The 30th IAF World Fashion Convention kicked off yesterday in Medellin, Colombia, being the first time IAF is holding its annual event in South America. The more than 300 delegates from 20 countries were offered interesting visions on the convention’s theme: “Understanding the challenges of the fashion system”.
Each of the first day 7 speakers, excellently moderated by Eduardo Braun, gave his or her vision on the future of the industry. Emiliano Duch, Lead Specialist, Trade & Competitiveness from the World Bank advised governments to modernize their support of the fashion industry, from investing in big industrial parks, which only fosters the lowest paying jobs, to the support of local brands and retail.
Claudio Chiaromonte. Executive Vice President and Managing Director for The Walt Disney Company Latin America showed the audience how big companies have perfected the art of delivering to consumers anytime, anyplace, through any format, by any payment. Horacio Broggi. Director of Desigual Latin showed us some secrets of the success of the phenomenal growth of Desigual, from 8 to 800 million euros in 10 years time. It is able to transfer real emotion into the very distinctively printed and seductively lined products. And its multichannel approach leads to great visibility.
Then the delegates were treated to a unique and impressive experience. Adriano Goldschmied who is called the godfather of jeans because of his incredible record of creating premium jeans brands, took the delegates on a journey of the development of the premium jeans segment by way of his own personal pictures. The pictures told brilliantly how the right people came together at the right time and created products that were inspired by their own lifestyles. Mr. Goldschmied went from the past to the future where technical innovation will bring jeans to a new level of comfort.
Mariette Hoitink, chairwoman of Amsterdam based House of Denim continued with the jeans case. She showed the delegates how city, big brands, local entrepreneurs and foreign investors work together to create a denim hub in Amsterdam. But it was clear that this example, combining denim specific schooling, research and networking can be replicated in other places as well.
Fernando Pimentel, the director of the Brazilian apparel association Abit was stressing the importance of intra Latin American trade. Investments in infrastructure and the quick signing of free trade agreements are needed to increase the economic linkages in Latin America.
And finally, Ed Gribbin president of Alvanon plead for a radical change in the industry which is facing below 40% full price sell through on the retail end. Investments in 3D digital sampling, PLM are necessary as is a shift in focus to a more engineering oriented design of clothing, focusing not only on how it looks, but also on how it works.
Local and regional networks with international connections, customer engagement through all channels and technical innovation and design were the optimistic buzzwords pointing at a bright future for the fashion industry.