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Everything You Need to Know About Vogue’s Forces of Fashion This Year

Everything You Need to Know About Vogue’s Forces of Fashion This Year

This year, Vogue’s Forces of Fashion event will be a virtual affair, held on July 7 and 8. Titled “Fashion Goes Forward,” the event will feature many notable speakers and panel discussions that you won’t want to miss. (So make sure to book those tickets early!)
Over the course of two days, a number of the fashion industry’s leading designers and icons will sit down for thought-provoking conversations. Highlights include a special panel discussion with Vogue’s Anna Wintour, British Vogue’s Edward Enninful, Vogue China’s Margaret Zhang, and Vogue Runway’s Luke Leitch, who will all offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making Vogue’s global titles.
Award-winning musician Billie Eilish and Gucci visionary creative director Alessandro Michele will also be in conversation with Vogue’s Chioma Nnadi to discuss how they’ve shaped their respective industries. Designers such as Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, Maison Margiela’s John Galliano, and Chloé’s Gabriela Hearst will all speak as well. Topics in the panels will range from what it takes to build a brand with impeccable authenticity to what goes into making it as a top fashion stylist.
All these panels will be done in English and available to watch live or on demand after the event until July 29. So what are you waiting for? Tickets, which come in several tiers, are available on the Forces of Fashion website now. (The all-access tickets are already sold out, so act fast.) Click here for the full lineup.
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If You Want Renzo Rosso’s Number, Get a Mentorship at OTB

If You Want Renzo Rosso’s Number, Get a Mentorship at OTB

MILAN — Renzo Rosso continues to support emerging talents around the globe.
The Italian entrepreneur will be part of the jury for the first edition of the Yu Prize, a competition organized by fashion investor Wendy Yu aimed at promoting emerging Chinese designers. The winner amongst the 16 finalists — comprised of At-One-Ment, Chen Peng, Danshan, Donsee10, 8on8, Garçon by Gçogcn, Oude Waag, Ming Ma, Redemptive, Shie Lyu, Shushu/Tong, Shuting Qiu, Susan Fang, Yueqi Qi, Windowsen and ZI II CII EN — will be revealed in April during Shanghai Fashion Week.
Along with being part of the jury, which counts a range of high-profile fashion personalities, such as designers Diane von Furstenberg, Giambattista Valli and Jason Wu, as well as Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Andrew Bolton and Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s president Pascal Morand, Rosso, through his OTB group, will offer the winner a one-year mentorship. OTB, where Rosso sits at the helm as chief executive officer, is the parent company of brands like Marni, Maison Margiela, Diesel and Viktor & Rolf, as well as Amiri, in which the Italian group has a minority stake.

“I’m really happy to take part to this talent contest in China, which is becoming the biggest market for the fashion industry,” said Rosso. “I think it’s so important for a group like ours to be connected with the young talents, especially in such a fast-growing, stimulating country like China.”

According to Rosso, his group’s participation with the Yu Prize also gives it the chance to learn more about the Chinese local market and to show OTB’s loyalty to China.
As the entrepreneur revealed, the brands under the OTB umbrella are all growing extremely well in China. “The one that is really performing above expectations is Maison Margiela,” said Rosso, who has recently acquired 100 percent of the Jil Sander brand.
Rosso is certainly not new to talent competitions.
Previously with Diesel and then with OTB, the fashion entrepreneur was the first to sponsor International Talent Support, the contest holding its 19th edition in 2021 that scouted a range of names including Demna Gvasalia.
In addition, Rosso is the only Italian jury member for the annual ANDAM French fashion prize, which has increased the amount of its grand prize to 300,000 euros for the this year’s edition. Rosso has been president of the jury and mentor for the talent contest twice. Over the years, ANDAM had among its winners Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf’s Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, as well as Glenn Martens, who was named creative director of Diesel last year.
Rosso also took part in Camera Nazionale della Moda Italian’a Milano Moda Graduate initiative, giving visibility to the most promising talents at the Milanese fashion schools. In the past he supported the winners of the CFDA/Vogue Fund by financing the “Americans in Paris” project.
“Scouting and supporting young creatives has always been part of the DNA of OTB, where we have a talent acquisition team that every week is in touch with the most important fashion schools to organize meetings and mentorship programs,” said Rosso, citing for example Central Saint Martins in London, the Shenkar Institute in Tel Aviv, the Accademia Costume e Moda in Rome, as well as IED, Polimoda, Marangoni and Domus Academy in Milan.

Additionally, OTB develops continuous collaborations with prestigious universities, such as Politecnico in Milan, Ca’ Foscari in Venice and La Sapienza in Rome. “We also work with a range of local technical institutes, offering the classes with our managers, but also providing them with fabrics and materials to help the students’ developing their projects.”
Rosso is also personally involved in mentorship programs that over the years opened the doors of OTB to a range of talents, including Alexandre Mattiussi. “I give them my personal cell number and they can call me to ask me anything,” said Rosso. “Depending on the different talents, we create customized paths to discover all the different aspects of our companies and to give them the training that they need, according to their specific desires.”

EXCLUSIVE: Chloé Quietly Shifts to Purpose-Driven Business Model

EXCLUSIVE: Chloé Quietly Shifts to Purpose-Driven Business Model

While some fashion folk might equate Chloé with great-fitting pants, pretty blouses and handbags with interesting hardware, the brand’s raison d’être goes much deeper.
Aided by French sociologists and the company’s own braintrust, chief executive officer Riccardo Bellini discovered in Chloé’s roots a strong commitment to women’s freedom and progress, and it inspired him to retool the brand’s business model to one that is purpose-driven, community-based and accountable, in addition to being highly creative.
“We’re moving from a phase of collections to a phase of connections. Doing collections is not enough anymore. How you connect with your audience, how you nurture that connection, how you grow that connection is a continuous process of exploration today,” he said. “What a brand stands for, its beliefs and values, will become as relevant as products and aesthetics.”

Riccardo Bellini  JL DENOIX/Courtesy of Chloe

In his first interview since joining the Compagnie Financière Richemont-owned fashion house in December, Bellini disclosed that Chloé plans to:
• Create a social profit and loss account, akin to an EP&L, which is first for the industry.
• Seek B Corp certification for its social and environmental performance.
• Establish an “impact fund” dedicated to girls’ education.
• Create an advisory board of experts to guide the company and hold it accountable.

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• Accelerate creative innovation across collections, while incorporating social entrepreneurs into its supply chain.
“This is not idealism,” he stressed during a wide-ranging conversation over Zoom. “The very concept of purpose-driven is combining profitable growth with a positive contribution to the planet, society and community.
“Our motto is beautiful, profitable and meaningful,” he said with a smile.
A pensive, yet ebullient executive, Bellini acknowledged that when he joined Chloé one year ago from Maison Margiela, his mission was to restore energy and growth to a brand whose business had softened, and which had perhaps strayed from the disruptive spirit of its feisty founder, Gaby Aghion.
If that wasn’t already a tall order, then the coronavirus pandemic hit, which only reaffirmed Bellini’s commitment to a “profound transformation of our business model.”
That said, the executive was convinced that “any future plans should be fundamentally rooted in the real spirit and genetics of the brand, and this led me to an amazing exploration of the DNA and core values.”
Luckily, Aghion left a rich and inspiring mark in fashion as a pioneer in luxury ready-to-wear, establishing her house in 1952 with a mission to liberate women from the rigidity of couture.
The Egyptian-born entrepreneur had a simple vision: using fine fabrics to create feminine, alluring clothes that required minimal alteration. She saw them as an antidote to stiff formality, and a new option for women as they increasingly entered the workforce.
Also among her innovations was giving her brand a female pronoun, and letting a rotating cast of design talents, headlined by Karl Lagerfeld, interpret her free-spirited attitude.
Recounting its various chapters, Bellini recalled how Lagerfeld brought romanticism, fluidity and storytelling; Stella McCartney, girl power, British cool and a touch of sexiness; Phoebe Philo, modern and effortless chic; Hannah MacGibbon, Seventies hip and Eighties glamour; Clare Waight Keller, a bohemian cachet, and Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Chloé’s current creative director, strength and edginess.

“Each designer brought a different aesthetic,” he said, but each was based on the idea of an inspiring, unapologetic femininity.
Delving deep into that topic, his sociologists described a progressive vision of femininity rooted in the belief that women are the key changemakers in the world whose potential must be unlocked.
While Bellini divulged Chloé’s transformation for the first time in this WWD interview, the company has already quietly taken several steps as a purpose-driven enterprise.
In 2019, Chloé established Girls Forward, a three-year partnership with UNICEF to provide girls with skills to advance in the workplace through education, entrepreneurship and training programs in five countries: Bolivia, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Tajikistan. According to UNICEF, girls are three times more likely than boys to drop out of school, whereas women with secondary education tend to earn twice as much as those with no education.
Earlier this year, the brand unveiled a program of conversations and performances on Instagram called Chloé Voices. Participants have included British illustrator Julie Verhoeven, Lebanese influencer Nour Arida, South African photographer Tony Gum, and Congolese-Belgian singer Marie-Pierra Kakoma, AKA Lous and the Yakuza.
Chloé Voices with photographer Tony Gum.  Courtesy of Chloe

“This has been incredibly successful in terms of  level of engagement simply because it was built on this notion of community,” Bellini said, explaining that the Voices concept moved the focus “from the vision of a singular woman to a community of women” while reinforcing the “positive” spirit of the brand and a positive outlook on the world.
“The brand has always had a very strong optimistic and joyful component,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Chloé’s spring 2021 fashion show, held outdoors in early October in the shadow of the Palais de Tokyo, saw the brand break from the more traditional runway format to which it had hewed in recent years. Bellini noted that Aghion staged her first fashion show in 1956 at the Café de Flore in Paris, a boisterous hangout for artists and intellectuals, a dramatic contrast to the stiff and formal salon showings of France’s storied couture houses.
At the spring 2021 show, models were first seen on giant screens — chatting in groups, walking with purpose, talking on cell phones on nearby streets and bridges of Paris — before arriving on the set in roomy pants, easy three-hole dresses and T-shirts bearing words by the late American artist Corita Kent. A religious sister, Kent won acclaim in the Sixties for her slogan-based works about poverty, racism and war, and her messages of peace and social justice.
As a whole, the display telegraphed everyday life, togetherness, and positive action, and marked “the beginning of creative renewal,” according to Bellini, stressing that the entire creative studio, led by Ramsay-Levi, is heavily invested in the brand’s new focus. “Our creative director is the first ambassador of such a vision,” he noted.
Among the products launched in the show was the Kiss bag, its metal handle shaped like an abstract pucker.
The striking style reflected that the brand had recruited talents in leather goods — as well as in shoes and rtw — to further drive product innovation, which remains a key focus for the brand, Bellini said.
Chloé’ s new Kiss bag for spring 2021.  Courtesy of Chloe

Meanwhile, the coronavirus crisis prompted other reflections at Chloé, and Bellini cited efforts to accelerate the label’s digital transformation, elevate its distribution and recalibrate its exposure to the wholesale channel.
In May, Chloé signed a petition for a more sensible and sustainable fashion calendar spearheaded by designer Dries Van Noten. Known as the “forum letter,” it aims to better align fashion deliveries with seasons and stamp out early markdowns.
In line with the petition’s principles, Chloé reduced the size of its collections, shifted the delivery cadence to match the clothes to the weather, and toughened its stance on early sales.
As for sustainability commitments, Bellini is convinced that “companies will have to take more responsibility and accountability for the impact they have on the planet and society” and forge “trustworthy relationships with consumers.”
He stressed that the approach is “not a CSR strategy on the side,” but rather an integrated approach to doing less harm and more good. “How can we use our business model, our products, as a tool to deliver positive contribution to the world,” he explained.
Chloé’s supply chain will shift toward more “women-led social enterprises,” Bellini said. Starting next year, for example, it will source jewelry from an atelier in North Africa whose artisan are all survivors of molestation, trained in the art of jewelry making. “We can actively support women entrepreneurs and create positive social contributions.”
Last year Chloé established an environmental profit and loss account, setting a roadmap through 2025 to reduce its eco impact. And now Bellini is collaborating with French fashion school IFM, or Institut Français de la Mode, to develop a methodology for a social profit-and-loss account. While the research is only starting, the company plans to open-source the tool, which is believed to be a first in the industry.
Chloé, spring 2021  Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Bellini said the fashion house is “pretty advanced” on its way to B Corp certification, having created a task force and initiated an assessment process covering its governance, teams, environment, communities, clients and transparency. B Lab measures a company’s social and environmental performance, and has already certified the likes of Patagonia, Allbirds and Athleta.
The overall reinvention plan is know internally as the “Chloé Forward” plan and marks a shift from “a shareholder approach to a larger stakeholder business model,” Bellini said, describing the company as being “at the beginning of a journey” that will take about five years to fully implement.
On his side is a brand that “remains extremely strong in consumers’ minds,” one that is “stronger than any of its designers,” and one that engenders affection.
“We are a French maison with an Anglo-Saxon spirit that is rooted in values that are today extremely modern for luxury and extremely relevant,” he asserted. “It’s a brand about attitude and not status at a moment when just buying for status is becoming less and less relevant. It’s a brand that’s very spontaneous and not institutional, and it’s very empathetic and not distant. These are all extremely current qualities, and right for today.”
Bellini recently ran into an avid luxury shopper on Avenue Montaigne, her arms loaded with bags from half-a-dozen of the marquee European brands on the tony thoroughfare, and he quizzed her about her purchases. The woman was upfront about what each of them represented to her, and told the executive that “Chloé is my second skin.”
“It was the best focus group I’ve ever done,” he said with a chuckle, lauding a remark that suggested a “close, empathetic relationship with the wearer.”
The executive said he remains committed to brick-and-mortar retail and forecast that about 70 percent of the company’s business will continue to be done in this channel, thanks to the “emotional connection” it fosters. That said, he also predicted the “disappearance of undifferentiated, mediocre retail.”
Bellini acknowledged that many people  in the company questioned the relevance of fashion at the outset of the crisis, when health and wellness came to the forefront. But now Chloé’s employees, 83 percent of whom are women, are embracing the company’s higher purpose with zeal.
The set at Chloé’s spring 2021 show.  Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

While its focus will no doubt resonate strongly with Millennials and Gen Z, Bellini stressed “this was not the starting point of our transformation.…I firmly believe these are values that are extremely relevant to many women in the world today.”
While reluctant to share numbers or specific performance indicators in line with Richemont’s policy, Bellini cited recent improvements in trading, in line with other luxury firms that reported a rebound in sales in the third quarter, driven by China.
“What we are seeing now is actually a very gradual rebound and recovery across all categories, with our accessory business and our shoe business starting to grow at a good speed,” he said.
Richemont reported second-quarter results last week and said its “other” businesses, which include Chloé, Dunhill, Montblanc, Peter Millar and Azzedine Alaïa, saw sales fall 24 percent in its second quarter, versus a 59 percent drop in the first quarter.
In Bellini’s estimation, a challenging market and shifting values and priorities mean fashion houses must chart new ways of doing business.
“The big task of leaders today is to truly envision change and to lead change, in a moment in which we’re living a profound transformation,” he said.
See Also:
Chloé Signs Petition to Overhaul Fashion Calendar
Chloé RTW Spring 2021
Making the Case for Runway Shows

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