Photograph: Jean Goldsmith for the Observer
The article first appeared on The Guardian.
Imran Amed’s website, the Business of Fashion, is the oracle of the style world. As its top 500 power list is published, we ask how he’s got designers and editors hanging on his every word
Ping! Six days a week, just before 6am BST, nearly half a million people receive an email from Imran Amed. Among these recipients are the most influential designers, CEOs and mavens in the fashion industry. They are based in around 190 countries around the world and, tellingly, almost two-thirds are under 34 years old – the cherished, all-important millennials.
The message – sent under the banner of Amed’s company the Business of Fashion, or BoF – contains a series of links, simply presented. Some stories are generated by BoF staff, the rest are aggregated from external media companies, from Vogue and the New York Times to the Chinese dailies. Sometimes there will be a global exclusive: Kate Moss chose to launch her new modelling agency on the BoF website; the exits of designers Jenna Lyons and Phoebe Philo from J Crew and Céline respectively were revealed first on the site. Alternatively, the email might direct the reader to one of their long reads: a three-part investigation into the merger of Yoox and Net-a-Porter, for example, or a report into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, which uncovered depression, drug abuse and suicide at the prestigious fashion school.
Amed, the effusive, 43-year-old British-Canadian founder and CEO of the media and technology company, is often told that BoF’s daily email is “an addiction”. The accessories designer Anya Hindmarch said in Vogue: “It’s the first thing I read every day in bed before I even see my children, I’m ashamed to admit.”
But as much as people come to BoF for a digest of what’s happened, they also now look to it for insight on what’s going to happen. Amed started the website in early 2007 as a blog that he would write in his spare time at night in his flat in Notting Hill. Until 2013, he was the sole contributor to BoF. The rapid growth of the company and interest in its content – it now has 75 employees spread between London, New York and Shanghai – has coincided with a deeply precarious period for the fashion industry.
“It’s been a very challenging 12 months,” sighs Amed. “A very challenging three years. A very challenging decade. Fashion is no different from any other industry in that respect. A lot of the forces that are shaping the world we live in, whether that be technological disruption and the resulting changes in consumer behaviour, the globalisation of the economy, particularly the rise of China as a huge force in consumption, geopolitical forces, the election of Donald Trump and the resulting trade wars, the onset of Brexit here in the UK. Turmoil in major markets like Brazil and Turkey, and social currents, like the #MeToo movement. All of these things are shaping the world we live in and they are also shaping the fashion industry.
“And I think our role has been really from the beginning to help the industry and the people who work in it to navigate these changes,” he goes on.
Read more on The Guardian.