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LONDON, United Kingdom — Sourcing unique insights from a global group of leading thinkers, in a new podcast series BoF investigates the forces transforming the retail market. From seismic shifts in consumer psychology to innovative new operational efficiencies and the transformation of the industry to answer growing calls for transparency and responsibility, retail is being reborn.
Presented by Brookfield Properties, the series will address the rapidly evolving fundamentals of fashion retail: consumers, supply chains and on-and-offline commerce, before outlining what a reimagined retail eco-system could look like, reflecting the increasing sociological and ecological expectations of global consumers, informed by the learnings of the previous episodes.
Host Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, is joined by a global panel of thought leaders, retail mavericks and industry experts, sharing best practices, long-term strategies, as well as novel challenges and opportunities. From Christina Fontana, head of fashion and luxury for Tmall’s luxury division in Europe, to John S. Thorbeck, Chainge Capital LLC chairman, Neighborhood Goods Founder Matt Alexander and Dio Kurazawa, formerly head of denim at leading trend forecasters WGSN and founder of The Bear Scouts, each episode is underpinned with years of industry insight and experience, with voices from globally renowned brands.
Beginning the series with shifting consumer sentiment, we examine the swing in consumer psyche post-trauma, as customers continue to grapple with the emotional and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In episode 2, Stephens goes on to address the newly exposed flaws within global supply chains and the new operational necessities that will underscore a move towards more sustainable production.
Episodes 3 and 4 will explore the new challenges and opportunities on and offline commerce represent, before the series builds to its crescendo and concludes by positing a comprehensive view of a potential new retail ecosystem — one operating in an indelibly altered market, with newly resurgent values and a newfound sense of responsibility to act as a global, positive force for change for both people and the planet.
To discover how retail’s rebirth will impact your business and learn critical, actionable insights into the challenges and opportunities retail’s new ecosystem will bring, follow the series to ensure you never miss an episode.
Retail Reborn: Expert Commentators
John S. Thorbeck is chairman of Chainge Capital LLC, a firm focused on transforming the operations of the fashion business. Thorbeck offers thought leadership in speed-to-market in his co-authored journal The Zara Gap, which details a financial model that links speed and market value, a case study on fast fashion strategies and process and data innovations. Thorbeck’s retail experience spans several executive roles across globally renowned brands: CEO of GH Bass & Co (PVH) and Rockport (Adidas); marketing executive for Timberland Co. and Nike; and advisory board member of numerous new ventures.
Ben Kaufman is the CEO and co-founder of CAMP, a US retail chain of family experience stores which he launched in 2018. With an outpost in New York’s Hudson Yards complex and further locations in Brooklyn, Connecticut and Dallas, CAMP combines play, product and media throughout its stores to create an enriching and fulfilling retail experience for both children and adults. Prior to founding CAMP, Kaufman led the commerce strategy at online media platform Buzzfeed, going on to serve as chief marketing officer.
Nina Marenzi is the founder of The Sustainable Angle, a London-based not-for-profit organisation launched in 2010 with a mission to reduce the fashion industry’s environmental impact. Its hero initiative, The Future Fabrics Expo, stemmed from Marenzi’s exposure to industry waste and material inefficiencies across the industry as a student. The showcase, now in its ninth edition, is the largest dedicated exhibition of innovative and sustainable materials in Europe, showcasing over 5,000 materials from more than 150 suppliers, connecting the fashion industry to sustainable design solutions.
Dio Kurazawa is the founder of The Bear Scouts, assisting influential brands with innovative sustainable solutions through the utilisation and implementation of socially responsible supply chains. Kurazawa served as head of denim at leading trend forecasters WGSN and brings more than 20 years of experience within the fashion industry.
Matt Alexander is the founder of Neighborhood Goods, an experiential department store working to reshape the notion of physical retail, with an ever-evolving roster of thoughtful, exciting and contemporary brands, stories and events, raising a total of $25.6M in funding over four rounds of funding. Alongside this, Alexander co-founded Unbranded, a not-for-profit pop-up series providing free retail and event space to independent entrepreneurs, artists, chefs and more — now entering its fifth year.
Sheldon Solomon PhD is a social psychologist and professor of psychology at Skidmore University in New York, and a world-renowned researcher into death and its impact on consumer behaviour. Solomon is one of three researches credited for developing Terror Management Theory and is the author and co-author of more than 100 academic articles and several books, including In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror.
Christina Fontana is the head of fashion and luxury for Alibaba-owned Tmall’s luxury division in Europe. Joining in 2015, Fontana works to support European brands in leveraging Alibaba’s ecosystem and insights to enter the Chinese market, and connect them with more than 700 million consumers as they become an increasingly key growth driver for retailers. Prior to her role at Tmall, Fontana has over 20 years experience working in digital start-ups.
Xiaodong Chen is the chief executive of Chinese department store chain Intime. With more than 60 stores in 33 cities across China, Intime leads the charge among brick-and-mortar retail with the backing of e-commerce giant Alibaba. Chen focuses on “new retail’ strategy via omnichannel approaches and the digital restructuring of department stores and has won numerous awards, including Forbes China’s Best CEO and 2016 China Business Innovation Leader.
Neha Singh enables brands and retailers to serve 3D and 360 degrees shopping experiences on their websites via Obsess, the augmented and virtual reality software platform she founded in 2017. Prior to Obsess, Singh attained a graduate degree in Computer Science from MIT and has led engineering and product teams at Google and Vogue, building platforms and products that reach millions of users.
Harley Finkelstein is an entrepreneur, lawyer and chief operating officer of Shopify, the leading e-commerce solutions company for retailers powering over 1 million online businesses in 175 countries. In addition to his work at Shopify, Finkelstein is an advisor to Felicis Ventures and has been the recipient of several entrepreneurial awards, including the Canadian Angel Investor of the Year Award and Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award.
Rachel Shechtman is an entrepreneur and fourth-generation retailer who founded Story, a physical retail marketing experience. The concept offers experiential, narrative-driven takeovers of its retail space, reviving itself every four to eight weeks by changing the store’s design, product offering and merchandising. In 2018, Macy’s acquired the concept store and appointed Shechtman its first brand experience officer. Before Story, Shechtman worked in consulting. In 2003, she founded Cube Ventures, a retail consulting firm that worked with clients like Toms, Gap, CFDA and JC Penney.
Robert Hoppenheim is the president and founder of Kindustry, a brand strategy and communications advisory specialising in evolving brand essence and purpose. With experience as a corporate lawyer, management consultant and retail executive, Hoppenheim has been a thought leader in social impact branding for over 10 years, advising global organisations such as Sotheby’s, Selfridges, M.A.C. Cosmetics and the Clinton Foundation.
Kalkidan Legesse is the co-founder and managing director of Sancho’s, a UK-based ethical brand and retailer, which exclusively carries brands that offer high quality design, ecological materials and transparent fair trade. Legesse has also written on topics such as racism and exploitation within the fashion industry for publications such as The Guardian.
Sanjeev Bahl is the founder and chief executive of Vietnam-based Saitex, the only certified B Corp large-scale denim manufacturer, counting Everlane, Madewell, Target and G-Star Raw among its clients. Its popularity with major US brands can be pinpointed to the sustainable practices underpinning the manufacturing process. As of 2019, the plant is a zero-discharge facility, recycling 98 percent of its water and evaporating the other two. Any waste produced in the denim colouring process is mixed with concrete to form building blocks.
Ilka Jordan is the founder and CEO at Jordan Alliance Group Inc (JAG), a minority-owned and women-led management consulting firm at the forefront of the Fashion Retail Industry’s supply chain circularity. Jordan has over twenty years’ experience in the digitisation of supply chain operations at large and mid-sized retailers, and degrees from the American InterContinental University (AIU) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).