So what is Fashion, Culture, and Design?
SC: It’s an unconference. One day, 10 conversations, 40 speakers, no cliches or PR product pitches. Unlike other conferences, the attendees will be able to engage with speakers. Every panel will have a healthy Q&A portion and I encourage everyone to bring their questions. Fashion, culture and design affect each other and just about everything else and I think it’s time we had an honest and upfront conversation about them. New York City is one of the global centers of design thinking and so it’s a great place to start.
You describe yourself as a creative seditionary, can you elaborate on this?
SC: I’m unable to put up with poor design or bad ideas. When I see them I have to say something and do something, even if it creates waves. Sometimes big waves. This has led to controversy and a bit of a reputation as a provocateur. I’m fine with that. When I mentioned the idea of FCD to a few friends there was great enthusiasm. People who are in very influential positions want us to take a stick and poke the status quo. It’s only grown bigger since then.
What are you most excited about FCD?
SC: I love to learn, to meet people and to share knowledge. Everyone at FCD, including speakers and attendees, will walk away with new ideas, new friends and new ways to do things better.
What is the most innovative trend you’ve seen in Fashion, Culture and Design for 2016?
SC: I’m delighted by the collision of technology and responsible design. When Elon Musk launched the new Tesla Model 3 and it took $14.5B in pre-orders, that suggests a lot of people care about high quality and responsible design. That’s especially encouraging given the Luddite ravings of the current Republican climate-change-deniers.
As you are an influential person in the fashion industry, how do you feel about the term “influencers”? Will the role of influencers in fashion continue to be as important as it is now?
SC: There have always been influential people in fashion and every other aspect of culture. From Beau Brummel to Coco Chanel to Anna Wintour to Margaret Zhang. What excites me now is these people are no longer confined to positions of authority. Sure there are established influencers like Vogue, but for a while now we’ve also had teenage social media stars who can still be at school and yet they exert huge influence. The old rules are no longer the only rules. We’re addressing that at FCD with our panels such as ‘Just What Are Social Media Sensations Actually Talking About?’, and ‘Is a Good Instagram Post Worth More Than a Double Page in a September Issue?’
Digital vs Offline? One could argue that experiencing fashion in person and encountering that “personal touch” are just as important, if not more important, than having an active online and e-comm presence for a brand. In your opinion, what marketing methods are the most effective right now?
SC: I find that the term and the idea of ‘marketing’ isn’t enough to describe what’s working these days. Marketing feels like only one part of the story that people are experiencing from successful brands. These days I think people expect to be part of a story. In my mind that means consumers read about a brand in editorials, they see the brand represented in non-traditional arenas like on stage at FCD, they receive editorial news from the brand that doesn’t focus on selling, they have a reason other than simply buying product to interact with the brand (pop-up events in stores or elsewhere that are not focused on selling), they read about brands’ positions on issues that matter to them (like same-sex marriage), they see people they identify with wearing or using the brand. And then when they finally (subconsciously?) need to buy a piece of the brand it doesn’t matter whether it’s online or in person because they’re already committed.
But that’s just my opinion, at FCD we have some of the smartest people in the business waiting to debate it, people like Sarah Rutson (Net-a-Porter), Marigay McKee (MM Luxe, ex Harrods and Saks), Tony King (King and Partners) and Eddie Mullon (founder of Fashion GPS).