Interview with Mr Frank Bober

Face2Face
Mr Frank Bober
Mr Frank Bober
CEO
STYLESIGHT
STYLESIGHT

STYLESIGHT is a provider of trend forecasting and product development tools for creative professionals in the fashion and style industries. With Stylesight, designers, manufacturers, and retailers will have access to the latest fashion data and images, which can then be used in advertising campaigns, design plans, and merchandise displays. STYLESIGHT is the brainchild of apparel industry veteran Mr Frank Bober. A native New Yorker, he has spent his career in the apparel business working both as a successful designer and manufacturer. He has become a technological pioneer, applying the latest advancements of new software solutions to the trend forecasting, product development, merchandising, and design cycle. Answering a long ignored call from the industry for a faster and more effective approach to the process of product inspiration and development, Mr Bober founded STYLESIGHT in 2003. Mr Bober's career began in the 1960's as a menswear designer with a collection under his name. He held senior executive positions at Arthur Richards and Polo before starting his own company in the private label arena. For more than 15 years he designed and manufactured men's and women's apparel. He founded CMT Enterprises in 1979, pioneering a then new private label concept of apparel design and product development by working hand in hand with major retailers to develop their own private brands. CMT was designing and producing private brands for many of America's top retail companies. He sold CMT Enterprises in 2000 after a prosperous 21 years. Mr Bober is once again in the forefront of another paradigm shift in the industry with the emergence of STYLESIGHT as the leader in web-based product inspiration and development tools. Speaking with Ms Madhu Soni- Sr Editor & Correspondent, Face2Face, Mr Frank Bober brings out more about Fashion and Lifestyle sector worldwide.

Mr Bober, your career began in 1960's in fashion field. What different forms has fashion world manifested during this span in your notice?

The fashion world has totally changed from the 60’s forward. In fact it truly began to change in the mid to late 60’s and has been on a fast pace ever since. The baby boomers began the major change in fashion from the conservative 50’s and the fast pace of change in so many things from technology to fashion created today’s fashion world.

I can think of two major changes over any others that stand out in my mind. One was the beginning of private label as a business model whereby the retailer began to bypass conventional dynamics and form and began to make their own labeled merchandise. This was in the mid to late 70’s and standouts that lead this change in the US were Limited Stores and Gap. This new way of the retailer becoming its own manufacturer encouraged others to follow suit and also encouraged manufacturers to become retailers. A standout example of this is Polo/Ralph Lauren whose roots were in wholesale and today derives most of its revenue from its retail operations worldwide. The major change therefore was a blurring of the lines between manufacturer and retailer whereby each began to do both.

The second major standout with respect to change was, and is, the speed to market techniques employed by such companies as Zara (Inditex), H&M, Topshop and many others around the globe. This fast fashion dynamic has had a major impact on the design cycle, raw material suppliers, factories and the entire supply chain. Stylesight, by being web based helps to provide a creative solution on the web and thereby enhances the fast fashion approach to design.

There have been many changes in fashion from the 60’s to today but these two truly changed the fashion world.

You have held senior executive positions at brands like Arthur Richards and Polo before starting your own company in the private label arena. Would you like to share about the impressions and values or strategies that you inherit there on to be implied to cultivate corporate success later?

Arthur Richards was primarily a menswear company although they did have a women’s division and in menswear, private label was far more prevalent than in women’s wear. From my men’s background I saw that many of the techniques applied to the private label sector of menswear could be very well applied to the women’s business. This understanding and experience was a great help to me when I began my company, CMT Enterprises in 1978. CMT was one of the original private label suppliers to many of America’s retailers.

Although I wasn’t at Polo for very long, the lesson learned from my friend Ralph Lauren was integrity and commitment to one’s vision no matter what anyone else thought or the temptation to be dragged into a fad. No one has done that better than Ralph and working with him was a great help to me later in my career. Stylesight dances to its own tune and Ralph was an influence on me by showing what can be done when one sticks to their ideas even in the face of adversity.

So how would you draw parallel picture on profitability of Private Label to Big Ticket Brands in present times?

As I mentioned in my first response, the maturation of the private label sector combined with retailers manufacturing their own merchandise and manufacturers opening their own retail stores has completely blurred the lines of an industry that prior to the 70’s was rather structured. Hence, the profitability of private label versus big ticket brands is truly no longer an issue.

Is Fashion & Lifestyle sector at its best today?

I think it is and it’s getting even more interesting and innovative. Technology is the game changer now with business to consumer paying attention to social networking opportunities and the internet in general. Fashion is at its best because people are more aware due to the proliferation of the internet. There’s more fun, there’s more awareness and therefore much more opportunity to create interest by the consumer. We see this all over the world today.

In the business to business arena, we, Stylesight, are leading the way by using content combined with world class technology to enhance and enable the creative process and truly provide a creative solution. In this arena, designers can have more fun, be far more creative by being able to see the world quickly and effectively through their screens and move the information downstream into highly creative product in a very speedy manner. This is why fashion is at its best today.

Published on: 16/08/2010

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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