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Q&A: Fay Cowan previews ‘Stylus presents Decoded Future’

Event director Fay Cowan talks us through what ‘Stylus presents Decoded Future’ attendees can expect when it debuts in London in June.

This summer, we’ll be launching a brand-new event series: ‘Stylus presents Decoded Future’ – the natural successor to our Innovation Forums. This much larger summit – which features everything from start-up battles to immersive tech – promises to be more dynamic, interactive and hands-on.

Programming and event director Fay Cowan talks us through what summit attendees can expect when it debuts at London’s Tobacco Dock on June 26.

So Fay, if you could sum up ‘Stylus presents Decoded Future’ in one or two sentences…

“We want to help you reinvent the way you create, and to make you aware of the opportunities that change presents. It’s all too easy to get lost in the daily grind; this event gives you the chance to look beyond your industry towards a more creative, collaborative and sustainable future.”

Who’s the event aimed at?

“People interested in innovation, people wanting some creative inspiration – but above all, people who are open to change. If they’re willing to open themselves up, they’ll make new connections, collaborate and have the chance to go on and achieve great things.”

Your goal, according to the tagline, is to “empower change-makers”. How so?

“We need to take charge of our futures, so this event is about putting power back into the hands of the change-makers. We’ll put them in a position to action the new ideas they come across, and to cultivate new partnerships.

“This will be partly achieved by the summit’s cross-industry outlook. People get jobs at Burberry and go on to work for Nike, then Apple, then Ford. Having content that reflects this stops us being blinkered by a single-industry mindset.”

The event is broken down into three streams: Experience & Lifestyle, Beauty & Wellness and Fashion & Luxury. Tell us more about them…

“The aim of these is to give people a new perspective on their industry. You can of course mix between the different streams, but the agenda is so good that you might need to bring down more people so you don’t miss anything!

“There’s also going to be lots of bonus content, like small talks that give niche topics a platform. So there’ll be an element of discovery – you’ll find new things that maybe you thought wouldn’t be relevant, but actually spark new ideas.”

The panel discussions cover everything from practical applications of AI to the evolution of the consumer. Are they going to be quite fiery?

“Yeah, we love a bit of fieriness! It’s boring if everyone agrees, right? We want some conflict – I mean, it tends to be that most people are trying to solve the same challenges and problems, but they’re doing it in different ways. So it’s nice to see that passion on stage.”

How many speakers do you have lined up?

“Wah Nails’ founder Sharmadean Reid MBE, Space10 founder and director Carla Cammilla Hjort, and L’Oréal Men Expert’s Tom Stone – in addition to four trend experts from Stylus – are among those already confirmed.

“By the time June comes around, we’ll have more than 60 on the agenda. Not all will be from big brands – some will be people we’ve unearthed who are about to impact their industry.”

Will tech be a big deal at the event? 

“Yes. Brands will be there not only demoing their products, but explaining how to put them into action. We’re actually going to have lots of surprise features that we’ll be announcing over the next few months, so watch this space.”

Tell us a bit about the pitch platform for start-ups…

“We’ll be launching our Future 15 at the event – so 15 emerging start-ups, founded in the last three years, that are doing the most exciting things in fashion and beauty, travel and tourism, wellness, and experience and lifestyle.

“They’ll each have seven minutes to pitch and to make an impression. They have to be new, and they have to be doing something we really believe in. We’ll be unveiling who they are in the coming months.”

What are you most looking forward to?

“The fact that we’re creating an event with meaning, which will evolve year-to-year with the pace of the industries we cover. I think it’s important to remember that, in the digital world, you can’t replace the live experience and that sense of interactivity.”

Stylus members should speak with their client services manager about accessing ‘Stylus presents Decoded Future’ tickets. Non-members can access early bird tickets until April 20.