• Marilyn Quarshie

Vogue Fashion Festival: Day 1

Updated: Jan 9, 2019

source: vogue.fr

This year’s third edition of the Vogue Fashion Festival was held at the elegant and beautiful Hotel Potocki in the heart of Paris. Fashion academics and fashion lovers alike came together for the two-day festival equipped with conferences, panel talks, master classes and interviews from some of Fashions most reputable experts. Guest speakers such as Virgil Abloh- designer and Founder of Off-White, Ashley Graham- Famed plus size model, Chiara Ferragni- fashion influencer and owner of The Blonde Salad blog were among many of the notable speakers that were present to share their knowledge and expertise of the fashion and luxury industry during the event.

The theme for this year’s festival was “Fashion and its new Frontiers”, focusing on the geographical boundaries, as well as the relation with technology and humans, gender boundaries and age.

I had the opportunity to attend the afternoon portion of day 1 of the festival and listen to the following guest speakers speak and educate the audience on various insightful topics about the fashion and luxury industry. The common re-occurring topic was technology and digitalization and the importance of brands embracing these key components to connect with consumers.

The first speaker was Joëlle de Montgolfier; she is the senior director of Bain & Company. In this very fact and data based discussion, Montgolfier spoke about luxury now and in the future and the new challenges that the luxury and fashion industry are currently facing. With the luxury market equating to 10 segments of the market and luxury cars and hospitality representing 80% of the market, luxury goods are expected to grow and reach € 365-390 billion in 2025. Luxury has changed significantly with the emergence of new categories such as sneakers, denim, down jacket, t-shirts, parka’s etc., being considered luxury as well and accounting for 5% of the luxury market today. Companies like Walmart generate 2/3 of their revenue from the luxury industry showing that there is room for growth. Montgolfier also spoke about new growth areas in the luxury industry, which include demographics, experience seeking, digital and technological experience and purposeful consumption. She mentioned that the next meaningful shift will be generational with Gen Y (millennials) and Gen Z accounting for 45% of the market by 2025. In the growing times of urgency where consumers want things right away, uniqueness is another key component for brands in connecting with consumers, as consumers want more intimate personalized products and experiences. Another phenomenon that expands the frontiers of the market is online sales for luxury goods as consumers are participating more in online shopping for luxury. Some recommendations Montgolfier suggested was that organizations should reinvent the ways they look at things, example having an online presence by starting a blog, adapting e-commence and see how it will impact the business, as well as embracing the future and applying a nobler mission that is meaningful and sustainable.

Next up was Paolo de Cesare, the CEO of Printemps. He spoke about how the retail market has changed significantly in the past 20-30 years even more so to than they expected for the trajectory of the luxury market. He emphasized how retailers have to realize that e-commerce is critical for the future success of retail businesses and the number one priority and concern for all department stores in the world should be digital integration. New marketing language and tools should also be incorporated to connect with consumers to better serve their wants and needs. He also spoke about the current challenges of editorial, with social media growing by 38% since 2016 and the word influencer changing over the years, social media influencers have emerged as integral parts of brands marketing strategies. Who is more influential, the brand, social media influencer or celebrity? Brands have to think differently in how they interact with customers digitally considering which promoting stream would be more beneficial as it relates to the awareness, conversion and sales for retail businesses.

source: vogue.fr

Grégory Boutté, the director of digital and customer relations at Kering was next to talk about the digital strategy inside Kering. His role involves supporting each of the group’s houses and finding bespoke solutions to issues based on ecommerce, customer relationship management, in-store digital and big data. He spoke about the online and offline eco-systems of different global regions with Korea, Japan, and China representing every growing market of the industry. Due to the awareness of digital and e-commerce business that is rocketing with sales increasing by 88%, he mentioned how digital can play a role within luxury with digital instruments and tools improving brands. There is a want in the luxury industry to integrate these new tools and the key at Kering is to recruit the best data scientists in the industry who understand the needs of customers and create the right programs for them. With technology and data, they are able to give better experiences than before and gradually create new ways to work with brands. Their aim is to say ahead of the game by improving customer experience and remaining alert with knowing where the market is going.

source: vogue.fr

Lili Chen, the Head of Alibaba’s Luxury Pavilion, an online platform that offers quality online shopping experience to Chinese consumers, spoke about how Chinese millenials are redefining luxury with the Chinese market being the largest market in the world. Chen emphasized how the Chinese market has a very fast and smart consumer base and the new generation of 19- 30 years old are spending more time on luxury. She mentioned some top consumer trends that are currently impacting the market such as: buying more technology related products, buying more fashion accessories as a way to show personality and uniqueness and purchasing luxury more for experience. She also expressed how brands DNA need to be deeply aligned with their economical model and create seamless innovating experiences to express heritage and identity. During her presentation, Chen announced the launch of Alibaba Group’s digital influencer- Noonoouri who would be the first ambassador of the luxury pavilion and its new “Maison” concept launching on December 7th, 2018.

The last speaker for the evening, Anne-Véronique Baylac who is the Director of the luxury and beauty division at Google was joined with Shiho Fukuhara, leader of research and development for the fashion platform Jacquard. Baylac spoke about the space-time paradigm with luxury and took us though the time scale and highlighted how luxury is more than just and industry, it is a universe in itself. With the idea of luxury, new technology is a source of inspiration and new technology offers users great abilities to preserve and educate. She also mentioned how artificial intelligence allows us to do things the human brain cannot do, as well as virtual/augmented reality making the impossible possible, creating new possibilities in terms of story telling and allowing users to experience a whole view/scene around them. Baylac then talked about some of the new innovative products that Google is working on to help customers better experience and discover products such as, “Future Google Lens” which allows you to take a picture of an object on your phone and it pulls up options similar to that product online in order to be able to shop directly. Three take-a ways that she left us with, was that availability and existence of platform equals freedom, technology is an additional tool for creation and excellence is born out of experiments therefore, we must fail fast and a lot before reaching our desired results.

Overall, the event was very insightful and informative, the topics presented by the speakers, definitely reinforced the importance of technology and embracing as well as integrating new technology in order to keep up with the new frontiers of the fashion and luxury industry.

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