interested in your brand, to take part in your brand and to have a conversation about your brand is a much more powerful way of engaging people.”

Amed also took a considered approach to the current, unsustainable speed of design turnover. Reminding us “newness is what drives conversation but predictability, stability, experience, foundation is what drives the business of fashion”. In other words, designers don’t be overwhelmed! Find your own signature Chanel 2.55 bag, Burberry trench or Furstenberg wrap dress!

With BoF’s worldwide outreach, it was interesting to hear Amed’s view of the industry on a global scale. While he believes the four major fashion capitals will remain key, we should “do away with fashion nationalism”. He encouraged us to think of the global fashion centres as “global fashion platforms” rather than rigid representatives of that country’s own fashion tradition.

It’s a good point considering so many buyers and editors were apparently underwhelmed with last season’s collections. “If we looked for creativity beyond our own borders maybe we could make things a bit more exciting and make it justifiable to spend all that money and time travelling round.” Amed’s emerging market to watch out for is Africa and advice to expanding businesses is to always remain respectful of local cultures and traditions.

Of course the ultimate question was: what advice could he give anyone wanting to enter and be successful within fashion? A novice less than a decade ago, Amed has learnt everything he knows along the way and finished with a few simple guidelines. Keep your integrity and professionalism as a business and individual, designers wanting to make a success of their brands should understand the business basics too, find your USP and most of all remain passionate. “You have to care about this industry to be successful in it.”

From someone who’s built an award-winning resource up from mere “passion project”, there are few who’d know better.

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MA Fashion Journalism students launch #NOFILTER magazine

The newly launched #NOFILTER magazine Inside #NOFILTER magazine Inside #NOFILTER magazine

A group of students from the MA Fashion Journalism course have launched #NOFILTER magazine, a publication, designed by Chirag Grover MA Fashion Media Production, that rather than telling women how they should be, empowers women to be happy with who they are now.

LCF News spoke to publisher Caitlin Gillespie who told us about how the publication came about.

#NoFilter came together after a group of us MA Fashion Journalism students got together, it just so happened that 90% of us were female, and over coffee just got to talking about life.  It came around extremely organically, as we knew we wanted to do something on feminism.  At least a few of the girls were hesitant because their understanding of feminism and feminist were not particularly positive, thus #NoFilter came about.

We felt that everything we saw on TV, everything we read in magazines and even the social media we ourselves use is continually coaching us to be someone different, to be someone ‘better’.  We decided then that it was important that we provided something that we felt discussed feminism in the same way we talked about it with our friends, even our male friends, as something that encourages women to be happy with who they are, to have goals and to have aspirations, but to also appreciate themselves the way they already are.  As a new generation of people entering the industry, we felt that we wanted to make our opinion on popular culture, feminism and women known.

At that first meeting we created our manifest statement:

“We are a collaborative of young creatives who believe that the magazine market is inundated with publications that perpetuate an image and understanding of women that we no longer identify with. We embody a new generation of women that view, consume and decipher their world differently.  The prevalence of social media and the never-ending access to information means we exist in a far more global world than ever before.  We are international women looking to be recognised for who we are, not constantly told who we should aim to be.”

Free copies of the first issue of #NOFILTER are available across all LCF campuses and around London.

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Guest post: The essential act of drawing by Rob Phillips

Rob Phillips, Creative Director of the School of Design and Technology

Rob Phillips, Creative Director for the School of Design and Technology, @robphillipswork

Rob Phillips, Creative Director for the School of Design & Technology is obsessed with image making and believes, in his own words, “drawing to be the most important, visceral and inspiring skill any designer or anyone wanting to enter fashion should have, not just for their practice but their mind”.

In recent weeks Rob has been using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to show his speedy sketches of the LFW Spring 2015 international catwalk collections that sit amongst other imagery he creates and finds inspiring. Here the LCF director takes to the LCF News airways to share his thoughts on drawing and fashion.

Everyone in design should draw, and they shouldn’t be afraid. I can draw up to 100 sketches a day and throw them all in the bin because I just don’t feel them. That’s fine. It’s an ongoing practice and I can simply start again.

Images are more powerful than words and the body is the most expressive form, drawing only heightens its power. This is half the reason I became interested in fashion. For designers, understanding the body is so important. With a simple pencil you can connect with the body – feeling the clothes, the creases as your hand moves over the page. It’s an invigorating connection from eyes and mind, to hand, to paper.

I can really understand the frustrations students feel with drawing. Many of them have come from backgrounds that heavily value academic drawing, realistic, almost photographic styles. They are beautiful but as organic creatures we have a series of very complex feelings and thoughts within us. By juxtaposing these realistic and academic skills with more expressive and abstract styles, we can explore our thoughts more deeply and more personally. What’s more, this often results in more originality as well as giving rise to new design ideas.

Personally, I take photos, sketch and do something creative every day. If it’s not fashion based then it’s something else I want to capture that will carry my message.

I love social media as it’s a great way to engage people and communicate with them beyond final outcomes. In fact the use of these platforms is part of my process. The end is not when I have completed a sketch, nor is it when I have photographed it, edited it and uploaded it. No, it ends with the audience – their interaction, comments, likes and shares. This all adds to the work that’s being shown and that’s wonderful. I’m not a brutal editor when it comes to social media, if I do something or see something interesting or exciting, I send it out there. Even if I think a drawing I’ve done is rubbish I still put it out there as the audience interaction is what completes it. Any serious designer today understands the importance of the audience/consumer.

I really get into a head space when I draw. I need music (I reference the tracks in my social posts), plenty of different media, research and imagery and most importantly – more importantly than an idea – a feeling. It’s that sense of feeling that comes out of my pencil, through posture, an attitude, an expression. I work fast and instinctively.

Life drawing is one of my favourites. I use myself when I don’t have a model. Pulling poses and photographing them to help me understand the body, posture, to feel form, bone, flesh and silhouette. When I draw using my mind’s eye I have tendencies to get a person stuck in my head and they will appear on the paper in various guises. That’s why I love drawing, I can bond with the feelings and character in front of me.

Teaching drawing isn’t just fun, its enlightening.  When you see someone break through the barrier of socially and historically constructed values of what types of drawing are acceptable, when they realise the flick of a line the daub of a brush can express more emotion than any other image, it’s deep and it’s beautiful.

Rob

Rob Phillips, Creative Director for the School of Design and Technology, @robphillipswork

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LCF Fashion Matters Gala raises money to launch new careers

Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com Image: Alex Maguire, www.alexmaguirephotography.com

Fashion Matters, LCF’s annual gala event which raises money for scholarships and bursaries has this year smashed its target, raising in excess of £85,000. The event which took place on Friday 10 October aims to support  future generations of designers, makers, entrepreneurs, commentators and industry specialists. The success of the evening will result in at least 50 new scholarships and bursaries.

The glittering Gala dinner, held at The Savoy London and sponsored by Shaftsbury PLC and Hogan Lovells, accommodated over 200 guests including designers, entrepreneurs and key fashion business for a unique evening to celebrate British educated fashion and design talent. VIPs included Grayson Perry CBE RA, Soprano Laura Wright, CEO of the British Fashion Council Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of Whistles Jane Shepherdson, Harold Tillman CBE, model Olivia Inge, designer Maria Grachvogel, interior designer Nicky Haslam, TV illusionist Derren Brown, philanthropist Aisha Caan, Made in Chelsea star Mark Francis and TV presenter Cleo Rocos.

After a champagne reception with an exhibition of beautiful work by current London College of Fashion students, the evening kicked off with a welcome speech by Chair of the Fundraising committee Harold Tillman CBE asking guests to “Dig deep … and even deeper” to help LCF surpass last years total of 29 new scholarships which helped launch “29 new careers.” Following Harold Tillman’s opening address Grayson Perry CBE RA took to the stage – beautifully dressed as his female alter-ego Claire.  Grayson had the audience in stitches as well as reminding everyone about the more serious reason for the evening – to raise money for students who might not otherwise be able to afford university education.  He reflected that as a working class boy he had received his art school education for free – and mused how the changes to the funding of Higher Education in the UK was likely to have an impact on those very same working class students.  Will we still have artists and designers in the future from every social background?

“I don’t see the next Alexander McQueen coming from Eton” he commented.

Guests were able to bid on silent auction items including a beautiful dress donated from the personal archive of Giles Deacon (which sold for £700) and a personal tour with Paul Smith in his Covent Garden studio.

As dessert was being served Ed Giddins compered a lively auction with spectacular prizes including Grayson Perry’s ‘Unfashionable Lion’ which went for a staggering £9,500, an exclusive picture of David Bowie generously donated by celebrity photographer Richard Young which sold for £3000, a pair of Tom Ford catwalk show tickets which sold for £1000 and a bespoke ‘Miss Jones’ Stephen Jones hat and a visit to his studio, which raised £1000.

Rounding off a spectacular evening was an exclusive performance by soprano Laura Wright who recently performed at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games.  Laura performed two tracks from her new album ‘Sound of Strength,’ which is currently at Number 11 in the Classical Music Charts.

Overall the evening was a staggering success and we look forward to giving new talent exciting opportunities in the future.

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LCF student creates photography booklet for Skin Care for All

Kári Sverriss, MA Fashion Photography Kári Sverriss, MA Fashion Photography Kári Sverriss, MA Fashion Photography Kári Sverriss, MA Fashion Photography Kári Sverriss, MA Fashion Photography Kári Sverriss, MA Fashion Photography

MA Fashion Photography student Kári Sverriss has created a collection of images for Skin Care for All , helping to raise awareness of skin problems and respond to a range of skincare concerns and initiatives. Skin Care for All is an organisation that aims to nurture and encourage the self management of community dermatology.

Paul Bevan, Course Director of MA Fashion Photography, told LCF News about the thinking behind Skin Care for All and how fashion photography is interacting with the campaign:

“The mission was to invigorate the skin care for all agenda by engaging the power and proposition of the image, and in particular the fashion image. Fashion photography is mostly underpinned by conventions in visual aesthetic and beauty.  With this, come questions around our identity, and how we look at, judge and treat others by their appearance.  This was a great opportunity to give a creative response to the skin care for all initiative”

LCF News caught up with Kari to find out more about his work and inspirations.

LCF News: Tell us about Skin Care for All and how you got involved…

KS: I was approached by Paul Bevan (Course Director for MA Fashion Photography), Phil Sams (Honorary Doctor at LCF) and Terence Ryan (Honorary President of The International Society of Dermatology) and asked to create a series of images, and a booklet with them that would be used as a part of a presentation at the European dermatological summit. The images were to raise awareness of certain issues and matters regarding skincare and skin diseases.I decided to approach people with skin diseases and skin problems and asked them about their experiences and if they had ever met prejudices in their lives and if so in what way and how did they deal with it.

LCF News: Tell us about the images you have created…

KS: We had 8 days of shooting both in studios and on location in different parts of Iceland, I wanted to use the raw, rough and dry environment, and the unique locations in Iceland as I felt that they were a link or a visual connection to the extreme conditions that some people around the world are living in, and also problems that people with skin diseases and skin problems face.

I wanted all of the images to have an element of fashion to them, as I believe that the power of photography and fashion is undeniable and when those two elements come together there are endless possibilities and it can be used as a universal language to send out messages around the world. I wanted the images to portray the prejudices that people with skin diseases and problems face, the emotions, the good and the bad and I also wanted to show in the photos that we are all the same.

 

LCF News: What inspired you about the project?

KS: What inspired me about the project is that it was very challenging, to mix glamour, fashion and sensitive issues together is a delicate and difficult matter. But it is my passion, to use fashion and photography to raise awareness, to help and to build better lives with the power of fashion and photography is something that I believe strongly in. I think that fashion photography is a universal language understood by most people and as much as we can use it to sell dreams, clothes or ideas, I believe its also crucial to use it to help people and to raise awareness of social issues and human struggles.

LCF News: Your work will shared at the European dermatological summit – what will this mean for the project and what does this mean to you?

KS: For this particular project we went in a direction that has not been done a lot, and SCFA hasn’t done it in this way before (using fashion and photography to raise awareness). It means that hopefully this project will live for a long time, will be spread around the world used for good things and hopefully it will inspire others to do the same. This also means for me that my work will get more exposure, and hopefully help me with future projects and jobs in the near future.

LCF News: Are you happy with the outcome of the project?

KS: I am very happy with the outcome and the look of the images that I created, they came out in the way I wanted them to be, I wanted to go for a look that is more timeless in terms of styling and overall look and could be looked at a few years down the line and still think that they are relevant. I want to use the opportunity to thank the team behind the shoots because without them this wouldn’t have been possible.

The relationship between LCF and The International Society of Dermatology has developed since LCF designed the first booklet and website for the company, commissioning BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism student Nick Smith and a team recruited by him in 2012. Skin Care for All has been made possible by funding from Procter & Gamble who became involved with the project via UAL Visiting Professor and Procter & Gamble senior Research Fellow, Dr Paul Matts.

Phil Sams, Honorary Doctor at LCF said:

I am delighted that Terence Ryan asked us again to help him with his big, important mission to build within medical professions and beyond a strong duty of care for communities where skin issues degrade life-quality. The journey has been great and the end-result inspiring. The project confirms that fashion thinking can and should shine a light in unexpected corners of social issues; this is absolutely about Better Lives!

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