Imran Amed on the Future of Fashion in Vogue Talks

Vogue Talks: Imran Amed on Passion, Identity, the Future, and the Business of Fashion

Pam Quiñones, Imran Amed, and Bea Valdes. Photo by Kieran Punay

Imran Amed. Photo by Excel Panlaque

The Philippine fashion, beauty, and business industry gathered to learn from the visionary behind the Business of Fashion.

The Samsung Performing Arts Theater buzzed with excitement as Vogue Philippines hosted the seventh edition of Vogue Talks featuring Imran Amed, founder and editor-in-chief of the Business of Fashion (BoF). The July 9 event is the latest in a series of enlightening conversations with industry leaders, which included creatives and thought leaders such as Sharif Hamza, Marian Pastor Roces, Anna Lagon, and Carlo Chen-Delantar. On stage, Amed was joined by Vogue Philippines editor-in-chief Bea Valdes and fashion director Pam Quiñones, who facilitated the talk.

Amed captivated the audience with his journey from a management consultant in London to becoming one of fashion’s most influential voices. Guests were from a variety of industries, including Dr. Vicki Belo and Dr. Hayden Kho from the Belo Medical Group, and representatives from Suyen Corporation, Vision Express, BAYO, Dexterton, Opulence, Hermes, Alpha Line, and Gucci.

Arsi Baltazar, Anna Lagon, and Francis Libiran. Photo by Ed Simon

“The people who are drawn to the fashion industry are drawn to it from a place of passion,” the BoF founder says at the start. The entrepreneur recalled his own unfulfilled feelings after 10 years of following a traditional business path. “There were a lot of people telling me there were no jobs for people like me in fashion, so I decided to start my own company.” 

The 49-year-old comes from a family of immigrants, with his school teacher mother and architect father being of Indian descent. Amed spoke about the power of education and the support he received from them, speaking fondly of the support and guidance provided to him in his formative years. He also credits his success and multicultural outlook not only to his family but also to his experience traveling and living in different cities. On Instagram, Amed’s bio reads: “Canadian by birth, East Indian by ethnicity, East African by heritage, Londoner by choice.” “I grew up in a very nurturing multicultural environment,” he said. “My multicultural identity informs my worldview, but it doesn’t limit me.”

Imran Amed. Photo by Ed Simon

His venture, the Business of Fashion, began modestly. “At the end of January 2007, we had three subscribers. Everything started with that little blog.” Within eight months, his commentary on the fashion industry gained significant traction, with some of his early articles quickly going viral, emphasizing the importance of timing and the rapid spread of ideas in the digital age. To Amed, being an outsider in the media industry allowed him to remain curious and to innovate in unexpected ways. “I didn’t necessarily have to follow the conventions of running a media company; I can just be innovative.” With BoF, he aimed to create “a safe place for people to share their ideas, to discuss and debate the things that were shaping the fashion industry.”

Vogue Philippines hosts its seventh iteration of Vogue Talks at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater. Photo by Kieran Punay

Addressing the current state of fashion, Imran touched on the shifts in consumer behavior, noting how customers are now shopping with a more discerning eye. He also lamented the commercialization of creativity, emphasizing the importance of supporting young creatives and their vision while finding the balance in business. “The industry is at a moment of reckoning,” he says. “Every couple of years, the fashion industry has to rethink everything.” For future professionals in the fashion industry, Amed offered sage advice: “This path takes real perseverance and courage. If you’re going to take this path, know that it won’t be easy.” He encouraged finding an alignment of skill, purpose, and passion. “People always ask me, ‘How do I know what my passion is?’” Amed answers, “Your passion is the thing that you think about in your spare time when no one is paying you.”

In multiple creative industries, new technological advancements including the rise of generative AI pose a threat. Amed, who started BoF in a digital space, positively advocates for experimentation and adaptation. “I really believe that when something new comes along, we need to experiment and embrace it,” he said. Amed expressed his excitement for the future of technology and fashion, providing several ideas for its supplementary services to fashion. “When you take a really advanced design with age-old craft, you create something modern,” he expressed, pointing out the importance of craft preservation especially in the contemporary world. “If we don’t preserve creativity, it is in danger of being lost.”

Pam Quiñones, Imran Amed, and Bea Valdes. Photo by Ed Simon

Following the inspiring talk, Amed and a select group of attendees were invited to an exclusive dinner at Mirèio restaurant, located in Raffles Hotel in Makati. Guests included Jappy Gonzalez, Anton Huang, Kenneth Cobonpue, and Sofia Elizalde, who all enjoyed the elegant ambiance of Mirèio with its stunning views of the Makati skyline. The dinner provided an intimate setting for deeper discussions, paired with a curated menu featuring French-Mediterranean cuisine and accompanied by fine wines.

Ending the night on a memorable note, Amed expressed his gratitude for the warm Filipino welcome he received. “As soon as I landed from the plane, I already felt like I was somewhere special,” he said. With his appearance at the Vogue Talks marking his first return to the Philippines after 20 years, Filipino creatives and business leaders inspired by his journey and work at the Business of Fashion can only hope it won’t be the last.

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