By Viktorija Martinenaite

Fashion Business Course panel discussion 'Opportunities vs Reality' at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite
Fashion Business Course panel discussion ‘Opportunities vs Reality’ at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite

Last Friday marked the end of a fascinating event put together by Fashion Bloc and Felicities PR, a three-day fashion business course which enabled fashion entrepreneurs and emerging designer brands to understand the specifics and build connections in the UK fashion market. The third and last day of the seminars were rounded up by an industry panel discussion at Istituto Marangoni London discussing the European fashion capital. Three fashion experts from different backgrounds came together to form a panel and discuss the ‘Opportunities vs. reality in the European fashion capital’. Guest speakers at the final event of the Fashion business course included Patricia Lindo, founder of the luxury recruitment agency Style Incorporated, Alison Lowe, Managing Director of Felicities PR, and Darcy Rive, Editor of the HisKind magazine, interviewed by Fashion Bloc founder Ieva Zu. The panel and a networking reception were attended by Istituto Marangoni students, alumni, fashion industry guests and course participants.

Fashion Business Course networking Reception at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite
Fashion Business Course networking Reception at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite
Fashion Business Course networking Reception at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite
Fashion Business Course networking Reception at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite

Fashion Industry is Brutal

One of the main points brought up by the panellists was the fact that today’s fashion industry is brutal and perhaps not as glamorous as it once was. Those seeking to break into the industry quite often think that they are special and can be a successful designer and easily set up their label, but the truth is, it’s not as easy as it seems. As Ms Lowe stated, the industry is very competitive, and ‘if you want to succeed, you must be unique, work hard and do your research’. This point was furthered by Patricia Lindo; despite there being much competition, there is still a wealth of opportunities available and many other major components to consider. Roles such as merchandisers, pattern cutters and studio managers are commonly bypassed and underestimated, yet they play a key part in the fashion design industry. For those who have just graduated, lacking money or support, fashion editor Darcy Rive advised not to be scared to ask for help: if you keep knocking, doors will always open, even if it’s the European fashion capital.

Fashion Business Course panel discussion 'Opportunities vs Reality' at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite
Fashion Business Course panel discussion ‘Opportunities vs Reality’ at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite

Social Media Took Over the Fashion Week

The panel also acknowledged that the digital age has radically changed the way people communicate. Twenty years ago fashion magazines were solely responsible for spreading fashion trends around the world; Ms Lindo remembered herself having discussed fashion shows with friends, flipping through the pages of the magazines that were the only source of that visual information once.

It is no longer a secret that social media has transformed the coverage of fashion weeks. Today, we have fashion bloggers and vloggers expressing their opinions online. Do these bloggers attending fashion shows actually see what is on the runways, the fabrics, the hours of work put into those pieces of art? Or, as Ms Lowe, questions, is it all about the number of shows you have visited and the pictures you posted on social media? To keep fashion glamorous, it’s imperative to be involved and present at the moment and have gratitude for what you are seeing.

Fashion Business Course at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite
Fashion Business Course at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite

Fashion Comes from Eastern Europe

On the other hand, social media is very powerful, if you know how to use it. Having worked as a fashion editor, Mr Rive pointed out that Social media is a great tool for young fashion entrepreneurs who perhaps may not have enough resources for PR agencies, stylists or editors, to get noticed by both, the industry and consumers. This also gives an opportunity to the designer brands from outside of London to be discovered. Today’s trend, says Ms Lowe, is fashion from the Eastern Europe – more and more brands come from the former Soviet countries such as Georgia or Ukraine that are no longer seen as the outskirts of the fashion map.

Fashion Business Course networking Reception at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite
Fashion Business Course networking Reception at Istituto Marangoni London photo Laura Gedvilaite

There are so many great opportunities in the UK Fashion market. We all must take it upon ourselves to bring our knowledge into the fashion industry. The biggest piece of advice the speakers gave was to believe in yourself and your passion.