Business planning, factory sourcing, luxury consumerism, sustainability and inclusivity were all on the menu during the second day of the FTA Prize 2021 winners’ mentorship sessions in London.

After a long day of enriching information and an overflowing of knowledge at the MatchesFashion mentorship on Monday, our FTA Prize 2021 winners took another step on the pathway to success. Amid the heatwave that struck London yesterday, our designers strutted their way to the Rembrandt Hotel for a second day of mentoring with Bidayat Group.

Bidayat is an investment company with the goal to finance and give power to creative entrepreneurs by transforming their ideas and dreams into promising brands that can appeal to consumers.

If the world had a wicked sense of humor like ours, then the door to success in the fashion industry requires eleven keys and Bidayat provided six yesterday, with the remaining five to come later today.

“Creatives and entrepreneurs”

“It takes time, repetition and culture to build a company,” says Bidayat’s CEO Tugba Unkan, who kick-started the day with an introduction to business planning. At the very beginning of her lecture, Unkan made sure that all the designers understood that they are not only creatives, but also entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur should be able to quickly describe their vision, their business, the market they are operating in and all their financial resources, she said. Unkan said that it was also important to clarify that one of the key tools for focus and consistency is a Brand Book – a guide that states what makes a brand unique.

Afterwards, another enlightening discussion about factory sourcing and supply chain was given by luxury product lifecycle and sourcing expert Dalilah Hearn. According to Hearn, a supplier engagement checklist is mandatory in order to approach the industry in an ethical manner. Entrepreneurs should be able to establish if a manufacturer is worth their time by conducting research, sending follow up emails and even contacting them directly. Hearn advised that it would take three full seasons to get a supplier up and running as it’s normal for designers to have to hand hold the supplier’s hand throughout the process.

“Luxury isn’t just about what you wear, but also what you know”, according to Highsnobiety’s strategy director Tom Garland, who gave an insightful talk about luxury consumerism. And if you were wondering what the key driver of success is, then ask no longer, for the answer is “Cultural Credibility”.  A buyer should be able to identify and understand a brand’s identity, which the designer has to create through world building, curation and entertainment.

The 4 steps to sustainability

The mentorship resumed after a lunch break with a thought provoking conversation about empowering high performance team building with the Chief People Officer for Threads Styling Ltd, Kate Rand. “Defining roles and responsibilities makes a team more productive,” she said. According to Rand, it is essential to be able to give and receive feedback in an environment that can help the brand. Feedback is mainly helpful in the flow of work as it takes a moment to show someone how they can improve and team building and events are critical to performance, said Rand.

Moving forward, the Finalists engaged in a very lively discussion on sustainable fashion with Francois Souchet, BPCM’s Global Head Of Sustainability and Impact.

Souchet pointed out that in the last fifteen years, fashion production has doubled globally. However, fashion needs to decarbonize within a decade. The issue is that the fashion industry accounts for 70% of emissions in the world.

It takes four easy steps to create change, according to Souchet. The first step is education; people should raise awareness on the catastrophe that is affecting our planet, and encourage action. Then, strategy is key if a designer wants to know how to prioritize their ideas. Third is the transformation phase, where the brand makes sure that the team understands its goals and that they understand what consumers want. Finally, a brand should have a review plan where they think of new evolutions the brand could undertake and how they could positively affect biodiversity.

In order to be able to communicate the idea of sustainability, Souchet said that brands needed to focus on it at all times, this focus should be rooted in the narrative of the brand and how exactly it is sustainable. Accuracy is key, Souchet said, as brands should be precise when describing what makes them sustainable. “There is no wrong place to start, no action is too small, it’s about progressing on a journey,” he added.