ANNE KEATING, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT PUBLIC RELATIONS, SPECIAL EVENTS & CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY AT BLOOMINGDALES
In this role, which I have held since 1995, I oversee the public relations, special events, press and corporate philanthropy for Bloomingdale’s and act as the official spokesperson for the company. Essentially, I am the voice of Bloomingdale’s in these areas of the brand.
What made you get into Public Relations in the first place?
I started my career at Tiffany & Co. and held various roles from sales to corporate gifts to the bridal registry. I was then recruited by Bloomingdale’s to run their registry department. After leaving for a brief time to be VP of Services and PR at FAO Schwarz, I rejoined Bloomingdale’s in my current position.
What made you get into Public Relations in the first place?
I have always enjoyed working with people and my career path led me to interface with the public constantly. Working in PR was a natural progression.
What makes Bloomingdale’s like no other department store?
Bloomingdale’s is truly like no other store in the world because of its unique mix of merchandise, strong community involvement and the overall energy the store environment provides.
Can you tell me more about your role at Child Mind Institute and how Bloomingdale’s works with CMI?
Bloomingdale’s has been a corporate supporter of the Child Mind Institute since it was established. Our company has always felt that it is important to support causes that affect our customers and employees. My personal involvement stems from my belief that children’s mental health is important to the future of the world.
How do you think social media helps communicating a brand message today compared to 15 years ago?
Social media is a very important tool to communicate a brand’s message. It must be carefully monitored and constantly updated to make sure it is perfectly aligned with the brand’s core values and strategic focus.
Known for supporting brands and talent globally, what is the most exciting innovative brand you have come across?
Two years ago, Sarah Jessica Parker launched her shoe line, SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker at Bloomingdale’s. Witnessing how much passion such an iconic star had for her business was amazing. She became the ultimate ambassador of her brand, traveling across the country to the shoe floors of our stores to sell her shoes to our customers. She made buying shoes an exciting and engaging experience for the Bloomingdale’s shopper.
Apart from Child Mind Institute, what other charities are close to your heart?
I am a board member of HELP USA which is a national housing and homeless services organization dedicated to providing safe and stable housing to those in need. I am also a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Dream Team whose mission is to fulfill the dreams of adult cancer patients. Additionally, I serve on the board of the American Associates of the Old Vic which supports the work of this extraordinary institution.
Name three new brands we should look out for in Bloomingdale’s.
There are so many! Mon Purse and Spiritual Gangster are two of my favorites. University of Tomorrow, Dreamers of Today, a new line created by Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony, will be an exciting launch available exclusively at Bloomingdale’s in October.
Sadly, WWD reported that you are leaving your full-time role at Bloomingdale’s after an outstanding 29 years’ service, what’s next for you?
As I end my full time career at Bloomingdale’s, I will continue to work with our CEO, Tony Spring, as a consultant on philanthropy and other projects. I will also consult on a few select projects that have come my way. But first, I’ll take a much needed vacation!
With over 29 years of your career spent at Bloomingdale’s, what has been your favorite moment?
There have been so many amazing moments that it’s hard to pick just one! One of my many favorites is when we open five stores in California in 1995. We rolled out the openings with a large star studded event that definitely left a mark in Bloomingdale’s history. The red carpet was amazing.
Being an avid social media fan, what blogs do you regularly follow?
Some of my favorite accounts to follow are Song of Style, The Flair Index, Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Front Row Edit.
KENYA HUNT, FASHION FEATURES DIRECTOR AT ELLE UK
You’re the Fashion Features Director at one of the most widely-read women’s magazines in the UK. What kind of responsibilities does that job entail?
My job is quite wide-ranging in terms of scope of responsibility, which is why I love it so much. On any given day, I could be writing, editing, commissioning, interviewing fascinating people, travelling to cover a runway show, visiting showrooms, meeting designers, meeting PRs, representing ELLE UK at an event or on a programme or participating in an interesting panel. But the core of my role is leading all of the written fashion content you see in the magazine — that means the fashion features you see in the features well, the fashion front of book section etc.
How did you start? What was your break?
My internships gave me a foot in the door. I started in magazines as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, but would go up to New York during Christmas and summer breaks to do internships which is how I learned about the industry and built relationships. An editor I interned for at Vibe magazine recommended me for my very first magazine job at a monthly called Jane, where I worked with some amazing women who are now all doing brilliant things. My time at Jane was a formative experience for me because the title was so groundbreaking as a women’s magazine; it really paved the way for titles like Jezebel and The Cut, etc. It also really shaped the way I approach writing and editing for women’s magazines in general. The relationships I formed at Jane also led to the jobs that followed. Meanwhile, the editor I interned for at the Village Voice gave me some of my first freelance writing assignments. So I can’t recommend internships and work experience enough.
What is the most exciting thing about your job, and what is the most difficult?
One of the most exciting aspects of my job is the climate of change in which we’re all working. I find it thrilling because it forces us to think outside the box and allows for new voices to come into the fold. So I love working at a magazine like ELLE during a time like this because it has given us the opportunity to try things that the magazine might not necessarily have done, say, five or ten years ago.
In terms of the most difficult aspect, I’d say it’s keeping up with all the change (but again, that challenge keeps the job exciting.) The designer comings and goings at the big houses alone keep me on my toes!
In a publication aspect, how do you think Social Media and the digital world has helped shape journalism?
Among many things, it allows for greater immediacy and access for the reader, which allows for new possibilities in storytelling for us. At ELLE we are always adapting so that we meet the demands of our audience. It’’s all about creating great content across all platforms, so we can connect with our readers wherever they are. ELLEUK.com reaches over 2.5m monthly unique users and we have impressive engagement across our social platforms.
How do you typically find new brands to feature?
A number of ways: word-of-mouth, the showroom and show circuit, and Instagram, among others. I’m basically always on the lookout for new and interesting fashion talent worth telling our readers about.
Any trends you think that readers should be looking out for this season?
We’re currently fascinated by the return of tailoring and workwear and how designers have reimagined it, as well as the rise of red as a colour of the season.
Our trend report in the current issue (August) and on our site wraps up the biggest new season trends for us at ELLE.
BARBARA HORSPOOL, CLOTHING DIRECTOR AT THE WHITE COMPANY
I grew up in a small village in North Wales and always wanted to be an artist. Studied fashion at Kingston while enjoying London as a New Romantic & left university to start my own designer label ‘Blanche’ with a fellow designer. Sold collection to Joseph, Whistles, Harvey Nichols & Bergdorf amongst many. After six years decided to learn ‘How to make money from fashion’ & started as a designer with Marks & Spencer and later with Sir Terence Conran at Conran Design Studio. Since then have enjoyed working in Creative Director roles Internationally with many brands such as Esprit, New Look & Jigsaw.
Now Clothing Director at The White Company, how is that compared to previous roles?
This was a huge move for me as my role is Clothing Director, now responsible for the Buying, Design & Technical teams and the design and production of all TWC Clothing collections including Daywear, Lounge, Nightwear & childrenswear. As much as my experience is design & development, I cannot separate the creative from the commercial and actually enjoy the stressful accountability of whether my ideas sell… I have understood what our customer really wants. Frightening as it is to be responsible for a huge turn-over clothing business, I have such a great team who are clever at all the things I’m not an expert at we truly inspire each other and every day brings challenges and triumphs in equal measure.
Who is The White Company customer?
She is a very discerning woman who values quality and timeless style above fickle fashion trends. She looks for simple solutions for her busy life and wants to look modern and relevant yet always effortless and comfortable. Her wardrobe has to be versatile and our brand has perfect simplicity at its heart.
How do you and the team strategize for the season ahead?
I wish I could tell you we go off-site to some peaceful inspirational haven, but business life isn’t like that; we rush from one season to another. We work with a process we call The White Print that sets the Lifestyle mood for the season ahead. There is always large element of trend research but most of how we move our collections forward comes from where we believe our customer’s life is moving.
How do you think the consumer has coped with the change from 2016?
She is shopping with far more consideration. You have to give her a really good reason to part with her money…beauty, quality, luxury, excitement…need and want are no longer enough…it is all about must-have and she’s bright, our customers are very vocal if she doesn’t see the value she’ll tell you.
A New York store, how exciting! Did you change / adapt the collection to the American market?
Not at all… we see the same best sellers across the market (having had a US website for three years we had some great learnings).
Where do you find your inspiration?
Galleries, Exhibitions, Catwalks (less these days), Blogs, Instagram, Nettflix, The girls& boys who work for me, Front Row Edit (Gotcha!) My children
How do you think the relevancy of social media helps support consumers on their journey to purchase?
Because we are hungry for more of everything…more knowledge, more choice, more news, more from life, more friends….and social media opens doors 24/7.
Everything you need support from or inspiration for is there…your every question answered, your insecurities calmed. This leads to better informed customers, feeling reassured that they will not get their purchase wrong. As time is the most valuable luxury we have, it even gives you that back…just remember to use the time you gain for peace and quiet for yourself to un-plug and disconnect.
What social media channels do you enjoy the most?
I’m a visual and a verbal dreamer so I love Instagram and wish I was better at Twitter. Sadly my son says I’m not funny enough for twitter!
Any wise words to share for those who are thinking of joining the industry?
It’s the best career ever so never take it for granted… you have to give everything and more to get on but it is so worth it. Be humble and work really hard… there are no easy routes in; it’s a complex industry and you need to learn the skills. Listen, learn and work your cashmere socks off…energy, passion and commitment are not enough… you need to acquire the knowledge so respect those you can teach you.
What is next for you?
Fingers crossed, to get my first novel published… I am in love with words and stories #FaberAcademy
ADAM BROWN, FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF ORLEBAR BROWN
In February 2005, I was invited to a friend’s 40th birthday in Rajasthan. The mixed group of friends consisted of about 30 men and women. All different, but all like-minded in that they were design orientated and had their own personal styles.
Around the pool at the hotel it all seemed a little different. The women looked great but the men wore a mix of briefs, board or shapeless boxer-short styles. I remember having to change for lunch and this was the defining moment that the idea for Orlebar Brown became clear. I did not want a swim short but rather a short you can swim in.
What did you do before starting OB?
I got into the world of clothing almost by accident of circumstance rather than desire.
Previously I worked in the voluntary sector (charities) as a fundraiser within a variety of different areas such as children, prisons and HIV. I got down to the final two for a particular job and realised I did not actually want it. So went back to college and studied photograpy .
This led to working as a portrait photographer in London for about six years for a range of editorial, private and corporate clients. I wasn’t the best photographer and it was not really going anywhere so I was looking out for the next opportunity when I came across the idea for Orlebar Brown.
What was your mission?
OB’s founding principle was that our OB Classic shorts are a tailored approach to swim shorts. Based on the traditional pattern of a man’s pair of trousers it is about fit. A man of any shape—fat, thin, big bottom, small bottom etc.—looks better in a traditional suit that fits him properly. If it is too tight or too baggy, it is not flattering. If you follow a traditional tailored approach something fits you properly it will ultimately be more flattering.
What three words that describe OB?
Tailored, Vibrant, Brave. They’re our core brand values and we always aim to stay true to them in whatever we’re doing.
The words ‘Feel Summer’ are always in our hearts; they represent our brand promise and they inspire everything that we do. For us summer is a state of mind, a feeling as well as a season. Everything we do should ‘Feel Summer’ in spirit.
What makes OB unique?
We’re obsessed with quality and since day one we’ve put the customer at the forefront of our minds. Our OB Classics remain the original and best tailored swim shorts but it’s tough to stand out in such competitive market.
Based on the traditional pattern of a man’s pair of trousers our shorts have a timeless, functional appeal and offer the perfect canvas to play with colour and pattern.
From being stocked in Selfridges to having your own stores globally, how do you pick the OB locations?
Selfridges was a major breakthrough for us when it came, it really catalysed our growth at the time and opened up a huge window of opportunity.
This year we’re set to open in the prestigious Bal Habour centre which has been a dream for us since our inception. We’re always looking to make OB more accessible to more people but we take time to make sure the setting and environment are just right.
Who would you like to be wearing OB and why?
We try to be all inclusive; our shorts have four distinct lengths, we offer classic, tailored and relaxed fits plus a broad spectrum of colours to suit different tastes. Whoever you are and whatever you’re doing we create clothes to help you celebrate summer and express your own unique style.
Whilst not obsessed by fashion and what is happening on the catwalks, the OB man likes and enjoys clothes be it traditional styles and conservative colours or bright hue and bold prints. He is young at heart—whatever age he is and whilst essentially modern, he does have his own evolved sense of style that enables him to be confident in who he is through colour, fit, fabric and print.
Tell me about the stages through the OB way of making shorts? Where is the product made?
All our shorts are produced in Europe, primarily in Portugal. The very first OB Classics were made in North London—a factory we still work with to this day—but as we grew we had to be able to scale our production.
The process is meticulous and the result is just right. Individual panels are pre-overlocked and back darts are stitched carefully, Italian zips attached by hand and the secure snap and signature side fasteners are all individually applied. Each OB Classic short in made from 60 elements that combine for the perfect shape and fit.
Then to finish we have thorough testing and final inspections to ‘holiday-proof’ our shorts and make sure they can handle heat, salt and chlorine.
How important is social media for OB as a business?
Social media is an incredible tool and gives us the perfect outlet for us to express our creative vision and connect with people the world over.
#OBsAroundTheWorld has enabled us to create a global community of loyal customers who share their favourite summer photos. It’s an amazing form of communication but it also helps us understand what summer means to different people in different places.
Do you have any future brand collaborations planned?
Absolutely; we’re always exploring new opportunities and looking at new ways we can express ourselves. Watch this space.
What is next for OB?
We’ve had a fantastic summer celebrating our tenth anniversary as well as opening new stores in Cannes, Puerto Banús, London, Miami, Kuwait and Bicester (Oxford, UK) this year. We always have exciting projects in the pipeline that we can’t wait to share with everyone.
It would be easy to say starting sooner but in reality our journey over the past ten years has surpassed any and every expectation. Every decision, disappointment and setback led me up to that point so there are no regrets.
DARCY MILLER, AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR OF CELEBRATE EVERYTHING / EDITOR AT LARGE, MARTHA STEWART WEDDINGS.
My mom is very creative and growing up we were always creating together. I had a party favour business in grade school and continued in college, so I guess you could say it started there. After I graduated, I continued this business and took on a ton of different freelance jobs. I did everything from working on the windows at Bloomingdales, to working with event designer Robert Isbell, working for a chef…anything and everything!
I always wanted to do something creative and entrepreneurial, but I thought first I should get a full time job for the experience. At the time, I thought I would only do that for a year or two. After a lot of stalking, I landed a job as an editorial assistant at Martha Stewart Living, which was at that point a quarterly startup magazine. That was in 1992. As the company grew, so did I. When I started out, I did everything from deliver props, dye Easter eggs, answer phones, pull clothes for cover shoots—you name it, I did it.
Since then, I’ve had many different business cards, moving through assistant editor, associate editor, style editor, and then when we started Martha Stewart Weddings, I became the weddings editor, which was not exactly the dream title for a single girl! In seriousness, though, I love weddings, and growing with the magazine has been a great experience.
Fast forward through many, many weddings and helping many brides down the aisle, watching the magazine grow, I got married and had children of my own. I began to document the parties I threw for my daughters and started to expand then from just the weddings expert to the celebrations expert
Now, with Darcy Miller Designs and my book, Celebrate Everything!, which was published last October (I can’t believe it’s nearly been a year!), I spend my time doing both the celebrations and memory-keeping of Darcy Miller Designs, where I can incorporate my artwork and illustrations while still working with Martha Stewart Weddings as the editor-at-large.
You are also Editor-at-Large for Martha Stewart Weddings, what is your typical day like and how involved in the title are you still?
I’ve always felt very passionate about Martha Stewart Weddings, a brand which I helped build. As editor-at-large, I’m still a part of the incredible weddings industry, working with all of the talented people involved as well as the creative team at the magazine. I enjoy writing my column in the magazine, “From the Desk of Darcy,” and my online column, “Darcy’s Diary.” I also have a great time Facebook Lives with MSW, which are really fun where we go behind the scenes with people who work in the industry in all different ways, whether it’s in fashion, baking, event design—the list goes on. Many days, I’m out and about and keeping up with what’s going on in the wedding industry, which can mean anything from going to press previews to seeing what’s new—whether that’s a wedding location or finding a new bakery. If it’s bridal market time, I’m covering that and I still do get to get my hands in some of our real weddings, too.
Do you think influencers are transcending and setting trends now in the social media world today compared to print publications?
Obviously both have an impact on trends in today’s world. Influencers have a huge presence on social media and just by having hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers can play a part in setting trends or inspiring ideas. Print magazines, their editors and the social and digital platforms of the magazine’s brand itself also have a huge impact on trends today. It’s still a big deal about who’s on the cover of what magazine or what a print publication chooses to feature in a big issue!
Words of advice to break into the bridal and/or entertainment market?
As with any passion, it’s important to be persistent and do you research! It’s so much easier today, in a way, because of social media, to immerse yourself in the industry (or any industry) and see who’s doing what, what’s going on and discover people you might be interested in working with. It’s easier and quicker than ever to connect with people on all different levels and in all different kinds of ways. Just get your foot in the door however you can and prove yourself from there.
Of course, you also have to have the right attitude and a willingness to work hard and be flexible. The weddings and celebrations industry, as glamorous and fun as it may seem (and often really is!), is also filled with a lot of hard work. I’ve lit hundreds of candles by hand for an event…and then come back late that night after the event was over to blow each and every one out and pack them all back up. I’ve plucked many a thorn from an endless amount of roses for hours on end, but I stuck with it and persevered through. You have to be prepared to get your hands dirty!
Also, celebrations and weddings often take place at nights and on weekends (especially holiday weekends), so you need to be flexible and willing to work those odd and extra hours.
What has been your biggest fear and how did you overcome?
Hm. That’s a hard question to answer! I don’t necessarily think that there is one big overarching fear, but like anyone, I’ve always had obstacles along the way and little things to worry about that do add up. (Trust me, this is coming from someone who works a lot!)
You are the go to woman for all things celebrations, tell me more about your own design company, events etc?
I’ve always been an illustrator—from when I was a little kid doing the art for my birthday invitations all the way up to now, and so that’s always been a part of what I love to do. Personalizing everything that I possibly can, from throwing parties to documenting those celebrations along with every day life in scrapbooks are also all passions of mine. With Darcy Miller Designs, I’ve had a place to actually put all of those things I love together—illustrating, celebrating, memory-keeping and personalizing. I’ve gotten to partner with some really fun brands and personalities so far and am looking forward to what comes next.
What can trends can we expect for 2017 / 2018?
Your big day is much more about making it a personal experience than it is about doing the latest colour or decor trend. It’s about the things that you and your partner love and love to do, really putting your own stamp on things, and we’re seeing a lot of couples doing more of that lately, too. Whether that means “branding” the day and personalizing everything from the invites, to bridesmaids’ robes, to the aisle runners to the dance floor—no matter if brides are staying traditional or going out of the box, weddings are uber personal. There are so many options out there for every aspect of the planning- even the rental market today is filled with everything from of all kinds of mix and match china so that it feels less cookie cutter and more like it’s your personal collection from home to a vintage bar cart for drinks.
Destination weddings continue to be popular, but couples aren’t just hosting at beach resorts anymore. They are seeing the whole world as an option, whether that means a European city, California, Nashville, Charleston…the list goes on! Hand in hand with that, weddings are becoming less about a couple of jam-packed hours and more about a couple of days of celebrating.
Flowers continue to be a big part of the day, but brides are lately incorporating them in unexpected ways everywhere, whether it’s making a pathway of blooms so it looks like the flowers are growing from the ground up, or hanging them from the ceiling.
What do you think is key to creating the perfect wedding day?
As I always say, the key to making your wedding really special and memorable is to make it personal. Make your wedding day be one that really reflects you both as a couple with everything you love from the food and the music to all the little details. Most importantly, though, it’s having the people you love around you, celebrating your day right there with you. Staying organized helps make it less stressful. And of course make sure to enjoy the process. And most of all, make sure to be in the moment and enjoy the day as it’s goes by too fast!
CAROLINE RUSH CBE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE BRITISH FASHION COUNCIL
With a unique job role in our industry, how did you get into it?
I had been working in a strategic role with the BFC when I was approached to take on the role. I knew that there was an opportunity to re-position British fashion and wanted to be part of that.
What is a typical day for you at the British Fashion Council?
There isn’t one, we have so many different stakeholders that every day is different. What many people don’t realise is the amount of time spent working with designers and their businesses.
What makes British fashion unique?
Creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship
How do you think the industry has coped with the change of 2016?
Everyone is approaching change in a different way. Putting business focus and customers first is the common thread.
How do you think social media helps brands and designers in the world today?
It has become an essential part of directly talking to a consumer audience.
What is the best piece of advice you can leave to readers looking to one day work in the fashion industry?
Always strive to make a positive impact.
Any new brands on this season’s London Fashion Week schedule readers are to look out for?
Look to our NewGen designers for the most cutting edge. Ralph and Russo our leading British couture businesses is debuting their ready to wear collection. Look at our established brands such a Burberry and our new establishment businesses such as Erdem, Christopher Kane, Roksanda, Mary Katrantzou, JW Anderson, Simon Rocha and Peter Pilotto for those that will head the headlines the next day. Roland Mouret is also celebration his 20th anniversary, a great business dressing strong women for two decades!
What do you prefer, catwalk or presentations?
I enjoy both, it is all about the collections.
You and your team at the British Fashion Council are always coming up with innovative ways to support British designers. What’s next?
That would be telling!!