Management lessons from Fashion Week



Being interested in fashion since I was a kid, I often look forward to attending fashion week here in the Philippines and reading trend reports from other places such as those from Paris, Milan and London, as designers try to showcase new designs or add twists to existing ones with the intention of making things more relevant for the current times. My sisters would often hear me exhale “ooh, ah, and wow” while reading such reports as I imagine how I can incorporate the featured elements into my own wardrobe.

This time, however, that was not all that I got and that is not all my sisters (and the world) will hear from me.

As a management consultant and educator, I now also try to relate the things that I observe from the environment with concepts that I have learned or would want to share with others. And with the recent conclusion of Philippine Fashion Week, I was reminded of a few wise adages from the fashion world that are every bit just as important business management lessons that I would like to share as follows:

• Always check for “the fit”

Just as in fashion, where “the fit” can make or break “the look,” the fit of one particular strategy with the goals and needs of the organization can make or break the organization. As management consultants, we are often tempted to try the latest trends in terms of management strategies, from the concepts of decentralization, Management by Walking Around, and organizational downsizing of yesteryears to more recent innovations such as the Blue Ocean strategy and spirituality in the workplace. While these concepts have their own merits, it is very important for managers to check whether they will fit the organization’s needs or even culture.

• It’s all in “the details”

Ask any designer who knows his worth, and most likely you would hear him/her say this, “It’s all in the details.” While strategies may often be broad, the success of an undertaking depends on the details of the execution. That is what separates the stylish from the gaudy in the world of fashion as winners from the failures in the realm of business.

• Fads come and go, but classics are able to withstand “the test of time”

Fads, be they in fashion or in management, would simply come and go, and so when coming up with strategies or choosing between alternatives, it may be wise to check if the said strategy has a solid foundation from which it has been built on similar to those of the “classics.” As many stylists would say, “one can never go wrong with a classic.”

Funny isn’t it, what one can realize while watching models parade the latest designs on the catwalk. Now I have even more reasons to look forward to Fashion Week.

John Andrew See is a lecturer from the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University where he teaches Human Behavior in Organization. He may be contacted via e-mail at


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