Asian Fashion Hour Live


‘The Three Secret Ingredients of Success’ by SarahKBlog

I was in Birmingham for a special Asian fashion event, Asian Fashion Hour Live. For those of you who aren’t aware of Asian Fashion Hour, it’s a live discussion which takes place every Friday’s on Twitter where the organiser, Yasmin invites bloggers, designers, industry professionals and the public to take part in the hot topics in the UK Asian fashion industry.

Within the hour participants discuss online shopping, customer service to how we can improve the British Asian fashion scene. And on this one-off occasion #AsianFashionHour was live at The Space in Birmingham. The special guests on the panel included radio presenter and fashion designer Noreen Khan, menswear designer Julien Trivedi and make-up artist Ravita Pannu.

The discussion kicked off with talk of why Asian fashion brands don’t go online – Noreen Khan explained she wanted to introduce a fairly new concept to the UK Asian fashion scene and sell online. Luckily enough business partner and fashion guru Gabby details with the busy digital work fashion questions and requested ensuring good customer service is imperative. Whereas, Julien Trivedi mentioned he couldn’t sell online as his exclusive tailoring service could only be done face-to-face and with face-to-face consultations to gain a sense of their customer’s requirements and needs. And interestingly enough, Ravita Pannu used both online and offline-marketing methods to offer her beauty services to the public and advised traditional and digital were crucial for the success of her business.

It was clear from the discussion many brands were still not utilising the online landscape and lacked in expert knowledge. However most Asian high street brands offer a more personalised bridal or party wear service which can be difficult for buyers to offer online, after all it’s hard to understand the buyers needs face-to-face let alone remotely. On the flip side buyers find it hard to trust Asian fashion brands due to face-to-face customer service so why would buyers trust outlets with a large transaction being exchanged in the virtual world – trust is key.

I was glad to hear the organisers put an important question to the panel, ‘How do the designers feel when they see people copying their work?’ They kindly shared their experiences (no names mentioned of course) and voiced their inner frustrations. They told us how hard it was to see their hard work being replicated and being sold on the market.

I challenged the South Asian entrepreneurs as most of us are fed up of going to shops and being told off for taking photos when we just want to blog or share with friends. And we can’t find photos on social media or online even if we were buying, surely they must be losing business? For instance, think about western fashion labels – they don’t seem to care who copies them as they trust their rare abilities and built a strong brand identity that by just having the designer label tag on the back of their clothes is enough for many to pay hundreds. In addition, in the western world buying a copy will never compare to the original masterpiece and it’s seen as shameful with some individuals.

I was fascinated as the panel spoke about their success in more detail. They advised to be successful you need to have a few secret ingredients including being innovative, quirky and unique whilst being honest with customers.

All three mentioned they all had full-time jobs, had to be stable and worked on their passions on the sidelines. I couldn’t help but think their success stemmed from doing what they loved and helping others rather than being blinded by profit like some Asian labels start out.

The one thing all the entrepreneurs had in common was passion, dedication and hard work in their genes. They sacrificed a lot in life but with a strong support system they sat and shared their inspiring stories and took us on their journey. Their sheer determination to succeed in life created a beacon of hope and a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

To join the #AsianFashionHour chat, tune in to Twitter every Friday from 7pm to 8pm.

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