Well Made

Ep. 140 Streaming the runway with Hilary Milnes

February 25, 2021 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

In the summer of 2018, we talked to Hilary Milnes about how retail isn't dead but it's changing, the struggle of shuttering department stores, and innovative ways that online and offline shopping can intersect. 

Over two years later, it's a case of same same but different. Hilary is still covering retail and fashion, but as the Americas Editor for Vogue Business. And now, one year into the pandemic, these trend trajectories have spiked, forcing brands to accelerate faster than anyone predicted. The customer-facing shifts came quickly — adapting to an online fashion month, pivoting retail strategies, and riding the ephemeral wave of creator-driven trends. But behind the scenes, supply chain shifts are still happening far too slow, leaving frontline fashion workers shortchanged and overworked, even amidst consumer outcries. 

On this episode, Hilary Milnes has optimistic and pessimistic takes on which of these shifts will stick in a post-pandemic world. She also illuminates new opportunities or smaller fashion brands and the ever-growing, ever-elusive role of the "creator."

“You have everyone operating on these digital tools that have been normalized over the last year, and also more power over the pace that you're contributing to.”

Burberry streamed its Spring 2021 fashion show live from a forest. Photos via Burberry. Streaming the runway
Burberry streamed its Spring 2021 fashion show live from a forest. Photos via Burberry. Streaming the runway

Burberry streamed its Spring 2021 fashion show live from a forest. Photos via Burberry.

In this episode, Hilary fills us in on her role as Americas Editor for Vogue Business. She recalls how last year's fashion month was cut short due to the pandemic and how designers have adapted this year, rethinking the role of the runway in a digital space (4:18). Bringing luxury online is only one of the ways in which the playing field has been leveled for smaller fashion brands to reach more audiences. 

Stephan and Hilary discuss what stays and what goes from a year of pivots, experiments, expansions, and closures (11:25). Hilary zooms in on the fashion industry. Numbers are getting back to pre-pandemic levels, but dangerous supply chain disparities are as persistent and glaring as ever (15:35).

Hilary contemplates what's left behind when America's over-retailed cities are dealing with new store closures every day and the death of the department store (19:21). How are DTC businesses are restrategizing their relationships with retailers? Stephan asks about Stitch Fix and their recent pandemic boom (27:46).

Hilary also navigates erratic nature of products going viral from TikTok videos (35:00). Can brands get comfortable with the seemingly elusive spikes and the demand for more authentic content? Taking the old with the new, she shares Vogue Businesses success with LinkedIn and some new work to look forward to.

Also mentioned on this episode:

You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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