What do you get when you gather designer Yeojin Bae, GQ Asia Pacific Editorial Director Grant Pearce, master-consultant David Bush and CEO of Practicology Asia Pacific Chris Vincent in a Crown Conference room at the early hour of 8am? Strong opinions, plenty of giggle-evoking charisma and an invaluable dose of fashion-business-wisdom.
That, and a panel discussion that somehow managed to dissect the inexhaustible topic, “Design with destiny, plan with purpose and captivate your customer.” And without doubt, customer was the buzzword of the breakfast session. Who are they? What do they want? How do they shop? When do they shop? And on which platforms do they want to engage? The contemporary customer is a very powerful enigma; and thanks to social media, their desire to interact directly with brands is only getting bigger.
Secondly but not secondarily, remaining loyal to your product and signature also emerged as a vital – but often overlooked theme. Yeojin Bae began her label with a set of ten dresses. Fittingly, ten years later, the cocktail frock remains the bread and butter of her brand. As David Bush reiterated, “You can’t be everything for everyone. You can try, but you will fail.”
Predictably but just as important, the power of digitalism in promoting a brand was also discussed. Chris Vincent tapped on the importance of marrying the online experience with bricks and mortar selling, and balancing commerciality with aesthetics when developing a digital presence.
Grant Pearce elaborated on using the World Wide Web to your advantage.“Social media has destroyed the very essence of a purely domestic brand. Today, no matter how small you are, you’re global,” he said.
Aptly, the forum concluded with speakers urging young entrepreneurs to plan for both today and tomorrow. And perhaps more reassuringly, while the ‘global’ mantra was on repeat, the panel concluded with some encouraging advice: local is still hard to beat. The consumer is omnipresent, yes. But we can benefit from the fact ‘she’ yearns to feel closely connected and geographically involved.
And as for the future of manufacturing on Aussie soil? As consumers and business people alike, it’s our responsibility to keep the ‘Made in Australia’ label alive.
From: Takeways from: Fashion Industry Forum at Virgin Melbourne Fashion Festival by Amy Campbell.