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Meet the sponsor: Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer, WGSN

30 June 2015 by Sarah Waldron in Fashion, Home, Interiors & Auto, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

WGSN Global Chief Content Officer Carla Buzasi is in charge of the world’s leading fashion trends service. Sarah Waldron asked her about WGSN’s links with education and young designers.

WGSN, a foundation sponsor of Texprint, changed the fashion trends world forever back in 1998 when it launched its online service on the back of the first dot.com boom.

Founded in London, the service tapped into the growing demand from fashion retailers for trend information, not least because of the rapid growth of so-called ‘fast fashion’, driven by Spanish retailer Zara.

Right from the beginning, WGSN understood that to build its market in the long-term, it needed to develop strong links with education. A time-delayed version of its website was created especially for students. Later, the full professional website was made available to universities too.

Carla with WGSN team members

Texprint alumni have benefited from recognition from WGSN. Alumna Emma J Shipleyis a past winner of the WGSN Graduate Fashion Week Emerging Brand award, while other Texprint designers, including jewellery maker Lily Kamper, have also been nominated in the same category.

The WGSN link with Texprint has been long-term, with Helen Palmer, WGSN Director of Knitwear, Materials & Textiles, a regular interviewer on Texprint panels, helping us to search out the next generation of design talent. Another key Texprint supporter is Catriona McNab, Chief Creative Officer, who heads WGSN’s trends team.

WGSN has established a strong tradition of identifying design and journalistic talent at universities in the UK and elsewhere as it has built its content team into the dominant force it is today in fashion trends. Now part of Top Right Group, WGSN includes a growing emphasis on retail analytics as well as continuing to support fashion companies in the creative process of developing on-trend designs.

Carla Buzasi joined WGSN in 2014 in the newly created role of Global Chief Content Officer. She made her name by launching the UK version of The Huffington Post news site and growing it rapidly to 8 million monthly unique users. She is also a former editor of Marie Claire online and former deputy editor of Condé Nast’s Glamour.com.

How does WGSN work with universities?

It’s very much about sending our experts out to give advice, to mentor and help with the different colleges and universities. We also encourage students, we run competitions for them to send in their designs, and we feature them on the site in the fashion section. So, it's a two-way relationship. We go in, we help, we mentor, we support, then we give them a platform to showcase their designs.

My team directors go to lots of universities and colleges. I've got guest lecturers within my team, people who go out on an ad hoc basis. We run internships. We often supply free subscriptions to students as well, so they get access to all of the expertise that big brands are paying lots of money for.

It’s really important to me that I've got a stream of young talent coming into the business. I think that internships are really important – that's been important to me throughout my career, it’s the best way that we can do it. But [it’s also about] inviting people to the presentations that we do, inviting people to listen to our experts and learn really valuable information that will help them, whether they’re at a student stage or whether they’re just starting out in their career.

Does WGSN recruit direct from design courses for its own staff?

We don’t go out to recruit directly from design courses, but we do have people come directly to us. They've usually gone and had a few work placements. We have a whole range of different skillsets within the team. Most of the people we employ have been at design houses, but we're also not just hiring designers. We've got analysts, we've got journalists, we've got editors.

There isn’t one path into WGSN, because we're looking for such different skills across all different directories – all the different areas that we catch.

WGSN has always had strong links with education. Has that been important to its success – and why?

I think young graduates coming out of our fashion colleges and universities need as much support as they can get – especially on the business and commercial side. That's where Texprint feeds in. But as an organisation in this industry, it’s our responsibility as well to encourage and nurture new talent, and that's where our partnership with Texprint comes into play.

It does benefit us. It's a way of talking about what we do, it's a way of talking about what’s important to us. I think the fashion world is a really large world, but it’s a really small one as well. If we are helping in any way to bring new talent through, then that is going to benefit us in the future.

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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