I’ve made the the design of FUN financial education an obsession over the years and though my friends think I’ve gone over the top more than a few times, I’m especially excited about the Fashion and Finance III: Voice and Values coming up on Oct. 9-11 in New York. It’s designed to be a pleasurable way to get started on a journey of financial discovery and independence. Putting it together has been fun in a way that has, frankly, surprised me. I am not a fashion maven. I like black for almost everything. But the first time I saw The Devil Wears Prada I finally gained respect for the business of fashion.
The scene that made the difference was the one in which Andy Sachs (the new assistant) smirks at the hubbub surrounding the choice of a belt. The editor (Meryl Streep at her best) responds to Andy:
Oh … ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh, I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.
That scene seriously made me a little less ‘holier than thou’ when it comes to fashion. So, we’re using the industry as a vehicle to teach something about investing, business, and yes, even careers and personal finance. The mother/daughter; aunt/niece; god mother/goddaughter pairs who come will leave with a new understanding of finance–and should have some fun in the process.
The Hotel Hudson Hosts Fashion and Finance
We chose the hotel a while ago. The Hudson Hotel is near Central Park, it’s sleek, cool, fun, and designed for people who like design. We’ll use it as our base in between meetings with designers, buyers, journalists, investors, and fashion entrepreneurs. The program has shaped up to be a very special behind the scenes look at the business of fashion. This is in part because we have a couple of amazing women who have helped pull the program together–Tamara Nikuradse (a former Revlon exec) and Yumi Kawana (principal in her own investment firm) are both HBS grads who are well connected in business and fashion and will lead the program in NY.
And, though it took some doing (she’s in the middle of preparing for Fashion Week now), we talked Ranjana Khan into hosting a tea at her fashion studio. Ranjana was an invisible (well not really, she’s always been a light on the fashion scene) but essential part of the industry for years. She supplied Oscar de la Renta, Gaultier, Prada, Lauren, etc. etc. with the most exotic and beautiful fabrics and accessories for their couture designs. Much of her work has shown up in Vogue, Elle, and on fashion runways all over the world. And about a year ago, she decided to go visible and start her own exquisite accessories line. Ranjana is going to share the story of her entrepreneurial journey–as well as some juicy tales about her adventures along the way.
Ranjana’s studio is simply AWESOME (and I mean that in the real sense of the word). She’ll talk about how a new line comes together, what it takes to create, manufacture, market and build a brand–and how one stays fresh in the fickle world of fashion. If you’re in NYC you can get a sneak peak of Ranjana and her designs on Wednesday at Bergdorf Goodman’s. She’s making a personal appearance from 6:30 to 9:00 PM as part of Fashion’s Night Out. If you plan to come to the Fashion and Finance Weekend, introduce yourself and let her know!
Well, stay tuned, I’ll share more details over the next few weeks!. If you’re interested in joining us for the Fashion and Finance Weekend, call the office (805-965-0475) or email Jen at IMI. It will be a small group–the people and places we are visiting won’t take large numbers.