Afingo Fashion Forum 2011

I recently attended the 2011 Afingo Fashion Form held at FIT in New York City.  The conversations were really educational and brought up many important questions about the world of fashion. Here are a few quotes and interesting points from the forum.

Sustainability & Philanthropy Forum-  About 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dye and 16% of pesticide from cotton production.  We don’t know how much time or effort it’ll take to reduce pollution, but we can begin by asking big players who have the largest footprint and impact (e.g. Walmart, Payless, Gap) to rethink their production process.   Designers Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra talked about their parternship with eco dye company Air Dye.  Their textile dyeing technique helped Costello Tagliapietra save gallons of water per dress with minimal affect on cost and time of production.  Consumers need to be re-educated to buy vintage and to treat our purchases as long term investments and wear items as long as possible. Is the term “green” becoming overused and even negativ?   Fashion specialists on the panel encouraged designers to focus on design first and continue using eco-friendly processes so that eco-friendly/green will become a norm rather than a special label for niche.

Ready to Launch your Line –  Randi Packard, (Fashion Market Director, RealSimple.com), Steven Cox + Daniel Silver (Co-founders, Duckie Brown), Adam Lippes (designer), Bibhu Mohapatra (Designer)
Designers talked about how they started their lines, got funding and difficulties faced.  The rules for launching your line?   The overwhelming consensus from the designers was to be passionate and persistent.  Of course talent and knowing your raft is integral, but some talented designers are not successful and vice versa.  Steven Cox and Daniel Silver of Duckie Brown said it took them ten years to really get their name to the level that they wanted.  Adam Lippes, Bibhu Mohapatra, Daniel Silver had all worked for other designers before starting their own lines.  Steven Cox, however was a TV producer with no apparel background.  Miguelina Gambaccini of Miguelina had no prior experience in fashion before starting her line.

 Jill Fehrenbacher (Founder Inhabitat.com), Jeffrey Costello, and Robert Tagliapietra (Designers, Costello Tagliapietra)

Julie Gilhart, Summer Rayne Oakes (Eco-Model, Source4style.com, Lisa Salzer (Lulufrost.com)

Summer Rayne Oakes, Lisa Salzer
Iconic Wisdon – Interviewer Nick Axelrod with designer, Cynthia Rowley

Iconic Wisdom – Nick Axelrod interviewed designer Cynthia Rowley.  Cynthia Rowley’s prolific career began with a fortuitous encounter in the Chicago Subway when she was an art student in Chicago. A woman approached her, asked about the jacket she was wearing, and wanted to see the rest of her collection.  Cynthia rushed to sew her first collection over the weekend and that was the start of her design empire.  Cynthia talked about her all encompassing desire to design.   “I just want to make everything, as much as possible”.   Her love for design in general has led to outside-the-box collaborations with companies like Johnson and Johnson to create a Cynthia Crowley bandaid line and Roxie for wetsuits. Cynthia also is very open to new ideas and started an initiative in her company called “Pretty Penny” which gives her staff the opportunity to present an idea for a new business and the one which is voted most likely to succeed gets funded.

L to R: Randi Packard, (Fashion Market Director, RealSimple.com), Steven Cox + Daniel Silver (Co-founders, Duckie Brown), Adam Lippes (designer), Bibhu Mohapatra (Designer)

Christene Barberich, Editor-in-chief, Refinery29, Pam Bristow (Creative Consultant), Elizabeht Grinspan (Racked NY), Keith Pollock (Elle.com, Patrick Bradbury (Bradbury Lewis), Michele Cerwin (HL Group)

Social Media & Publicity – Twitter, Blogger – Blogs are mainstream now.  Know your niche. Create complimentary content.
‘PR is not PR anymore, it’s branding, social media.”
Pam Bristow  – Fashion brands need to be their own press, have their own message. 360 communications plan. Creating content. You’re almost your own magazine. Thinking about film, music. e.g. opeing ceremony – they’re not only doing fashion – Tron, Where the wild things are, It’s so integral to what people are looking for now.
What are the biggest mistakes in social media/PR?  Blasted emails that are not personalized and in boldface. Product or brand has no connection to my brand.  “I respond to almost email” says  Keith Pollock of Elle”.However you ned to tailor it to Elle blog. “There has to be personal connection or I won’t respond.”

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