YJP Fashion Summit Tips from Top Fashion CEO’s
RMG was a proud host of the YJP’s first ever Fashion & Beauty Summit on March 3rd, 2010 at The Chelsea Pearl in Manhattan, NY. Hundreds of young professionals from the apparel, accessories, beauty and footwear industries attended the event.
The evening featured CEO’s from top fashion lines including:
Abe Chehebar (Chairman, Accessory Network)
Sam Edelmen (CEO of Sam Edelman Shoes)
Efraim Grinberg (Chairman, Movado Group)
Brendan Hoffman (President & CEO, Lord & Taylor)
Andrew Rosen (President & CEO, Theory)
Mark Weber (Charmain & CEO of Donna Karan International & CEO of LVMH)
The CEO’s had some great advice for aspiring fashionistas & entrepreneurs looking to get into the business. They also commented on the widespread importance of the integration of social media into fashion PR & Marketing and discussed their most challenging “Devil Wears Prada” moments throughout the duration of their fashion careers. We captured the most compelling quotes from the CEO’s during the open panel discussion.
What is the most important attribute you have to possess for getting into the industry?
“You must have passion! Passion & experience are critical. Corporate culture is also important- get involved in a company whose culture you aspire to be part of.”
What are your thoughts on the ever-changing aspect of fashion and how it plays into marketing & the economy?
“The most important thing to ask yourself is- do you have a product that is appealing to a wide audience? Make sure you have a great product and that you understand your customer before marketing to them.” Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Lord & Taylor
What about the hiring process for those interested in starting a career in fashion today?
“I recommended working for someone first and gaining experience. A lot of the overall decision-making process is based on instincts. My top advice for hiring is to have a gut instinct, react emotionally and always disaster check!” Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory
“Learn about the corporate culture in the company you are interested in working for- it is the most important thing in a company. I originally came to Lord & Taylor from Neimans, and shortly after joining the company the market crashed. I was brought up to use analytics first, but I now rely on my instinct more and have literally repositioned my brain.” Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Lord & Taylor
What is the current status of the luxury business today and what advice can you give to others in the industry?
“The luxury business is alive and well- people who spend money will continue to. You have to develop a great product and create a name that stands for something. I would also point out that interaction with consumer enhances your ability to navigate your business.” Mark Weber, CEO of Donna Karan & LVMH
“Streamline business and empower people.” Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Lord & Taylor
“I went from selling $2000 handbags at Neimans to $200 handbags Lord & Taylor- at the end of the day both bags are still luxury items. You now have the opportunity to create a luxury environment for your consumer at multiple price points.” Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Lord & Taylor
“I made my career selling to retailers- today the model of the business has changed and the future of business rests with the retailer.”
“Control your product and pricing. Be good at what you do and you’ll be your competitor.”
“Luxury can be at very different price points- what it can’t be is cheap!” Abe Chehebar, Chairman, Accessory Network
“Luxury from Hermes & Gucci is based on quality. When there’s a quality Commodity, luxury will always survive. You must give an image to the buyer and you have to buy quality products.”
“People must appreciate the DNA of the brand- when this occurs the brand will always thrive regardless of economy.”
“The most important value proposition is that the product must have a clear DNA. For example, how did Tory Burch create a great product? She spoke to her customer in the language they wanted to hear.”
What is your best career advice?
“Find something you LOVE. When you are young you have the choice to find a career that suits you. 99% out of the days I love what I do!” Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory
“Everyone has everything you need- we are in the “want” business.” Mark Weber, CEO of Donna Karan & LVMH
“Success is limited to your imagination- products shouldn’t prohibit your creativity.”
“The best way to create value is not about promoting the wrong price- promote the brand name and image as well as attributes that make it desirable.”
How is social media impacting the fashion world?
“Social media is impacting the fashion world by creating brand awareness and increasing web traffic to new products.”
“We are currently building a fan base for several of our brands on Facebook. Social media marketing enables you to really find the people who are passionate about your brand and it gives you a chance to directly communicate with them. We love finding these people and try our best to now respond to them through social media within 24 hours. We also look at reviews on people’s web sites and blogs. Social media will rise very fast in the fashion world within the next 12-18 months.” Abe Chehebar, Chairman, Accessory Network
“Facebook, Twitter & all of the mediums are new and the industry has not yet recognized the potential. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to interact with the consumer via social networks.”
1 CEO’s response when questioned on social media: “We are all over it!”