null
{"author":"Sally Paton","body":"<h1>Ken Leung</h1>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\">\r\n\tIn the lead-up to our WeWearAustralia 2021 campaign launch, Showroom-X Founder Richard Poulson and seasoned creative visionary Ken Leung met to discuss brand purpose and the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’ or ‘reason for being’. Ken Leung has over 20 years of experience creating the visual language of global brands, including DKNY, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and is responsible for elevating Uniqlo to a global audience in his role as creative director. Ken has an extensive background in inspiring and empowering multi-disciplinary creative teams to produce unique, innovative and engaging brand experiences. Who better to share their knowledge with the Australian Retail Round Table - a meeting of minds that first gathered as an antidote to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. This forum provides a virtual meeting place to share stories, advice, support and bolster the retail community. Above all else, it serves as a reminder that we are all in this together and are capable of mutually uplifting all those who are part of the Australian fashion industry. We were so lucky to have Ken Leung join us to discuss ikigai, the intersection where your passions and talent converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for. Ken reminded us all that we each have a purpose, higher than profit and short-term gain. The best won success synchronously uplifts your community, respects the planet, and puts authenticity first.\r\n</p>\r\n<p>\r\n\t<strong>You're a Perth boy. What brings you back? </strong> <br>\r\n\t The nexus of coming back was to renew my U.S. work visa for Uniqlo. And after being here for four months, my family loved it so much, we decided to stay, and I'm not going back. So I’m officially the former Creative Director of Uniqlo.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n</p>\r\n<section class=\"blog-parallax-1\"><section class=\"photo-1\">\r\n<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-1-asset-1.jpg\">\r\n</section><section class=\"photo-2\">\r\n<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-1-asset-2.jpg\">\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n            \"I'm taking a look at this      \r\n\t<strong>Japanese concept of ikigai\"</strong>\r\n</p>\r\n</section><section class=\"photo-3\">\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<em>\"your reason for being</em>\r\n\t<br>\r\n\tand reason to get up\r\n\t<br>\r\n\t every morning.\"\r\n</p>\r\n<p>\r\n\t<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-1-asset-3.jpg\">\r\n</p>\r\n</section><section class=\"photo-4\">\r\n<p>\r\n\t<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-1-asset-4.jpg\">\r\n</p>\r\n</section></section><section class=\"blog-parallax-2\">\r\n<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-2-asset-5.jpg\" class=\"photo-1\">\r\n<br>\r\n<strong>You've worked in creative design for your entire professional career for some of the biggest brands in the world. We're here to talk about ikigai; Your reason for being in the context of branding, and how your reason for being relates to your brand. </strong> <br>\r\n\t It's the whole reason for me moving back to Perth. I had to re-evaluate my career and the lifestyle choices I've been making based around my career. I'm taking a look at this Japanese concept of ikigai: your reason for being and reason to get up every morning. It's what drives you as a person - your purpose. I've been looking at how I want to live my life moving forward. I've lived overseas for almost 20 years, in busy, the very work driven cities of London and New York. I've done work that I'm incredibly proud of. I've had amazing opportunities, but now the opportunity is here for me to shape my life and what I want to prioritise and what kind of work I want to do. That's my ikigai at the moment. And how that relates to brand purpose - It's about taking the time to sit and consider what you stand for as a brand.\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tAnd I'm sure there are a lot of people on the other side of the call who are feeling like it's groundhog day and thinking about what they want out of their lives. Did you feel as if your life was out of balance before moving back here? \r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nI definitely did. In 2019, I had a new place in New York, and from August to November, I only slept there for three nights because I was always on the road. That continued during the pandemic. I was on endless zoom calls, especially with Uniqlo. If you could see my alarm list, there were calls every 10 minutes through the night because I was on New York hours. It overtook my life and took its mental toll.  It really made me think about how I want to live my life, where I want to spend most of my time, and how I want to work as efficiently and creatively as possible.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tTell us a little about your career arc up until now... \r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nMy most recent role was as the global creative director for Uniqlo. I was overseeing all the luxury collaborations, from Jil Sander, JW Anderson, to Marimekko. It was a global role, and I had teams reporting to me from Paris, Shanghai, New York and Portland. Prior to that, I was at DKNY, where my role was to relaunch the brand and bring back its relevance from the 90s when it was in the ultimate urban, cool New York label. I oversaw the creative, advertising, runway shows. We did this runway show on the High Line, where we took over the meatpacking district and created a futuristic vision of New York. Before that, I was at Phillip Lim for six years. That was my first job in fashion. I went to New York, convinced Phillip to move me over from London, and then started the in-house branding team. I had the luxury of working alongside Phillip for six years and helped craft the vision of that brand. I really learned fashion on the job. Before that, I was in the magazine industry.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tBeyond a more balanced lifestyle, what motivates you to stay here in Australia?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nMy idea behind ikigai is to use my background, creativity, and connections to elevate my community - Perth, Western Australia, Australia. I can empathise with those of you in fashion retail at the moment. I know it's a tough time. We were in the same position all through 2020 during the pandemic in America. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and retail did come back stronger. The brands who took time to re-evaluate the messaging and efficiencies of their business seem to be coming out stronger. I want to work with Australian brands and help them scale and represent Australia in the best way possible.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tWe're very lucky to have you back on Australian soil! What do you think modern customers are looking for from brands?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nGlobally, modern customers are overwhelmed by choice. The things I've seen in the states and certainly here in Australia that have resonated with customers is when they find that emotional connection. That emotional connection is built with brands that stand for something. For example, a brand like Patagonia is very clear about what they stand for, such as their emphasis on sustainability, and they put this cause before profit. When you choose another brand that isn't communicating their brand purpose as well, they can't stand up to Patagonia.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tWhy is brand purpose important?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nFirstly, brand purpose is important for self-motivation, to drive yourself and your team towards a cause larger than profit. And secondly, smart consumers need an emotional connection with your brand beyond the product and a logo. I find that with the brands I work with, we need to define that brand purpose so that it's a clear message to the customer.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tWhat steps can brands take to create authentic messaging around their brand purpose?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nDefining an authentic brand purpose beyond making a product starts with leaders asking themselves, \"why do we exist?\" and inspiring alignment from everyone in the team. You need to hire smart people that authentically align with your purpose. Every team member needs to live and breathe your purpose authentically. This will then transfer outwards to the customer. Finally, you also need to think about how you are communicating your purpose to your customer. Keep messaging simple. Maintain confidence in what you stand for. Try not to lose sight of the bigger picture in pursuit of short term profit.\r\n</p>\r\n<blockquote>\r\n\t<br>\r\n\t“Finally, you also need to think about how you are communicating your purpose to your customer. Keep messaging simple. Maintain confidence in what you stand for. Try not to lose sight of the bigger picture in pursuit of short term profit.” \r\n\t<br>\r\n\t<strong><img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-2-asset-6.jpg\">\r\n\t</strong>\r\n</blockquote>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tWho are some brands doing it right?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nWe talked about Patagonia. Other brands who are doing well out of this cause - I would say Stella McCartney. They have very clear messaging. Tesla, for instance, are doing very well. It's clear to the world what this company stands for, love them or hate them. It's almost like the cult of Tesla.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tYou worked with MoMA and The Lourve with Uniqlo. How does the art world differ from fashion?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nThe brand purpose of Uniqlo is to make quality clothing democratic. The tagline was 'made for all', which is intended to infiltrate all our communication. Working with MOMA and Louvre was an idea to democratise art. In a sense, it's just a different creative expression but making it more accessible to a public who may see it as intimidating. In terms of how the art world works, they have freedom of expression, but fashion needs more of a purpose. It needs to be driven towards more of a consumer need.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tWhat role do you think brick and mortar stores play today?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nI think it's still important. Clothing, there's such a tactility to it. The fabric, details, you can try to capture as much as possible. You talk about the emotional connection to the customer. Of course, you can get that at some level through digital, but that emotional connection comes through human contact. How you're greeted by store staff, how it smells, how they talk to you and explain their knowledge of clothes with the touch of the fabric - you can see the craftsmanship that goes into it better in the store. I think it's a balance. A lot of people say that brick and mortar is on the way out, but I think it's just a matter of finding that balance and what works for whatever you produce.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tWhat does the future of the industry look like to you?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nFor me, my hope, I think we produce way too many products right now. I hope we become more efficient and more measured in our quantities and the way that we produce. I know personally, out of the pandemic, I am approaching life with a less is more, and better quality is more mindset. I hope we're not so driven by this relentless pursuit of the new in fashion and that we choose more investment pieces that are timeless. I know that fashion is driven by the seasons, but I do hope that some change can come. The pace is too relentless right now. And I hope we can find a way to slow down and take a more measured approach to fashion.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tAround the east coast of Australia, there are all these snap shutdowns. Was this the case in the US? And what can we learn from that in order to safeguard our retail spaces and our retail sector?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nI was in New York, and I was also working with markets around the world. New York was shut down for pretty much March through to July and then started to scale their store hours up slowly. I understand that on the East Coast, it's challenging to plan. We didn't have that experience in New York. It was a flat shutdown, and once stores were given the green light to reopen, they were able to remain open. Once they opened again, retail sales went through the roof for those who were able to weather the storm. Because consumers weren't able to spend their money, they went out in droves. We saw that in Asia too. In China, when the Hermes store reopened, it did a record first day, a couple of million. And the same went for Uniqlo there. Hopefully, it's the same in Australia, and the customers will all come back once it reopens. But with everything changing so rapidly, I understand how hard it is.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tWas there anything you learned during the pandemic that Australian brands may be able to use to help support their businesses during lockdowns?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nI would imagine people at home are more engaged with social media. I know I personally was engaging with brands and learning a lot of things about the industry when I wasn't able to go into the office. There is an opportunity to engage with more customers through thoughtful content and telling them different parts of your brand story. And it doesn't need to be a huge investment in creating content. You can do it very nimbly. I learned during the lockdown that a lot of the things that we were doing before, we can do a lot more efficiently, cost and speed wise. You don't need that full production we thought we did. We ironed out a lot of inefficiencies.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\n\tDuring your experiences working across the world, did you see the industry coming together to collaborate and support each other during the pandemic?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nIn New York, we didn't get government assistance. The US government do things their own way. Due to that lack of support, everyone had to band together. That kind of group, shared community mentality was something positive that came out of it. It was across all industries, in fashion and definitely in hospitality and restaurants, people were pulling together to keep each other motivated and support each other emotionally and with exposure to help with sales.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\nHow can brands better engage their audience?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nIn the US, I'm seeing many brands engaging their customers and asking for their feedback on product. That consumer engagement, where the consumer feels like they are part of and have a voice in the brand, is incalculable. There is a brand in the US called glossier, owned by Emily Whyte, and she has been really good at speaking directly to the customer via socials to talk about what products people are missing. It really engages the consumer and makes them feel like they are part of the brand, and the brand becomes a living thing with back and forth communication.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\nHow can we uplift the Australian fashion industry at this time?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nWell, here we are now, people from all parts of our industry, coming together. We have, right now, a community of people sharing each other's content and making sure people are aware of each other's brands.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<strong><br>\r\nHow can we uplift the Australian fashion industry at this time?\r\n\t</strong> <br>\r\nWell, here we are now, people from all parts of our industry, coming together. We have, right now, a community of people sharing each other's content and making sure people are aware of each other's brands.\r\n</p>\r\n<p style=\"color: #333333;\" class=\"text\">\r\n\t<br>\r\nWave Photo by @ryanmurphystudio\r\n</p>\r\n\r\n<section class=\"blog-parallax-3\"><em><strong><em><strong>\r\n<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-3-asset-7.jpg\" class=\"photo-1\">\r\n<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-3-asset-8-V3.jpg\" class=\"photo-2\">\r\n<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-3-asset-9.jpg\" class=\"photo-3\">\r\n<img src=\"/product_images/import/ken-parallax-3-asset-10.jpg\" class=\"photo-4\">\r\n</strong></em></strong></em></section><em><strong><em><strong><br>\r\n<pre class=\"x-field x-format:yaml\" style=\"margin-top: 100px\">\r\n# x-field x-format:yaml\r\nbodyTitle: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet\r\nteaserText: |\r\n        In the lead-up to our #WeWearAustralia 2021 campaign launch, Showroom-X Founder Richard Poulson and seasoned creative visionary Ken Leung met to discuss brand purpose and the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’ or ‘reason for being’. Ken Leung has over 20 years of experience creating the visual language of global brands, including DKNY, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and is responsible for elevating Uniqlo to a global audience in his role as creative director.\r\npublication:\r\n    name: Sally Paton\r\n    image: https://store-s1mbbc7h64.mybigcommerce.com/product_images/import/Sally-headshot.JPG\r\n    note: |\r\nrelated:\r\n    title: More From The Journal\r\n    items: \r\n        - /musings/bianca-spender-/\r\n        - /musings/muse-charlee-fraser/\r\n        - /musings/brodie-neill-/\r\n        - /musings/introducing-tatsiana-shevarenkova/\r\n</pre>\r\n</strong></em></strong></em>\r\n<p>\r\n\t<em><strong><em><strong></strong></em></strong></em>\r\n</p>\r\n<p>\r\n\t<em><strong><em><strong></strong></em></strong></em>\r\n</p>\r\n<p>\r\n\t<em><strong><em><strong></strong></em></strong></em>\r\n</p>\r\n<p>\r\n\t<em><strong><em><strong></strong></em></strong></em>\r\n</p>\r\n</section>","date_published":"27th Aug 2021","tags":[{"name":"Portfolios","url":"https://showroom-x.com/musings/tag/Portfolios"}],"thumbnail":{"alt":"Conversation with Ken Leung - Minutes of Meeting","data":"https://cdn11.bigcommerce.com/s-s1mbbc7h64/images/stencil/{:size}/uploaded_images/ken-and-rich.jpeg?t=1629962662"},"title":"Conversation with Ken Leung - Minutes of Meeting","url":"https://showroom-x.com/musings/conversation-with-ken-leung-minutes-of-meeting/"}

Ken Leung

In the lead-up to our WeWearAustralia 2021 campaign launch, Showroom-X Founder Richard Poulson and seasoned creative visionary Ken Leung met to discuss brand purpose and the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’ or ‘reason for being’. Ken Leung has over 20 years of experience creating the visual language of global brands, including DKNY, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and is responsible for elevating Uniqlo to a global audience in his role as creative director. Ken has an extensive background in inspiring and empowering multi-disciplinary creative teams to produce unique, innovative and engaging brand experiences. Who better to share their knowledge with the Australian Retail Round Table - a meeting of minds that first gathered as an antidote to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. This forum provides a virtual meeting place to share stories, advice, support and bolster the retail community. Above all else, it serves as a reminder that we are all in this together and are capable of mutually uplifting all those who are part of the Australian fashion industry. We were so lucky to have Ken Leung join us to discuss ikigai, the intersection where your passions and talent converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for. Ken reminded us all that we each have a purpose, higher than profit and short-term gain. The best won success synchronously uplifts your community, respects the planet, and puts authenticity first.

You're a Perth boy. What brings you back?
The nexus of coming back was to renew my U.S. work visa for Uniqlo. And after being here for four months, my family loved it so much, we decided to stay, and I'm not going back. So I’m officially the former Creative Director of Uniqlo.

"I'm taking a look at this Japanese concept of ikigai"

"your reason for being
and reason to get up
every morning."


You've worked in creative design for your entire professional career for some of the biggest brands in the world. We're here to talk about ikigai; Your reason for being in the context of branding, and how your reason for being relates to your brand.
It's the whole reason for me moving back to Perth. I had to re-evaluate my career and the lifestyle choices I've been making based around my career. I'm taking a look at this Japanese concept of ikigai: your reason for being and reason to get up every morning. It's what drives you as a person - your purpose. I've been looking at how I want to live my life moving forward. I've lived overseas for almost 20 years, in busy, the very work driven cities of London and New York. I've done work that I'm incredibly proud of. I've had amazing opportunities, but now the opportunity is here for me to shape my life and what I want to prioritise and what kind of work I want to do. That's my ikigai at the moment. And how that relates to brand purpose - It's about taking the time to sit and consider what you stand for as a brand.


And I'm sure there are a lot of people on the other side of the call who are feeling like it's groundhog day and thinking about what they want out of their lives. Did you feel as if your life was out of balance before moving back here?

I definitely did. In 2019, I had a new place in New York, and from August to November, I only slept there for three nights because I was always on the road. That continued during the pandemic. I was on endless zoom calls, especially with Uniqlo. If you could see my alarm list, there were calls every 10 minutes through the night because I was on New York hours. It overtook my life and took its mental toll. It really made me think about how I want to live my life, where I want to spend most of my time, and how I want to work as efficiently and creatively as possible.


Tell us a little about your career arc up until now...

My most recent role was as the global creative director for Uniqlo. I was overseeing all the luxury collaborations, from Jil Sander, JW Anderson, to Marimekko. It was a global role, and I had teams reporting to me from Paris, Shanghai, New York and Portland. Prior to that, I was at DKNY, where my role was to relaunch the brand and bring back its relevance from the 90s when it was in the ultimate urban, cool New York label. I oversaw the creative, advertising, runway shows. We did this runway show on the High Line, where we took over the meatpacking district and created a futuristic vision of New York. Before that, I was at Phillip Lim for six years. That was my first job in fashion. I went to New York, convinced Phillip to move me over from London, and then started the in-house branding team. I had the luxury of working alongside Phillip for six years and helped craft the vision of that brand. I really learned fashion on the job. Before that, I was in the magazine industry.


Beyond a more balanced lifestyle, what motivates you to stay here in Australia?

My idea behind ikigai is to use my background, creativity, and connections to elevate my community - Perth, Western Australia, Australia. I can empathise with those of you in fashion retail at the moment. I know it's a tough time. We were in the same position all through 2020 during the pandemic in America. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and retail did come back stronger. The brands who took time to re-evaluate the messaging and efficiencies of their business seem to be coming out stronger. I want to work with Australian brands and help them scale and represent Australia in the best way possible.


We're very lucky to have you back on Australian soil! What do you think modern customers are looking for from brands?

Globally, modern customers are overwhelmed by choice. The things I've seen in the states and certainly here in Australia that have resonated with customers is when they find that emotional connection. That emotional connection is built with brands that stand for something. For example, a brand like Patagonia is very clear about what they stand for, such as their emphasis on sustainability, and they put this cause before profit. When you choose another brand that isn't communicating their brand purpose as well, they can't stand up to Patagonia.


Why is brand purpose important?

Firstly, brand purpose is important for self-motivation, to drive yourself and your team towards a cause larger than profit. And secondly, smart consumers need an emotional connection with your brand beyond the product and a logo. I find that with the brands I work with, we need to define that brand purpose so that it's a clear message to the customer.


What steps can brands take to create authentic messaging around their brand purpose?

Defining an authentic brand purpose beyond making a product starts with leaders asking themselves, "why do we exist?" and inspiring alignment from everyone in the team. You need to hire smart people that authentically align with your purpose. Every team member needs to live and breathe your purpose authentically. This will then transfer outwards to the customer. Finally, you also need to think about how you are communicating your purpose to your customer. Keep messaging simple. Maintain confidence in what you stand for. Try not to lose sight of the bigger picture in pursuit of short term profit.


“Finally, you also need to think about how you are communicating your purpose to your customer. Keep messaging simple. Maintain confidence in what you stand for. Try not to lose sight of the bigger picture in pursuit of short term profit.”


Who are some brands doing it right?

We talked about Patagonia. Other brands who are doing well out of this cause - I would say Stella McCartney. They have very clear messaging. Tesla, for instance, are doing very well. It's clear to the world what this company stands for, love them or hate them. It's almost like the cult of Tesla.


You worked with MoMA and The Lourve with Uniqlo. How does the art world differ from fashion?

The brand purpose of Uniqlo is to make quality clothing democratic. The tagline was 'made for all', which is intended to infiltrate all our communication. Working with MOMA and Louvre was an idea to democratise art. In a sense, it's just a different creative expression but making it more accessible to a public who may see it as intimidating. In terms of how the art world works, they have freedom of expression, but fashion needs more of a purpose. It needs to be driven towards more of a consumer need.


What role do you think brick and mortar stores play today?

I think it's still important. Clothing, there's such a tactility to it. The fabric, details, you can try to capture as much as possible. You talk about the emotional connection to the customer. Of course, you can get that at some level through digital, but that emotional connection comes through human contact. How you're greeted by store staff, how it smells, how they talk to you and explain their knowledge of clothes with the touch of the fabric - you can see the craftsmanship that goes into it better in the store. I think it's a balance. A lot of people say that brick and mortar is on the way out, but I think it's just a matter of finding that balance and what works for whatever you produce.


What does the future of the industry look like to you?

For me, my hope, I think we produce way too many products right now. I hope we become more efficient and more measured in our quantities and the way that we produce. I know personally, out of the pandemic, I am approaching life with a less is more, and better quality is more mindset. I hope we're not so driven by this relentless pursuit of the new in fashion and that we choose more investment pieces that are timeless. I know that fashion is driven by the seasons, but I do hope that some change can come. The pace is too relentless right now. And I hope we can find a way to slow down and take a more measured approach to fashion.


Around the east coast of Australia, there are all these snap shutdowns. Was this the case in the US? And what can we learn from that in order to safeguard our retail spaces and our retail sector?

I was in New York, and I was also working with markets around the world. New York was shut down for pretty much March through to July and then started to scale their store hours up slowly. I understand that on the East Coast, it's challenging to plan. We didn't have that experience in New York. It was a flat shutdown, and once stores were given the green light to reopen, they were able to remain open. Once they opened again, retail sales went through the roof for those who were able to weather the storm. Because consumers weren't able to spend their money, they went out in droves. We saw that in Asia too. In China, when the Hermes store reopened, it did a record first day, a couple of million. And the same went for Uniqlo there. Hopefully, it's the same in Australia, and the customers will all come back once it reopens. But with everything changing so rapidly, I understand how hard it is.


Was there anything you learned during the pandemic that Australian brands may be able to use to help support their businesses during lockdowns?

I would imagine people at home are more engaged with social media. I know I personally was engaging with brands and learning a lot of things about the industry when I wasn't able to go into the office. There is an opportunity to engage with more customers through thoughtful content and telling them different parts of your brand story. And it doesn't need to be a huge investment in creating content. You can do it very nimbly. I learned during the lockdown that a lot of the things that we were doing before, we can do a lot more efficiently, cost and speed wise. You don't need that full production we thought we did. We ironed out a lot of inefficiencies.


During your experiences working across the world, did you see the industry coming together to collaborate and support each other during the pandemic?

In New York, we didn't get government assistance. The US government do things their own way. Due to that lack of support, everyone had to band together. That kind of group, shared community mentality was something positive that came out of it. It was across all industries, in fashion and definitely in hospitality and restaurants, people were pulling together to keep each other motivated and support each other emotionally and with exposure to help with sales.


How can brands better engage their audience?

In the US, I'm seeing many brands engaging their customers and asking for their feedback on product. That consumer engagement, where the consumer feels like they are part of and have a voice in the brand, is incalculable. There is a brand in the US called glossier, owned by Emily Whyte, and she has been really good at speaking directly to the customer via socials to talk about what products people are missing. It really engages the consumer and makes them feel like they are part of the brand, and the brand becomes a living thing with back and forth communication.


How can we uplift the Australian fashion industry at this time?

Well, here we are now, people from all parts of our industry, coming together. We have, right now, a community of people sharing each other's content and making sure people are aware of each other's brands.


How can we uplift the Australian fashion industry at this time?

Well, here we are now, people from all parts of our industry, coming together. We have, right now, a community of people sharing each other's content and making sure people are aware of each other's brands.


Wave Photo by @ryanmurphystudio


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        In the lead-up to our #WeWearAustralia 2021 campaign launch, Showroom-X Founder Richard Poulson and seasoned creative visionary Ken Leung met to discuss brand purpose and the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’ or ‘reason for being’. Ken Leung has over 20 years of experience creating the visual language of global brands, including DKNY, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and is responsible for elevating Uniqlo to a global audience in his role as creative director.
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