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David Pemsel, co-founder and chief executive of Science Magic Inc and former CEO of Guardian Media Group, has been appointed as chairman of the British Fashion Council.
In this role, Pemsel will support BFC chief executive Caroline Rush with developing and implementing the not-for-profit organisation’s strategy and building the global profile of British fashion. He will also continue his responsibilities at Science Magic Inc, the global creative and strategy 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 the fashion industry is treated with the same importance as other “power” industries, such as service or manufacturing, by the British government.
High on his agenda: building bridges with other governing bodies of the fashion industry and cultural sectors, strengthening the BFC’s support within key pillars such as technology, sustainability and diversity and inclusion (D&I) and strengthening government support.
“The BFC has tremendous fundraising power and an understanding of what the British fashion industry needs. I am committed to making a positive contribution to the reputation and economic value of this extraordinary industry,” says Pemsel, who has been on the BFC’s executive board since 2016 as a non-executive director.
Pemsel takes over 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 shape a more inclusive and sustainable industry despite facing unprecedented challenges, including pandemic shutdowns and Brexit. The BFC, which is funded by industry clients, commercial sponsors, events and membership fees, while also receiving some funding 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, which Pemsel says sought candidates from both within the fashion industry and business for the role. He sees it as an opportunity to raise the profile of fashion. “Instead of seeing music, film or advertising as all parts of a separate business, they are all ultimately part of one of the largest and most important cultural industries, which is the creative industry,” he says. he. “The fashion business contributes huge amounts economically and culturally to this. I want to make sure that fashion is seen as equal and just as important to every other creative industry in the UK.”