#TechTalk: Three Fashion Insiders Chat With Bazaar About The Impact Of Technology On The Industry

BY Maddison Glendinning / Jan 23 2017 / 16:06 PM

Rosemin Manji, Clair Seffeen and Sarah Owen take five to chat following Samsung’s latest EPIC seminar

#TechTalk: Three Fashion Insiders Chat With Bazaar About The Impact Of Technology On The Industry
Instagram/RoseminManji
#TechTalk: Three Fashion Insiders Chat With Bazaar About The Impact Of Technology On The Industry
Samsung

In August of last year, Bazaar announced that Fashion Forward would be partnering with Samsung on the launch of a new regional talent development program called EPIC. In the five months since its launch, EPIC, which is endorsed by the DDFC and supported by d3, has brought the worlds of fashion and technology closer than ever before.

Through the initiative, FFWD and Samsung are aiming to empower regional designers with the tools they need to succeed. One example is a series of workshops hosted across the year on various topics to allow rising design talent to gain insight from industry leaders and heavyweights on topics relevant to their skill set. 

One such seminar took place late last year in d3 and aimed at teaching designers - both new and established within the region - about the best way to optimise sales strategies. An esteemed panel – Bazaar contributor and managing director of RR&Co, Rosemin Manji, senior buyer for Harvey Nichols Dubai and Bloomingdale’s - Dubai, Clair Seffeen, senior editor of digital media & marketing at WGSN Sarah Owen and co-founder of Zbooni, Ramy Assaf - were on hand to answer their questions and share valuable information on the changing retail landscape and the ways in which brands must adapt across the afternoon session.

Bazaar caught up with three of the panelists following the session to chat about their jobs, how technology has impacted their careers and the influence of technology on the fashion industry globally. 

Rosemin Manji, Bazaar contributor and managing director of RR&Co

Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: Tell us a little about your job…

Rosemin Manji: Over the years, my career has evolved from PR director for top luxury brands, to magazine contributor, TV presenter and consultant. I like that everything that I have done and continue to do has all been in the luxury space. I’ve worked closely with the world’s best designers on both the client and media sides so I have good understanding of both spheres.

HBA: How does technology fit into your everyday life? And your career? 

RM: My phone is an extension of my hand whether it’s using the calendar to organise meetings to taking photos. My phone manages my day!

HBA: What is your number one, can't-live-without technology product? 

RM: My Samsung Galaxy S7. It’s amazing and so user-friendly. I admit I am not overly tech-savvy so I need something which has a long battery life and easy to use.

Photo to embed: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNYfqnXjz7I/?taken-by=roseminsworld

HBA: In your eyes, what influence has technology had on fashion in recent years?

RM: It’s impacted fashion in so many ways. For example, a designer and his team can save so much time with video conference calls, rather than flying weekly to the factories. Digital printing was made super relevant with past collections of Peter Pilotto and Mary Katrantzou and finally, the ability to “buy now.”

HBA: Speaking of the see now, buy now movement, you touched on this during the seminar also – why do you think this is so important for consumers, as well as designers?

RM: It’s just the way consumerism has changed. With people posting instantly at shows (followed by the millions of reposts) the sub-conscious eye gets bored and by the time that clothing hits the stores six months later, the customer is bored. Remember when Tom Ford didn’t allow cameras in his first show? This was the reason. Fast forward a few years and now he has also joined Burberry in the buy now system.

QUICK QUESTIONS

Words or emojis? Words.
Snapchat or Instagram Stories? Instagram/instastories…. I like that I am using one app and its lasts longer. 
If you were an emoji, what would you be? The monkey with the hands on the face.

Sarah Owen, senior editor of digital media & marketing at WGSN

Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: Tell us a little bit about your job…

Sarah Owen: Last year I transitioned from solely tracking global millennial and Gen Z trends (think covering Coachella, to scouring Instagram for new, young tastemakers) to leading our digital media and marketing vertical to report on the latest and greatest innovations across everything from key advertising trends to social media consumption patterns.
While we're known in the industry for our fashion vertical and producing forecasts and analysis based on design trends, we just recently launched WGSN's Insight platform. Here the Insights team reports on consumer insights, retail strategy, marketing and innovation, with content that creates a seamless narrative so clients and readers can not only understand the consumer but also market and sell to them.

HBA: How does technology fit into your everyday life? And your career?

SO: It’s not an overstatement to say that I could not do my job without technology. Given my focus on digital media, technology is interwoven into every aspect of my research. Whether that’s discovering an interaction AR out-of-home advertisement or using apps like Snapchat and Instagram to connect with powerful influencers and brand advocates.


HBA: In your eyes, what influence has technology had on fashion in recent years? 

SO: Technology has undoubtedly changed the consumption landscape in a multitude of ways. From elevating and evolving the younger Gen Z consumer to be a more stylistic audience to fueling constant trends that fill out social feeds every day. Because we’re so inundated with newness all the time, it feels like things are speeding up. We’re consuming more information than ever before so fashion trends seem to have a shorter lifecycle. This is way some designers are leaning towards the see-now, buy-now revolution.

HBA: You spoke about story-doing, the idea of user-generated content on the next level. Which brands have you seen do this successfully? Do you see this becoming a more regular way for designers to connect with their audience?

SO:
I think direct-to-consumer brands like Glossier and Everlane do a great job of this. It’s all about opening up that community so consumers feel like a part of your brand story. Storytelling just doesn’t resonate with younger audiences, they want to share in it too.
And yeah, definitely. The only way forward is from a more collaborative standpoint. Retailers and designers have to let go a little bit and welcome their consumers onboard their brand story.

QUICK QUESTIONS:

Words or emojis? As a journalist and a social media junkie, I have to say both. 
Snapchat or Instagram Stories? Instagram Stories.
If you were an emoji, what would you be? The unicorn!

Clair Seffeen, senior womenswear buyer for Harvey Nichols Dubai and Bloomingdale's - Dubai

Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: Tell us a little bit about your job…

Clair Seffeen: As Senior Buyer for Bloomingdale's - Dubai and Kuwait and Harvey Nichols Dubai, I am always on the go. Each season I travel to New York, Paris and Milan to buy and source new and exciting brands to bring back to the region. When I’m back in Dubai, a lot of my time is spent with the teams in the stores getting their feedback and learning more about our customers' needs. 

HBA: How does technology fit into your everyday life? And your career?

CS: One of my best experiences using technology is when I got married in 2014, I was able to livestream my ceremony in Cairo so friends who couldn’t make it didn’t miss out! Since I moved from Australia to Dubai over 10 years ago, technology has allowed me to keep in contact with family and friends, I can’t imagine life without video calls now. Social networks are amazing platforms also, not only to stay informed but for me, they've become a constant source of inspiration and my go-to tool to keep me updated on what's happening in the fashion world. 

HBA: In your eyes, what influence has technology had on fashion in recent years? 

CS: Technology has made fashion more accessible. Today you can search your favourite designer, brand or retailer in a matter of minutes and even watch a fashion show in real time. Online shopping is another example of the influence technology has which is helping to deliver fashion faster than ever before. A regional example is Ounass.com, launched by Al Tayer in December, which delivers products within two hours in Dubai. The industry has become more competitive and brands need to always be reinventing themselves and reacting to customers changing needs.

HBA: What social media platforms do you use on a regular basis for work? And how do they play into the work you do? 

CS: Instagram is my main social media tool to see what’s happening, find new brands and what people are wearing. It’s a great way to monitor in real time the response to the brand and understand its potential by watching the comments and likes they receive.

HBA: The idea of see now, buy now was discussed during the talk - as a buyer, what are your thoughts on the movement? Do you think that the increased use of technology within our lives has left designers with no choice but to adopt the model?

CS: I think that this movement may take some time before the industry fully adapts to it. More established brands have the capabilities to successfully implement the model, however smaller brands should continue to focus on their product and work to the international fashion calendar. 

QUICK QUESTIONS:

Words or emojis? Emojis.
Snapchat or Instagram Stories? Snapchat.
If you were an emoji, what would you be? An aeroplane as I'm always on the go!