How Heritage & The New Generation Drive Innovation

Ben Malka is leading speaker during the panel discussion, entitled “Into the Modern Zone: How Heritage & The New Generation Drive Innovation”.

Malka is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Halston, the American legacy fashion brand, a symbol of the highly decadent discotheque culture and pop fashion culture in the mid-1970’s. The iconic brand is also known for the Halston perfume which was sold in a bottle designed by Elsa Peretti and is considered to be second biggest selling perfume of all time, as well as the famous pillbox hat for Jackie Kennedy.

Now, with Malka leading the company and his vision incorporated in the Halston Heritage collection, it has become an approachable luxury lifestyle brand. Combining legacy codes with modern approach is what drives the brand forward into international markets. Listening to his straightforward, clever thought, one immediately notices, Malka is a very well-spoken and informative speaker, who draws the attention. The next step in Haslton’ s road to globalization, says Malka is entering the Middle East. The company will open in partnership with Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East and North Africa. Halston has also launched an e-commerce division, which is essential to the global expanding of the brand. According to him, online commerce and mobile technology are very important today. “There are brands who make 60% of their sales via mobile!”, says Malka, stressing on the huge impact of technology on revenues.

Malka is accompanied by two, young ladies, eager to join the conversation – Asil Attar, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Fashion and 23-year-old Ascia AKF, who is a blogger and designer of her own label Twenty.10. She says that heritage is very important. The clash between tradition and innovation is also challenging.  “My  father is my challenge. He doesn’t understand frivolity”. He, of course, comes from another time, he represents another culture, another generation.

Ben Malka continues with the idea that at younger age we have one dream, but a few years later, we realize we want to be something different, someone different. At young age I was not sure what I wanted to do and went to medical school.” At that time, he worked for a $17 billion company and didn’t even knew about Halston. At 23, Malka invented a shoe, and at 24, he was already a president of a well-known footwear company in New York. So, this is how life turns!

How do you see your brands evolving with the social media?

“You should stay true to your DNA. Stick to your identity. Remember who you are and project yourself in the way you want people to think about you.” According to Malka, the essence of some of the most popular American brands today come from Halston. Knowing the company’s history, we totally agree with that. He adds that they still intend to stay relevant to modern world.

Social media for Ascia has done wonderful job – she uses social media websites as a marketing tool and this has resulted in international following. So, how are they understanding success? “You need to understand what you are good at and stick to it. Listen to the consumers because they are telling what they want.” The other factor for being successful is the internet – “it is very accessible and you can learn from people’s comments. Innovation comes from taking risk”.

Ascia replies, “For Arab women, we still have the glass ceiling. For me to be empowered and educated, it is important in finding success.”

“You have to find your voice”, says Malka as an advice to young designers. “Success comes from understanding the mixing with art; really truly believing in what you are doing. Fashion sells and basic items keep it going. Meet art with science!”
“Don’t get stuck in the past and always reinvent your vision.” Ascia added “Keep yourself where you are not so much comfortable. Push yourself forward!”. Motivational, or what?

Speak Your Mind

%d bloggers like this: