LONDON, United Kingdom — Welcome to episode two of Drive, BoF’s new podcast series featuring fashion’s most dynamic entrepreneurs discussing the special kind of resilience it takes to build a global fashion business, delivered by DHL.
In this episode, BoF’s Imran Amed sits down with Diane von Furstenberg, a global beacon for female empowerment, who reveals how she developed the iconic “DVF” wrap dress which has been sold in 10 million iterations, her gripping journey into upper echelons of fashion, and the challenges she faced building her business in a man’s world.
“I wanted to be a woman who’s in charge of her destiny, who could pay her bills. I wanted to be an independent woman. I went to Angelo Ferretti and said: ‘I am pregnant. I am getting married and I’m moving to New York. Will you please, please, please allow me to make some clothes that I will try to sell in America?’ So I would stay late at night with the pattern maker and grab any fabric that was on the floor, leftovers. That’s how I made my first dresses.” she explains.
From that early experimentation came the wrap dress and her lightning-quick ascent, including an appearance on the cover of Newsweek Magazine. But just four years in, oversupply of her product led to widespread discounting and numerous financial and business challenges, going “from hero to zero.”
Yet through it all, Von Furstenberg demonstrated the kind of mettle entrepreneurs need to be successful over the long term. “You have to live the moment and you have to own whatever it is, a catastrophe, anything. Face it, own it, deal with it,” she says.
Indeed, as DVF’s journey attests, the pressure of building a start-up into a thriving global brand is relentless. You never know which new challenge is around the corner. But it’s the ability to adapt to new challenges and opportunities, as well as a special kind of passion, resilience and discipline that create a sustainable global enterprise. Something we call Drive.
We hope you enjoy Episode 2!
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