FIDM campus

CFA President Ilse Metchek Lectures on Current Business Realities

Students in Creative Industry Studies and Merchandise Product Development were treated to a guest speaker this week in their “Future Trends in Society” and “Fashion Business Startups” classes, taught by FIDM Instructors Claire-Dee Lim and Kenya Kirkland, respectively. Ilse Metchek, President and CEO of the California Fashion Association presented a virtual lecture, ”Passion for Change: Current Business Realities,” where she covered topics including digital marketing, the current retail environment, and future opportunities to anticipate as the fashion industry undergoes change in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

Metchek explained to the students that the disruption caused by the pandemic has shifted travel schedules for development and planning. The lack of trade show participation will affect supply chains through 2022. As things begin to open up, all eyes will be on retail consumers, particularly for the luxury market. And the relocation shift for production sourcing is something to contend with as well.

"The thesis of the [Future Trends in Society] course is that trends don't happen in a vacuum," explained FIDM Instructor Claire-Dee Lim. "They are rooted in shifts and events in the world, such as cultural, technological, and political, to name a few. Identifying the impact of these occurrences is instrumental in trend forecasting."

Prior to the shutdown, more than 80% of purchases were conducted in stores and less than 18% were online. Because the consumer could not shop in a store, everything shifted and we have yet to see where we are headed with new data. It’s been a total disruption of the industry.

Metchek touched on the idea of “fear turning to action,” with regard to consumers delaying non-essential purchases which, as she pointed out, includes apparel. She said 59% of Millennials (age 26-40) are delaying such purchases, which presents a colossal shift in the market as this was the demo who in the past wielded much buying power.

The rising athleisure trend, which has grown stronger in our current retail climate, surpassed denim in 2014, which incidentally continues to be on the decline. Metchek charted the data for the students, and pointed out that if and when they are putting together a fashion business plan for funding, lenders will look to data such as this to inform their business decisions. She impressed upon the class how critical it is to pay attention to data such as this. She said that McKinsey, a global management consulting firm, is “the industry bible.”

Metchek covered other major topics in the industry including sustainability, the power of influencers and social media, Patreon funding, and trends that will drive the global fashion industry to 2022.

"Ilse Metchek provided students with valuable insights about the fashion industry, its relationship to social media, notions of sustainability, and more," said Claire-Dee Lim. "I would go so far as to say her forecasting could apply to many other industries as well. And with the impact of Covid-19, she addressed what the industry will be like moving forward, which was a perfect case study for this course."

Ilse Metchek serves on the Advisory Board at FIDM, and says, “After decades of interaction, both on campus and virtually, I have always found FIDM to be at the forefront of the adjustment needed to the ‘temper of the times’...ever changing, and ever growing; always for the benefit of its students."

A fashion industry veteran, Metchek has held roles as the Executive Director of the California Mart and President of White Stag Inc., a division of Warnaco Industries. As a designer and merchandiser, she worked for the Anjac Fashion Corporation for 17 years, then purchased the company in 1984 and changed its name to Ilse M.

The CFA provides leaders of Southern California’s manufacturing and textile communities with the opportunity to share information about conducting business in the current global economy.

In "Future Trends in Society," students explore the demographic trends, shifts in technology, and varied communication avenues of the current socioeconomic landscape as a means of anticipating the cultural expectations, values, and practices that give rise to new products, methods of marketing/communication, and business trends. 

FIDM’s "Fashion Start-Up Strategies" course challenges students to evaluate and apply emerging technologies, social media, crowdfunding, and supply chain logistics to create their own fashion start-up. Emphasis is placed on understanding consumer behavior in the digital era and meeting customer expectations while building a brand and new brand experience.

Categories:  Creative Industry Studies Merchandise Product Development