Fashion

New BFC chair David Pemsel shares future vision for London fashion


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David Pemsel, the co-founder and chief executive of Science Magic Inc and former Guardian Media Group CEO, has been named as the chair of the British Fashion Council.

In the role, Pemsel will support BFC chief executive Caroline Rush with the development and implementation of the non-profit organisation’s strategy, and with building British fashion’s global profile. He will also continue his responsibilities at Science Magic Inc, the global creative and strategic company that counts brands including Versace and Glossier as clients.

The executive says he sees his role as a conduit for change, and is focused on ensuring that the fashion industry is treated with as much importance as other “power” industries, such as service or manufacturing, by the British government.

High on his agenda: building bridges with other fashion industry governing bodies and cultural sectors, strengthening the BFC’s support within key pillars like technology, sustainability and diversity and inclusion (D&I), and reinforcing government support.

“The BFC has extraordinary convening power and an understanding of what the British fashion industry needs. I’m committed to making a positive contribution to the reputation and economic value of this incredible industry,” says Pemsel, who has been on the BFC’s executive board since 2016 as non-executive director.

Pemsel assumes the role from Stephanie Phair, founder of The Outnet and group president at Farfetch. Phair oversaw the BFC for nearly four and a half years, during which she helped to shape a more inclusive and sustainable industry, despite facing unprecedented challenges including pandemic shutdowns and Brexit. The BFC, which is funded by industry patrons, commercial sponsors, events and membership fees, while also receiving some funds from the UK government, saw its funding halve during this period. Prior to Phair, the role was held by Net- a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet.

Pemsel’s media background is a surprising turn for the BFC, who Pemsel says looked for candidates both from inside the fashion industry and from business-side backgrounds for the role. He sees it as an opportunity to boost fashion’s profile. “Rather than seeing music, film or advertising as all parts of a separate business, they are all ultimately part of one of the biggest and most culturally significant industries, which is the creative industry,” he says. “The fashion business contributes huge amounts economically as well as culturally to that. I want to make sure that fashion is seen as equal and as important to any other creative industry in the UK.”

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