Our peaceful and almost 'too quiet' Oman is an unusual destination for such a high-profile fashion luxury event such as the Condé Nast Internation Luxury Conference, however, Suzy Menkes - international Vogue editor - thought otherwise. With 'Mindful luxury' as its central theme, Suzy brought the third Condé Nast Internation Luxury Conference to the Omani capital highlighting the country's strategic geographical location in relation to silk routes and thus its position in luxury trade even today.

I had the honor of attending the conference, and listening to very big key players within the luxury fashion industry, from the legendary Elie Saab to players who shape today's fashion like Vetements. 




In addition to meeting many idols of mine from today's fashion scene, I have gained plenty of learning outcomes that I can definitely implement throughout my career down the long road ahead in building a lifestyle brand.

I will be sharing my personal highlighted experiences and memorable quotes from the conference.


"Don't look back, don't look around, just move forward"

Guram Gvasalia (CEO Vetements)

One of my favorite speakers from the conference was Vetements's chief executive officer Guram Gvasalia. He is the business mastermind of the very popular Paris-based brand, which he launched together with his older brother back in 2014. In less than three years the brothers have created -noticeable silhouettes and street--wear attire that gained positive attention in today's fashion scene.

Guram stressed the importance of enjoying the creative process of running a fashion business, stating that "if you want to make money, make butter".


Sybilla Editorial

Sybilla

One of Spain's biggest names in the fashion design business is Sybilla, who decided to return to the fashion business after a long break back in 2015. What caught my attention during the designer's conversation with Suzy Menkes is her editorial images. The brand created imagery with long lasting impression, especially for a retrophilliac like myself. Her editorials seemed modern yet classic, almost like a painting. 


Jimmy Choo talks trends, strategy and promotion

Pierre Denis (CEO Jimmy Choo)

Pierre Denis encouraged a certain method of promoting a brand: as a lifestyle and not products. With the help of social media, one can promote a brand as a lifestyle instead of individual products or services. This makes consumers more probable to purchase and continue purchasing in the future. Jimmy Choo's CEO also talked about the recent trends and how they influence the brand's strategy, focusing on the idea of casualization and increase in mens fashion sales. Furthermore, promoting a brand as a lifestyle brand enables diversification, according to Mr. Denis.


Importance of Pacing with Paul Andrew

Paul Andrew (Design Director for Salvatore Ferragamo; Founder of Paul Andrew)

The footwear and accessories designer stressed the importance of slow pacing, specifically for young brands. "You cannot do it all at once", the designer stated during his speaking session. He also mentioned the possibility of him getting involved in clothing in the future.


"Millennial mindset and NOT age group"

Yasmin Sewell (Fashion Director, Style.com) and Jose Neves (Founder and CEO, Farfetch)

The two were on stage together when they revealed that they like to see the customer as somebody with a Millennial mindset rather than belonging to an age group, especially with today's digital era.


"Make people want to go to your store, and not buy online"

Edgardo Osorio (Founder and Creative Director, Aquazzura)

Me with Edgardo Osorio
Meeting Edgardo Osorio was defintly a highlight of the conference, and listening to him talk about customer experience, launching his brand at the age of 25, and the design aesthetic of his stores was truly inspiring. I have always loved the designer and his work!

His extraordinary stores which have unique interior design, offering a very rewarding customer experience makes hi distinguishable in an industry which is shifting towards online shopping, and less human contact. With mindful luxury in mind, the designer revealed that brands should keep their customers visiting the stores by offering something unique that the online environment cannot give.


Instagram's take on things 

Morin Oluwole (head of luxury, Facebook/Instagram)

Morin Oluwole spoke very frankly about the influence of Instagram on brand awareness and how it affects the purchasing power of the public. Despite the fact that Instagram played a huge role within the luxury fashion industry in recent events, the head of luxury believes that brands must find the right balance between visuals and details which are preferred in print. Visuals offering an insight in culture and lifestyle are ideally shared on Instagram, as opposed to details about products and quality which are best for more traditional media or a website.





In addition to all the learning outcomes listed above, I found Lapo Elkann's advice on the importance of simplicity very valuable and realistic, as he encouraged simplicity in everything, as well as relationships and partnerships. Furthermore, SeeMee's founder and CEO Caterina Occhio (a brand that produces heart-shaped jewelry with disadvantaged women in Tunis, providing them a safe working environment) wants to focus on avoiding guilt shopping, and sees her brand not as a charity, but safe work opportunity for unfortunate women. The conference then ended with discussing jewelry and the future of it, revealing that women's purchasing power has increased significantly, when compared to previous times (such as from the 80's/90's era) where men usually gifted jewelry to the women in their lives. These days, women have no problem with gifting jewelry to themselves.




The next CNI luxury conference will be held in Portugal. I look forward to finding out who next year's speakers are and possibly learning more insights on the industry and its path.