Marion Hume talks about the Bespoke Summit, Australian fashion and Coco Rocha


The first Bespoke Summit is set to kick off this Thursday May 16th from the Sydney Opera House and if you haven’t heard about it enough already, it is set to bring together some of the business of fashion’s biggest names, from Coco Rocha and Mr Porter’s Jeremy Langmead to James Packer and Sass & Bide’s David Briskin. Pulled together by a team headed up by Marion Hume, esteemed fashion journalist (though you may know her best as someone who once helmed Vogue Australia), with the aim to bring a reputable fashion business event to our shores – and not just one that brings big names but not enough substance.

We managed to get a few moments of Hume’s to chat about Bespoke to chat about the who, what and why of the event.

Why did you feel it was time to run a summit like Bespoke in Australia?

Sydney’s ready. Over the past decade, we have seen Sydney grew into one of the world’s luxury destinations. Bespoke will cast light on who is coming here to shop and also -especially due to e-commerce – how our shopping habits have changed.

Also, Australia is the world’s great luxury source – the finest elements of the global luxury world – pearls, diamonds, wool, gold – hail from here and are brought to the world market under fair conditions. It is time to celebrate that.

And what better time to be at the Sydney Opera House than in its 40th anniversary year?

Bespoke is truly unprecedented – the first ever fashion summit to be held at a UNESCO world heritage listed icon.

When it came to choosing speakers for Bespoke, how did you go about choosing speakers?

Firstly, I felt they had to have something to offer the audience beyond just standing up and saying “I helm this big brand”. They had to have messages to share. So Jeremy Langmead of Mr Porter will be great because no nation on earth has been changed more by e-commerce than Australia. Even if you are one of the last not to click and buy, this sweeping trend has an impact on you.

The Saturday Surf NYC trio can maybe teach us a thing or two! In this city of surf, a really great surf brand has not emerged for a while. Who expected it would come out of Manhattan instead?

Some speakers were chosen because they will dazzle. Ramdane Touhami may not be a household name, but just wait until he is on stage!

What are some of the sessions that you think Australian fashion businesses could learn from the most?

Regina Lam and Lisa Chang will be offering a practical session on how to take niche brands into the world’s leading luxury market; China. This will be up-to-the-minute, helpful advice from true experts. It’s not about China 5 years ago, 2 years ago. It’s about China now.

The session with David Briskin, CEO of Sass & Bide, promises to be surprising. David is one of the most successful businessman in our fashion sphere and yet he will be taking part in a session focused on making fashion more fair.

He will be joined by the United Nations’ ITC, Simone Cipriani, who has travelled from the UN in Geneva to talk about the global Ethical Fashion Initiative, which works with the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney and Sass & Bide to make fashion that respects people, profit and planet.

Who are you looking forward to speaking at Bespoke the most?

Digital supermodel, Coco Rocha because I have so much to learn from her. I’m not of the digital native generation and the way she controls her huge career via a presence on twitter and instragram and all those social media networks you know so much better than I do is fascinating to me.

With Australia being so far away from the rest of the world, we can be seen as being behind or quick to adapt (i.e. adapting new trends into our A/W fashions), what are your thoughts from a fashion design and business/marketing stand point?

We’ve always been plugged into the whole wide world – we’ve had to be, being based in an island continent that is so far away from the centres of fashion. We’ve always sought out information. That has proved to be an enormous advantage in the 21st century where physical proximity no longer matters.

It’s true this was, in fashion terms, a place where copyists used to get away with it. Not only has that changed, it has become a place of innovation

I love that you have such an affordable student rate, why was it important for you to have students attend Bespoke?

I was always passionate that the next gen be able to attend Bespoke and would want to do so. And it’s nice to be right – because about 400 students will be joining us on Thursday.

For me in terms of my role at The Australian Financial Review, this was not about saying “we want to lure you in and turn you into our readers” because the core AFR reader is a business titan, an entrepreneur and unlikely to be student age. It was about saying; “you plan to enter the fashion business and it is a business. Just letting you know, the AFR is out there and one day, maybe ten years into your working life, it’s what you should be reading”.

Beyond that of course, this is about shared values – at Bespoke, we’ve pulled together something that should be informative and enjoyable to many diverse people. I want people to leave at the end of that day inspired and fascinated.

Thanks for your time Marion.

Tickets to Bespoke are still available from If you can’t make it on the day, follow Bespoke’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date on what is being discussed.