To the Point With 2017 CAFA Vanguard Award Honouree Imran Amed

Business of Fashion founder Imran Amed

The Business of Fashion founder spoke to The Point about his successes, the state of retail and what it means to receive Canada’s most prestigious fashion honour.

Each year the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards honour a larger-than-life figure who has moved the fashion industry forward through innovative ideas, visionary work or sheer personality. This year, the recipient of the Hudson’s Bay Vanguard Award was Imran Amed, founder of the influential Business of Fashion blog. Amed started BoF ten years ago, and since then has grown the site from a blog for those in the know to a media company that employs fifty people between London and New York, that is practically required morning reading for fashion professionals.

You just received the CAFA Vanguard Award. How does it feel to be honoured in your home country of Canada?
It’s really special to come home. People often ask me about my ongoing connection with Canada and whether I still feel Canadian. I think I still sound Canadian. I think I still say “about” the Canadian way. Canada has been such a defining part of my identity and the way I grew up. It’s really informed my worldview and shaped me as a person, so to come home and be recognized in this way is very meaningful.

Do you have any fond memories of Hudson’s Bay from when you were growing up?
The closest Bay to me was at this place called South Centre Mall in the south part of Calgary. When you grow up in the Canadian suburbs, a lot of your spare time ends up happening in the mall, so my mall was South Centre Mall. It had a Bay, and that was where we did all our back-to-school shopping, and probably where I bought my first Ralph Lauren polo shirt.

If you could say anything to your younger self, just starting Business of Fashion in 2007, what would it be?
“Don’t worry.” I think I worried a lot. Everything works out.

What were your worries?
I didn’t know what I was going to do with my career. I didn’t know what my life was going to be like. I worked really hard. Things didn’t come naturally to me; I always had to work super hard to get the best grades, the right job. And I’m glad I worked hard because that sense of work ethic and discipline is something that’s still with me today. Nothing comes easy in life. Things take a long time. Often things are portrayed in the media as overnight successes and I’ve yet to meet anyone really successful who says they were successful overnight. It’s always a journey of really knowing yourself. I think if you can spend the time to really connect with the things that are of interest to you, and follow those things, follow your curiosity and not worry, then everything will work out. That’s how things ended up working out for me.

How do you view the role of department stores in the current retail landscape?
It’s a very challenging time for department stores. Back when I was fourteen years old going to South Centre Mall to do my back-to-school shopping, that was the only place you could go where you could get everything under one roof. The department store was the anchor of a shopping mall, because they were such important parts of the retail experience. Now, when you can pretty much get anything in an instant on your phone, department stores are challenged to give people a reason to come in. That requires creating experiences, purpose, service and community that makes people feel compelled to buy something in person as opposed to buying something on their phone. That’s a challenge that many department stores around the world are facing.

Do you own any Hudson’s Bay stripes?
I have a Point Blanket and it’s on my couch at home.


Photography by David Pike.