Similar to all other days of the BRICS+ Fashion Summit, the B2B showroom was open, where 120+ designers from around the world were presented. Then, there was the fashion intensive course part. Tomorrow, the participants of the Summit will have the opportunity to attend the World Fashion Shorts Festival at the Artplay Design Center (Multimedia Hall) and discuss the films demonstrated with experts. The following sessions were held on Wednesday, November 29. Grand Hall (Photo: https://disk.yandex.ru/d/LzMT_HKhGZxcIg) 1. The orbital race. High-profile discoveries, or offline shopping as a statement
During the discussion arranged at BRICS+ Fashion Summit, the speakers talked about the importance of flagship stores in the fashion industry. Today, a flagship store is not only a brand display but also a cornerstone of its philosophy, and its symbol, too. It draws attention to the brand and sets trends for the brand’s retail chain. Consumers don’t just visit such stores for shopping. They come for emotions, for a good mood, so the interior design is what matters. Founders of brands and designers of the most peculiar offline stores, which have made a real fuss in the fashion world, took place in the event. The main question of the session was, ‘How do availability and design of a flagship store contribute to the brand image and what impact can these have on the audience?’
Speaking about their brand, Alisa Boha
– Fashion Designer of MONOCHROME, explained why they needed to go offline: ‘It’s important for us to meet our customers face-to-face. We want them to come to our store and feel our brand’s philosophy. When people come to us, it’s like they come to my place. They feel that they are welcome and well cared of by our employees.’Valerii Sidorov
, Founder of Prostranstvo Bureau:
‘Indeed, before going offline was the only way of telling people that your business is out there. But today, it’s important to establish offline venues, because this way you can build a tremendous and deep emotional connection with your customer. And, of course, it’s the home of the brand, where we welcome our customers and can share our values with them.’Vassa Yakovleva
, Brand Director and Chief Designer of VASSA&Co, answered this question, too. According to her, ‘Today, the energy of a place has a crucial role. This energy can be brought in by top architects. It should be a powerful experience that makes your customers willing to come again. This is what tells them a story about people working for the brand, the brand’s energy and the message it conveys.’Maria Tsakharias,
Architect and Retail-designer from RMMSH architect buro, noted that ‘their global mission is to inspire customers, to make them buy things by means of the interior. For example, when we worked with YULIAWAVE, we designed a flexible transformable space for their flagship store and added various unique features like an 8-meter display and TV panels, we used a background made of branded lining for jewelry and added one piece that became the main attraction – a concrete panel resembling the brand’s jacket.’Angelina Aslanova,
CEO of Angelina Aslanova Arсhitects, spoke about the importance of having all kinds of tricks and features in a flagship store, even if authenticity is at the core of your brand. ‘Our intent is to design eye-catching interior solutions. We exhibit various art objects in flagship stores, because art can interact with all other fields, whereas it cannot exist on its own. When visitors come to such a store, they get to know us and our brand, they learn the story we are willing to tell,’ she said.
When asked how a flagship store can be more than the endpoint for a brand and how to balance between offline and online so that such a store remains a point of attraction, Olga Leffers
, Founder and Designer of Leffers, answered that boutiques should tell the story of the brand: ‘When a person puts on clothes, they want to communicate some message to the world. That is, each of us uses garments to tell the world a story about themselves in a nonverbal way. It’s the same with a boutique. If a brand has a store that doesn’t have a real idea at the heart of it, there will be no way to introduce it ‘by hand.’Alina Farkhutdinova
, Founder of the Bloggers Relations Advertising Agency, mentioned that she pays attention to specific things when working with flagship stores: ‘If we are talking about designer clothes, our goal is to sell not only some things, but also a lifestyle. That is, we want to have certain designer things because we want to be part of a relevant lifestyle. Therefore, when we advertise things, we should pay attention not only to the clothes we sell, but also to the services that we can offer at a certain store.’
Summing up, Anna Zabroda
, Moderator and Presenter at RBC TV, said the following: ‘A flagship store is not only the ‘spokesperson’ of the brand. It is an opportunity to meet customers face-to-face and share your life force. And most importantly, it’s never too late to open a flagship boutique. The time is always right regardless of the crisis.’2. Growth hormone. How to become a fast-growing brand?
One of the main questions of the session was ‘How can fashion brands grow faster and get to a new level?’ Participants discussed various tools that can help fashion entrepreneurs grow and develop faster, be more competitive in the market, and get into the focus of investors. Moreover, the discussion revealed the optimal strategies and opportunities for cooperation between different participants of the fashion industry.Ilya Bulichev
, Founder and Chief Designer of BLCV brand, said: ‘It looks like all of us are currently looking for some kind of a magic pill that will help the brand grow. But the most essential thing is that even if such a pill exists, it will kill the brand and prevent it from surging forward. If one would like to try some growing elixir, this could be the ability to sell correctly. But how does one sell correctly? This is a wide range of different things, from understanding who your target audience is to realizing what kind of content they want to get.’
Talking about her own brand, Radical Chic, Aleksandra Kaloshina
, Founder of Solstudio Textile Group, outlined that ‘the path they’ve been treading is a perfect example of what a creative company can achieve. The important thing was that we worked on our own analytics, because textile designers are ahead of everyone. It was analytics that gave us all the opportunities. From a small studio that sold fabric designs for literally every textile exhibition, we managed to become a brand with a factory of its own.’
‘Today, brands can’t do without storytelling because it’s what creates an emotional connection between the customer and your brand,’ said Shirene Rifai
, Founder and CEO of Jordan Fashion Week & Shirene Consulting. ‘Next, you need to constantly focus on making sure your brand has a unique identity. This is what makes you different from other designers. Make sure the consumer looks at your stuff and is instantly able to tell it apart from all others. It makes your customer trust you and makes them loyal to you. Today, it’s also important to rely on innovation in design, to incorporate technology into your products.’
‘Innovation can be in fabrics, in your equipment, in promotion, but not in design making,’ Gyulnara Agamova
, CEO of Creative Industries Agency, shared her point. ‘It’s also important to realize what kind of brand you are, if you are developing or if you have already been established. That’s because when you are a beginner, your task is not about innovation at all. You need to get to the heart of all the trends, to know what you are going to produce, and what is unique about your collections. When you are an established brand, you can introduce some innovations like AR.’
Talking about advanced technologies in the fashion industry, Alexey Kulakov,
CMO of Lamoda, said: ‘I think the big technology trend in fashion is the way of speeding up the industry. That is, in a few years we are going to come to a point when following the trends, finding a conceptual insight for a collection, launching it for production, and releasing it will be happening really fast. But this speed and technology will never replace the idea itself. Art is about our sense of time, and technology will never be able to replace it.’
To draw a line in this talk about innovative technologies, David Tlale
, Founder and Creative Director of David Tlale, expressed his point of view, too: ‘We have to appreciate technology, but we also need to upgrade our professional skills in order to do what we do. When we talk about the product we make and the growth hormone, we forget about the most important thing, which is learning how to make clothes properly. If you have mastered that, you can do anything you choose.’Alia Khan
, Chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council, spoke about how audience attention can be captured in the biggest operation countries: ‘Stop focusing on ethnic clothing. Local culture is a good thing, but they want something different. They want something up-to-date. Choose a different language to communicate with the audience, offer them good fashion. Just do what you do best. Remember there are some subtleties, but once you find out what they are, then that's it. You’re on an easy street.’
The session ended with a quick poll arranged by the moderator, Tatyana Naumova
, Project Manager at NTV. She invited the speakers to imagine that a brand’s ‘growth hormone’ had its own formula, and each speaker had to name an ingredient they would add. The fashion industry experts offered influence via accessible media, making products for a loyal audience, passion, conscious vision, and continuous learning. 3. Staff in trend. Skills required for a fashion business operator
The speakers discussed new business competencies and compiled a portrait of an up-to-date manager. To rapidly develop a private company or a brand, a fashion business operator needs to be flexible and easily adjust to the continuously changing market and consumer demands. He or she should also possess some skills in management, know the basics of marketing, trade, production, and even design. The most important thing is to emphasize your strengths, but also remember that you have to work on your weaknesses and turn them into advantages. The session was moderated by Alexey Svishchev
, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations IBDA (RANEPA).Paul Antaki
– Chairman at EFDC:
‘Today, a fashion business operator requires a whole set of skills, including a clear understanding of the local market, an ability to manage finances, and leadership skills. This is extremely important for any business. There should always be a person who can manage numbers – a Math person, who shouldn’t necessarily be a creative genius, someone who can take charge of the business, find the right people and bring them together as a team, who can establish the necessary workflows. This way, your brand will move forward.’Anna Dreinberg
, CEO of Tomorrow's render Team, told the audience about the current digital trends in the fashion industry: ‘We live in the economy of focus, and we buy clothes not only when we have a real need to cover ourselves and get warm, you know. Today, we buy things to feel the vibe and to learn the story. Therefore, there are three directions in digital fashion right now. They are technology-based 3D design, photo and video content making, and game-ready clothing.’Vlad Ivanov
, CEO at SL1P:
‘As a fashion businessman, I am low on regular professional workers: sewers, garment process engineers, apparel cutters. We have many marketing and sales specialists, but unfortunately, technical specialties are not that popular. Therefore, the main task for institutions is to make these professions more prestigious and popular.’
When asked about the skills that fashion entrepreneurs need, Gregg Maragelis
– Director of Cape Town College of Fashion Design, remarked that education is of prime importance in this sphere: ‘First of all, every fashion business operator needs top quality education in order to be sure that they have the basic skills. This is necessary so that in the future they can understand which path they’d like to tread. It is your education that can guide you and show you your strengths. Until you have this basis, achieving anything specific will hardly be possible.’Yana Kuznetsova
, Designer for Yana Besfamilnaya brand, spoke about continuous training: ‘Today, it is important for all of us today to continue our education on the go, because everything is changing so quickly, and the marketing they taught us 7 years ago is no longer on the table. Let’s say I haven’t been taught to compile an assortment matrix. Then, I would not be able to get anywhere with my creativity alone. Therefore, it is essential that all of us get consistent education in certified institutions.’Ekaterina Cherkes-zade
, Director of the Center for Creative Economy Development (Agency for Strategic Initiatives to Promote New Projects) offered her opinion about the primary task for a fashion business operator: ‘Today, the main task for a fashion entrepreneur is to integrate local brands into the global market. Because it is the creative economy that works as a wrapper for the entire Russian economy. It is through the products made by the creative sector that our country can be seen as attractive by investors. People from other countries look at our brands, watch our movies and cartoons, play our games, and that is how the image of Russia is formed in their minds.’
At the end of the session, Alexey Svishchev,
Dean of the Faculty of International Relations IBDA (RANEPA), summed things up as follows: ‘The fashion market is changing along with the world, and it is ahead of other sectors. Continuous learning is of essence today. It is important to gain knowledge not only practically, but also in specialized institutions. What I find the most comforting is that the Russian state is eager to help and support this process. Therefore, choose the fashion industry! Go learn, help each other, and let’s make this market the most technologically advanced, the most rapidly developing and the most popular one.’ 4. Investing wisely. What can investors give to a fashion brand?
The participants arrived at a conclusion that financial investment is not the only key factor behind the fashion business success. It is necessary to have a really good project team that is creative, knows how to collaborate with designers and manufacturers, can analyze the market and understands what the target audience wants.
Investors can offer the team some of the competencies that can be useful for the brand's successful development. Besides financial funds, they can share their knowledge and experience, which are valuable assets. Typically, investors have business expertise that can be used to enhance the brand's strategy and competitiveness.
During the discussion, they broached the issue of funding for emerging fashion brands and compared investment generation with one’s use of their own start-up funds. The participants exchanged their opinions as regards to the prospects of different financial support formats and discussed where the best financial support for a brand should be sought for.
At the beginning of the session, Willy Batura
, CEO and Founder of Fort Fashion Council, explained what steps can be taken if you want your brand to get to another market: ‘Any brand needs to adjust in an overseas market and the changes it offers. You really should check how the Middle East is doing it. There are many opportunities there, but you should choose what to focus on. Anyway, adjustment to the market is essential. Let’s say you’re going to enter the Dubai market. You will have to make sure that your work is absolutely legitimate. At the same time, you shouldn’t forget about promotion. The locals have to make sure that your products live up to their expectations.’Victoria Potapova
, PR manager of Planeta.ru:
‘The benefits delivered by crowd-funding are financial support, PR, concept testing, and pre-order. Therefore, you need to go for crowd-funding, because it can help to solve several major problems at once, no matter if your are an emerging, or an established brand. This way, you can reach out to a new audience and get a chance to tell about yourself plus raise some more money.’Tatyana Repina
– PR Director at Moscow Small Business Credit Assistance Fund, presented the guarantee fund concept and basic principles: ‘More than 17 thousand contracts have been registered by our fund as we granted surety for them. We act as a guarantee for small businesses that require loans. Loans are our main product. We can cover up to 70%, but 30% of the secured amount are to be raised by the business operator. In total, during the time of its existence the fund has offered assistance with debt financing that amounts to 330 bln RUB. This year, small businesses have already received 57 bln RUB thanks to the support from our fund.’
When asked how a young designer in Paraguay can get investment support, Pablo Tome
, Founder and Director of Asunción Fashion Week, said that ‘one of the ways is the state program for various kinds of startups. You must have a business concept, which is related to fashion and material recycling. This way you can get extra points towards funding.’Lyudmila Tsoi
, Acting Deputy Head of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development of the City of Moscow, explained why Fashion Weeks are really needed: ‘Many people think that fashion weeks are like beautiful shows, and that’s it, but this is not so. Economics is at the core of such activities. During every catwalk show. you have buyers who watch the collections. This is one of the promotion tools. This is a way of selling everything the fashion industry makes.’ 5. Wow marketing. Impact content in the fashion industry
The participants were both Russian and foreign speakers. They discussed which fashion marketing strategies have been effective recently, what is the most attractive for the audience, how emerging designers can get into big companies, and much more. The speakers came to the conclusion that good marketing is impossible without a unique approach. If a brand contacts an influencer to have their goods advertised, it is essential that the image of this page-owner matches the brand concept.
Blogger Alexey Zhidkovsky
described his collaboration with the Russian jewelry brand Viva La Vika and explained that in order to attract the audience’s attention to a certain product, you need to make sure they think of the influencer when they see the item. The blogger explained what the collaboration was going to be like: ‘There will be decorations shaped as my cap. They are also working on the jewelry with the things I usually say. I believe these are the things I can be associated with.
Alexey Zhidkovsky added that an influencer should really match both the external and internal visuals of the brand. Otherwise, the advertising campaign is unlikely to be successful. The same method works backwards, too. Aristide Loua
, Creative Director at Kente Gentlemen, admitted that he chooses designers, photographers, stylists, and makeup artists based on whether their work matches his ideas or not. He also expressed his desire to collaborate with Russian specialists: ‘Before leaving Moscow, I would like to find some specialists who share my vibes. The main thing is that it should be a relationship similar to love at first sight.’
When asked how designers, who are unheard of yet, can become part of large companies, Gennadii Lokhtin
, Head of Department Store of Yandex Market, replied that when scouting for new employees, they focus on several parameters, namely: operation efficiency, labeling, fashion compliance etc. At the same time, it is very important that the designer offers something new to the world.
Other speakers at the session were Ruslan Martynov
, Creative Director of AE CORP, and Marshall Mutsamwira
, Director of Zimbabwe Fashion Week.