The Business Of Fashion With Francine Laqua

Photographer: Jason 063 1642

Photographer: Jason 063 1642

LCM presented a unique opportunity, the chance to ask some questions of someone who is knowledgeable in both the fashion and business worlds. Step forward Francine Laqua, Anchor & Editor-At-Large Bloomberg TV. I caught up with Francine after her acclaimed talk with Natalie Massenet during LCM. I’d like to thank Francine personally for such considered and thoughtful answers, and taking the time to answer the questions below.

  1. London Collections Men (LCM) has cemented its place in the fashion calendar. Does this represent further proof of the engagement of men into the world of fashion?

Yes, I believe more and more men will engage in fashion. It will not necessarily be high-fashion or haute-couture, but as the economy shifts towards a digital economy, there will be more creative tech jobs and men will have greater flexibility with what they wear. For example, think of Shoreditch in London, the meat-packing district in New York…

When I spoke with Natalie Massenet* – the founder of Net-a-Porter who also launched – she said that similarly to women, internet shopping is also an ideal choice for men and will encourage them to spend more. Massenet says: “Men’s access to trend information is increasing thanks to digital. Shopping online is actually a dream way of shopping for men because it’s systematic, it is organised, it is pain-free… Men particularly like to get in, get out, buy multiples of the same thing, look at what they already own and buy more of those and have them arrive fuss free”.

*’Leaders with Lacqua: Natalie Massenet’ airs 7pm Wednesday 1 July on Bloomberg Television

  1. The recession and global economic downturn was a difficult time for the industry. Many emerging labels and designers had to shut their doors. Do you think that the economic climate is changing, and how will that affect the industry?

The recession has been tough on many retailers, but a lot of them are more disciplined than they were four years ago. There is less oversupply, costs have come down and although margins still have not recovered to pre-crisis levels, most retailers are leaner and better-equipped to deal with ups-and-downs.

Those that have not survived were simply not disciplined enough, but hopefully with lending and a clear strategy they can start anew, better-informed and stronger.

  1. Do you think start-ups and small fashion businesses get enough support from governments, or should governments do more in terms of tax breaks and support services?

The UK government currently has 595 schemes to support businesses. From tax incentives to apprenticeships to start-up loans, the UK offers more support and innovation than other European countries. But more could be done to inform people about these. Often, entrepreneurs do not know this support exists! It is also up to entrepreneurs – especially if they’re creative – to make sure they understand and work their numbers before asking for mentoring or government support.

I believe some form of business course should be mandatory at university for all walks of life. The London College of Fashion has just launched a new course with this principle in mind, focusing on fashion and business.

  1. There seems to be a conflict between male interest in fashion and male culture. What’s the one thing you think most affects this balance?

I am not sure there is much conflict between fashion and male culture. Are football shirts not ‘male fashion’ for some? People say ‘fashion’ and the mind conjures up images of lace shirts for men with diamante collars. But it is not so. Mark Zuckerberg is a fashion icon in his world. He is systematic and consistent. His aesthetics are hoodies and jeans.

Belstaff is also a man’s brand (you know, for the kind of man who sits on a motorbike unshaven). But I say get over it guys, women want you to look and feel good and so do men: just wear things that suit you and stop worrying about whether you are looking traditionally-manly enough.

  1. We are all glad to see more recognition for men’s designers, but are there enough women in the boardrooms and how do we get more equality in the business side of fashion?

Compared to other industries, I would say women are very well-represented in the fashion industry: Coco Chanel, Donna Karen, Vivienne Westwood, Sarah Burton… These women are all forces to be reckoned with. Still, there are not enough women in boardrooms. Maybe we do need quotas, although at the moment I do not fully believe that quotas are the right solution. But we certainly need more transparency, especially in salaries.

Large companies should be forced to publish figures detailing how much their women earn compared to their men. That would shame bosses into making pay more equal, it would force women to speak up and fight for equal pay, and if women earned more it would make more economic sense for women to continue working once they have kids. All of this would lead to more women in the boardroom.

*’Leaders with Lacqua: Natalie Massenet’ airs 7pm Wednesday 1 July on Bloomberg Television

About Francine Laqua:

Francine Lacqua is an award-winning, London-based anchor and editor-at-large for Bloomberg Television. She currently hosts three shows: the weekday program “On the Move with Francine Lacqua” where she reports from major events around the world and interviews key global political, economic and business leaders; “The Pulse with Guy Johnson and Francine Lacqua” covering top international business, economic and market-moving stories from Bloomberg Television’s London studio; and “Eye to Eye” a special series where she sits down with top CEOs, entrepreneurs and public figures inside the world’s most iconic Ferris wheel, the London Eye.

Francine is also a regular ‘business of fashion’ commentator: presenting from men’s and women’s Fashion Weeks; recently chairing a Fashion Means Business panel event attended by founder and director Anya Hindmarch MBE, Amazon Fashion EU VP Sergio Bucher and up-and-coming menswear designers / London College of Fashion (LCF) alumni; and interviewing founders and CEOs at the likes of Burberry, Prada, Paul Smith, Bulgari and Google (re the company turning to the fashion industry for better design). Francine is trilingual, fluent in English, French and Italian.

About Ross Pollard

Since starting writing on my 31st birthday in 2011 I have held a number of positions at magazines and websites as well as regularly producing articles for numerous publications alongside contributing to TV & radio shows as a freelance fashion journalist including Hoxton Radio & Fashion One TV. Alongside writing, I have worked in other industries helping to design & grow digital platforms, develop businesses and support operations practices. This experience has proved invaluable in building an understanding of how businesses work, and the landscape in which retail, B2B commerce and other commercial operations develop. Knowledge of commercial interests has helped shape my fashion industry insights beyond critiquing of garments

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