by Zoey Grossman
Twice a year Copenhagen becomes the capital of Scandinavian fashion with fashion week on one hand and fashion fairs on the other lighting up the otherwise monotone aesthetics of scandi-fashion scene. And that has been the general narrative that has propped up Copenhagen as the jewel on the Scandinavian crown. But like all crowns, this one is about to slip. Insert the innovative team of FCI (Fashion Conventions International) who are moving into a space ripe for disruption. The traditional heavy hitters in the fashion fair market like CIFF (Copenhagen International Fashion Fair) are faced with a new reality of losing ground to the new upstart from the north. As designers look for synergy between product and publicity the innovative model of FCI becomes more relevant in each passing day. We sat down with FCI founder Jhan-Carlo David Herrera Ferrando to talk about Fashion, FCI fair, and Norway's longest runway.
Q: Carlo, Please tell us how FCI is changing the paradigm within Scandinavian fashion? How did it all start?
A: FCI as a platform was born out of frustration with the current paradigm. After showing two collections during the fashion week it was quite clear to me that the current model was not working at least for designers who are setting up their own brands and competing in the market for buyers, press and everything in between. My experience as a designer provided me with a unique insight that this industry in its current form is not sustainable. On top of that, the synergy between buyers, press, and designers was lacking for even well-established fashion houses. To better understand the divide between buyers and designers I conducted two extensive market research that encompassed almost 5000 stores across the country to fully comprehend where the missing link to this puzzle was. We have buyers and we have excellent designers yet our buyers were not buying from excellent designers. By talking to high-end fashion stores to small store owners I found the clarity I needed to proceed with creating FCI. My idea was to bridge the gap between catwalk which is entrenched in the marketing side of fashion with the fashion fairs, which works as almost a temporary retail. We did this to make it easier to make a business decision for the buyers. We merged with Health & Beauty Scandinavia because beauty and fashion are an easy and natural fit. So by taking these different threads of the fashion business and weaving them into one narrative is what FCI is doing.
Q: So FCI is a bridge between the buyers and sellers?
A: It is one of the bridges. But within FCI I view our role as not only a bridge to commerce but also a platform for making the industry more competitive and more lucrative. Our fashion fairs touch on all aspect of fashion from designers to buyers to runways to beauty and health. It is, in my opinion, the most comprehensive fashion fair in the world right now. And we are also providing platforms for our models and designers. By jury selecting influential designers we are creating space for designers to showcase their work within a competitive environment which is not only driven by how big you are but also how good you are. We have brought in people from London fashion week, New York fashion week, Vancouver Fashion week to help us standardize our processes. On top of that, we have photographers from Vogue helping us to convey the right aesthetic for an evolving industry. So yes the primary interaction is between the buyer and seller but FCI is so much more.
Q: What kind of impact do you think this fashion fair would have on the Norwegian fashion scene?
A: I think the impact is going to be long-lasting and some of it may be incremental and some of it would be revolutionary. Our collective experience within the fashion industry is a huge asset and by dissecting what works and what does not, we provide the designers with the right tool to move forward and make their talents go the furthest. We are not bound by traditionalist ideas of commerce or exposure. We have strong allies like Deux Magazine who share our vision and moving forward is almost inevitable at this point. The change in attitude along with the ability to create universal products is going to be the biggest impact of FCI on the Norwegian fashion industry.
Q: Who are the people that make FCI? Do you have a strong team with you?
A: I sure do. The people who make up FCI are industry professionals from all facets of fashion. Designers, models, photographers are all on our team not only because it is a financially sustainable idea but also because they believe in what FCI is trying to do. That is why we have collaborations with NYFW and Vancouver Fashion Week along with EB Models. International Fashion Influencers like Jamal Abdourahman and Omi have decided to collaborate with us because of the vision and the promise FCI holds. It is always a privilege to see how people who truly understand the market and know where it is going react so positively to our idea. So I would say my team is as good as any. but like all great teams, there is always room to improve.
Q : You mentioned Jury selection and providing a platform to the most promising brands of Norway to showcase their work. What are the brands are you working with?
A: We thought it would be a great idea to bring in the best and the brightest designer and let them show us what they can do. By having a jury selection process older designers were competing with newer designers to push the boundaries of fashion forward. Well established designers like Holzweiler and Veronica B Vallenes and newer designers like Brgn by Lunde & Gaundal and Cala Jade are all vying for the top four spots that would guarantee them a runway show. This sort of competition is healthy not only for the industry but also for the designers as they get a better understanding of where their work is progressing. And having a spot on Fashion 1 Tv while showing on Norway's longest runway in the world is going to be one of the highlights for many brands. It is a recognition of their work but also a great platform to launch globally.
Q : What is next for FCI?
A: Well our ambitions are global. We want to take our Norwegian sense of aesthetics and our expertise and expand globally. We would like to see a fair in Athens or in Lisbon or in Shanghai or any other untapped places where the brands would love to come but have not had the opportunity to go. We want to look at FCI as a diverse, global company that lives by the global standards of fashion. We are not here to make up numbers, we are here to excel. And for that reason, we would love for designers outside of Norway to come check us out, drop by, say hello, have a stall and truly take in the experience of FCI. New designers can sign up here.
As we finished up our interview with Carlo, one thing was evident...this idea of FCI is not only driven by sky-high dreams but also has a lot of realistic components to it. And if FCI is able to execute this idea as they want to, this is going to change the dynamic of fashion in Norway. And bring in brands from outside.