Wednesday night was the inaugural Style Salons event at the Shangri-La hotel, Vancouver. After my event last year with Imran Amed from Business of Fashion, I wanted to host more fashion events that gave some of Vancouver’s fashion industry leaders an opportunity to meet and discuss. The idea behind Style Salons is “Intelligent Fashion Conversation,” which was most definitely the theme of the evening.
The evening featured a panel discussion whose topic was Vancouver’s Fashion Industry: an incubator, a growth sector, or simply somewhere to set up shop? Antonia Iamartino from Lululemon, Dace Moore from DACE, Ryan Wilms from Inventory magazine, and Stephen Bailey from Fluevog discussed the benefits and downsides to running a fashion business in Vancouver. Here are a few of my favourite quotes.
Stephen Bailey made some interesting points about the challenges of being a Vancouver-based business: “The problem in Vancouver with several industries, including fashion, is that we are at the end of the world, with the mountains and the ocean, nothing up north and the border on the south. This is challenging.” Dace Moore also felt being based in Vancouver had its challenges initially, but things have changed. She explained that “the first year we did sales someone told me not to tell people we are from Vancouver (we didn’t take that advice) but it took a long time to establish ourselves. Now, we will go to the shows in the US and say DACE is made in Vancouver and people seem to appreciate it more, but it has taken a long time.”
Antonia Iamartino, Stephen, and Dace all agreed that the Vancouver consumer was very important in their business, while Ryan Wilms felt differently. “To be honest, the Vancouver consumer for us is probably our least priority. It’s a consumer that is going to take time, and most people aren’t familiar with what we are selling in our publication and stores. In fact, people are surprised to find out we are from Vancouver. Our key markets are London, US, the east coast, Scandinavia, and Japan.”
One point that everyone agreed on was that it is highly confusing for Vancouver to have several fashion weeks, which does nothing to improve the international profile of the Vancouver fashion industry. All the speakers felt that Vancouver fashion businesses needed to have a united front, and that some sort of organization, perhaps funded by government or corporate, should be put into place to assist and support the local fashion industry.
Thank you again to the Shangri-La hotel Vancouver, Jill Killeen, the fantastic panel speakers, and all the guests that made this event a great success. And thank you to Popchips for the yummy snacks!
I’ll have a video clip to follow shortly! Photos by the fabulous Rebecca Rawlinson.