BEtoSEE: be the change you want to see in fashion. This is one of the claims of BEtoSEE, the new pretail fashion platform, and new venture of Michael Hadida, ex CEO of Tranoï, one of the most prestigious fashion salons of Paris. Michael, a close friend of Diane Pernet, said to an interview published in her blog, he would change the world of fashion with this new tool. On my last trip to the City of Light I contacted him and asked how he intended to carry it out. The first thing he cleared to me is that BEtoSEE is not intended to be a revolution but a natural evolution of the fashion system, ruled by the tyranny of Fashion Weeks.
The origins of Fashion Shows can be found in the Paris of the nineteenth century. They were almost secret and only attended by a select group of sellers and buyers. Photographers and reporters were not allowed to enter during the early decades for fear of being copied by pirates of fashion. One of the most famous was the American designer, Elizabeth Hawes, who traveled to France to work with Chanel and Patou, and stole many of the designs in order to reproduce it in United States. This type of action and the harsh occupation of France by Germany in 1940 blocked access to Parisian couture. Both circumstances favored the American replacing France as the new center of fashion. Since 1970, the designers began to organize their own parades. From then industry shows rigidly trends in two seasons a year. Anna Wintour already said to aspiring designers and students at Central Saint Martins few months ago: “Please listen to me when I say: an interesting creative presentation is just as effective as a fashion show. I see people, who are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for fashion shows, which I simply don’t think is necessary.” Therefore new ways to promote fashion as the Fashion Films, pop up or theatrical dramas are sought. Clearly the system gives signs of exhaustion and Michael Hadida is proposed to change the game.
BEtoSEE appears defined on the ASVOF website as “the newest version of fashion networking but where, most importantly, transactions can take place. It enables contact to be established and then maintained between designers, buyers and press throughout the year (…) there are around 3.000 designers in Paris during fashion week, and 20.000 stores. Buyers cannot possibly see everything and it can be very hard to follow up.” As he told me, “it is a way to democratize fashion. Not only because it facilitates access to everyone but because it allows the final consumer to influence in the production process”. If pretail exists, then production exists. Moreover, BEtoSEE pays more to the designer than a store and sells for less than an intermediary. These margins are benefiting the end consumer, who can purchase the items at a more affordable price.
BEtoSEE helps designers with communication, key to get the buyer through the media, bloggers and front row. Something that is natural for Hadida because, through his long career in the fashion world, contact with industry influencers is fluent and daily. Beyond the site and the app, it has its own magazine and it also offers the possibility of a shooting with his trusted team. BEtoSEE shows designs with a season in advance, allowing creators to benefit from an open dialogue with the public. Last September, the SS2015 collections were already uploaded on its website “and this has never been done so far”. At first, the designers rejected the idea, frightened at the prospect of being copied. But now “this is a fake problem because you can prove they were the first to hang this product”.
It could be that Paris takes again the reins and dictates the new forms and ways of doing fashion but this time with the lesson learned, fearless and challenging piracy.