How the Harvard Business School grad became fashion’s most sought-after expert on luxury in the digital age.
“I don’t want to come off as some kind of futurist,” says Amed, in the Canadian accent he’s held on to despite having lived in London for 14 years. (He grew up in Calgary, the son of Indian parents who immigrated from East Africa.) “All I knew was that something was happening, and it would be exciting to be a part of it.”
Amed is now very much a part of it. His early recognition of the importance of digital innovation in fashion put him and his blog-turned-website, The Business of Fashion, in an enviable position. In the past few years, he’s conducted workshops for executives at luxury conglomerates like Richemont (Cartier, Chloé), LVMH (Dior, Givenchy, Céline) and Kering (Gucci, Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney) to help them understand the digital forces unraveling the universe where they were once masters. Even Google, a year and a half ago, invited him to speak to the company’s top brass and their luxury advertisers, like Net-A-Porter and Burberry.
In February of this year, Amed’s site—which, as he describes it, is “kind of a blog, kind of a B2B trade journal and kind of a magazine” that he launched in January 2007 “from his couch”—received $2.1 million from a group of investors that includes LVMH and venture capital firm Index Ventures, which takes early-stage positions in web-savvy fashion companies like Nasty Gal and Asos. He used the cash infusion to hire a staff of 10 and move into a light-filled open-plan office in London’s Soho neighborhood. Amed is busier than ever, juggling a packed travel schedule of speaking engagements and events from New Delhi to Sydney in addition to serving as his site’s editor-in-chief.
If Amed has a special talent for attracting that rarefied audience, it’s his ability to speak the language of both the suits and the creatives in fashion. “He’s not the classic profile that you see coming out of consulting,” says Pierre-Yves Roussel, the LVMH executive who hired Amed as an advisor when he came seeking professional advice after leaving the fast track at McKinsey in 2006. “Business people tend to think very sequentially. But Imran can enter into dialogue with creative people. He can connect the dots.”
Though it’s still not clear how Imran will make money from the site, his new partners are confident. “He’s a real disruptor to the way people got their information in the past,” says Robin Klein, a principal at Index Ventures. “Who knows? He may develop the Business of X, Y, and Zed in the future. We’re backing Imran rather than a specific business plan.”
READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY MEENAL MISTRY ON THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.