First Past The Post
Carolyn Asome is deputy fashion editor of The Times for Vogue
22 October 2015
In the November issue of Vogue, Carolyn Asome meets Imran Amed, founder of The Business of Fashion.
The white, bright space on the top floor of a building just north of Oxford Circus resembles the sort of office you might imagine in a creative-visualisation technique: spacious rooms filled with stylish, purposeful-looking men and women sitting around pristine work surfaces. I hazard a guess that a “no eating at your desk” policy is observed but I don’t get round to asking because Imran Amed is in full flight. The slightly built Canadian-born founder and editor-in-chief of The Business of Fashion (BoF), dressed in a Tomorrowland shirt and Robert Geller trousers, is taking me on a tour of the six-week-old surrounds of his fledgling empire.
Actually, it’s as much to survey the Dinesen-style floorboards as it is to introduce me to the 17 nationalities that make up his 25-strong team. “This,” says Amed, “is important, because this cultural hotchpotch reflects exactly the sort of approach that BoF takes: global, academic, an outsider’s perspective.”
But what is BoF? Company CEOs, designers, style journalists, investors and anyone with an interest in the fashion world will tell you that it is essential 6am reading. Viewers awake each morning to a daily digest (access to all content is free) of stories aggregated from publications around the world as well as its own articles. “It’s the first thing I read every day in bed before I even see my children, I’m ashamed to admit,” says Anya Hindmarch, while Tory Burch reads it before she gets to the papers.
“In a crowded media landscape, what other media brand gets to spend five minutes with their consumers every morning?” asks Amed proudly. Surely it explains the 500,000 unique visitors each month and a site that is increasingly scooping traditional fashion press. The recent star hires of fashion critic Tim Blanks and Andrew Barker, the Evening Standard’s former magazine editor, have also raised eyebrows at BoF’s intentions.
“I think people come to us for our opinion and evaluation: it’s news reporting but placing fashion in a wider context, such as the Grexit,” offers Amed. “We take in a broader geopolitical, technological context.” Others believe that he has cleverly exploited a huge gap in the market. Whereas WWD is the dominant name in fashion news but focuses on the American market, BoF takes a global perspective.
Last year Amed travelled to 25 countries and spent 150 days away from his Notting Hill home. Admittedly he says much of his enjoyment comes from all the travelling he does; it’s his way of unwinding – “I love nothing better than immersing myself in different street cultures; exploring all those neighbourhoods in Tokyo was quite amazing or visiting Morocco to see an Inditex factory” – but he recognises the importance of looking after himself. He tries to be in bed by 10pm, meditates when he wakes at 6am and makes time to exercise (yoga or the gym four times a week).
And it’s funny because meditation is very much a part of my culture: my grandfather used to get up and do it every day at 4am. It’s something I grew up with but had never really managed to do because my head was filled with so much noise. A whole series of events pushed me towards meditation and now it’s become such an integral part of the way I manage myself. It’s a tool for me; when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re pulled in every direction, it is wonderful to have this discipline.”
At first, his parents, an architect father and teacher mother, east Africans of Indian descent, were confused by his decision to leave McKinsey. “I wasn’t obsessed by fashion growing up in Calgary, I wasn’t reading magazines when I was six years old.” He’d observed from his father that architecture was a career that required left brain/right brain thinking. “You have to understand aesthetics and design but you also need to understand structure and organisation.” It’s a philosophy that is the core of everything BoF does.
Discover, Explore and Learn more by reading the complete story at British Vogue | Imran Amed Buisness of Fashion Interview