The honeymoon’s over. It’s time to work together. Now what?
Perhaps the biggest early obstacle for any brand in fashion tech is talent believes Karen Harvey, founder of last week’s Fashion Tech Forum and The Karen Harvey Consulting Group. Karen and team are internationally recognized for placing top talent into global companies like Lulu Lemon’s new CEO, Laurent Potdevin and Gap’s Creative Director, Rebekka Bay.
People in fashion haven’t yet mastered tech and tech doesn’t know fashion either. Ironically though, we have learned that the only way to build transformative brands in the future is to find exceptional talent with actual experience in fashion, notes Harvey in her opening speech.
“Attracting new talent will not get any easier. It’s a race for talent. Most fashion brands think in silos resulting in missed opportunities, slower innovation and leaders who cannot work cross-functionally.” On the other side of the coin, “many tech startups in fashion and retail don’t know what they need when it comes to talent,” says Harvey.
While growth will always remain the most important factor for sustained business, hiring is the number one challenge for most San Francisco based fashion tech startups, says Tim Weingarten, CEO and Co-Founder of The Hunt. We’re on the search for UX and Product Managers when asked their focus for the next three months. Michael Leming, Chief Talent Scout for Nike, shared that Nike has made more than 300 hires in the last year for its digital team, mostly from Silicon Valley. “There’s this morphing between fashion and technology,” says Leming.
Culture fit is the key ingredient to finding and maintaining talent. According to a recent Millenial Branding report, 60% of Millennials, the group born between 1982 and 1996 and two billion strong, are leaving their companies in less than three years with the primary indicator being a good cultural fit.
So what are Millennials seeking when finding a great culture fit? Flexibility, purposeful labor and economic security. Similarly though, knowledge and wisdom will always be irrefutably necessary. We have entered a time for a new conversation to share ideas, best practices and historical knowledge between both the fashion and tech communities.