Imran Amed may be a visionary, but he claims he doesn’t have a crystal ball.
During Amed’s conversation with SCAD Savannah vice president John Paul Rowan at the SCAD Museum of Art theater, the Business of Fashion founder and SCADstyle 2017 honorary chair resisted the notion that he's a fashion soothsayer.
Amed explained that he could never have predicted the success of his blog, which began as a passion project from his sofa, and has grown into a global media company and a daily must-read for its analysis and interviews, drawing more than a million unique visitors each month.
“Ten years ago, I had no idea I’d be sitting here today,” he said, laughing. Amed’s words resonated with the SCAD students in attendance, all intent on turning passion into profession. SCAD’s thoughtfully curated degree programs in fashion, fashion marketing and management, and luxury and fashion management are all especially attuned to the dynamism of Amed’s industry.
Coolly dressed in a blue-and-red bomber jacket and white sneakers, Amed told students that the “glamour and gloss” that attracts so many to the industry is just that — the surface. Beneath it lie rich stories waiting to be told and important parts to play. He recommended learning the ropes in a small-business setting before deciding on a focus.
“In order to understand your role, you have to understand all of the fashion business,” he said.
Amed stated his belief that while the “gadgets and gizmos” upending today’s world may be flashy, customers still want to connect with real people and products. He sees brands who chase after every new tech trend — without considering whether it makes sense for their mission — as misguided. Conversely, he praised social media influencers who use their platforms to drive the larger conversation in meaningful ways.
Some students in the audience sported white bandanas on their wrists, the emblem of BoF’s #TiedTogether campaign. Amed launched the initiative to emphasize values of solidarity, unity and inclusiveness after other global fashion companies declined to speak out about intolerance. The #TiedTogether bandanas have been paraded down Fashion Week runways from New York to Milan and London to Paris, raising more than $50,000 for the American Civil Liberties Union and the UN Refugee Agency.
#TiedTogether is another initiative whose popularity blossomed in a way Amed could not have foretold. From launching his blog to developing each new BoF feature — including education, events and career listings — authentic risk-taking has remained his guiding force.
Amed addressed a variety of au courant questions from students on topics ranging from wearable technology and artificial intelligence in retail, to the atomization of Fashion Week and the evolving luxury market.
“We’re in a time of great disruption in fashion,” Amed said. “That also means we’re in a time of great innovation.”
Rather than attempting to guess the future, Amed advised students to know themselves first.
“What is it that gets you excited, what makes you wonder? Connect your personal passion points with your career,” he said. “That’s where the magic happens.”