Interview by Adrenus Craton -- Photo by Fashion One

Recently, I had the great opportunity to interview an incredibly inspiring woman who is changing the face of fashion television, Ashley Jordan (CEO of Fashion One). Currently the CEO for both Bigfoot Entertainment and Fashion One Television Network, Ashley also sits on the board of directors for the Fashion One Foundation.

As a lover of all things creative, with admiration for individuals and designers that are changing the landscape of fashion with their philanthropy works, I was intrigued to learn of the amazing work done by Fashion One through their innovative global Fashion Television programs in this interview.

1. What has been your strongest inspiration towards Fashion One and the Fashion One Foundation?

We believe that fashion is for everyone and not just for a selected few. Fashion One brings fashion in all aspects of life and makes it more accessible and relatable to the general public. In addition to bringing the latest fashion, entertainment, and lifestyle programmes from around the world to our local audience, we continue to develop more local content to showcase more home-grown talents from around the world, giving them an opportunity to be known to a worldwide audience. Fashion One Foundation is set to give back to the community by creating awareness to the worldwide issues especially with those involving the environment and plights of women. With TV as a medium, we create programs empowering women in the industry and shows that embrace eco-fashion. The foundation also works hand in hand with other organizations and events in the fashion industry that share a similar cause.

2. Do you see room or a need in the fashion industry for more philanthropy and/or socially focused campaigns?

With media as an outlet, Fashion One Foundation continues to support and put into spotlight different non-profit fashion organizations who are actively invoking just causes. In utilizing our reach for further education and bringing awareness to key social issues of today, we have partnered with several organizations including the United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) in their efforts to raise funds for their Fashion Education and Charity Care Programs on their Annual Gala and International Fashion Benefit. During Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we supported Fashion Hope in bringing the issue of human trafficking to light by sponsoring the worldwide premiere of the feature film, The Girl With No Number, a hard-hitting drama about a young Vietnamese woman that falls victim to human trafficking, on the network.

Several fashion brands and designers today are establishing and supporting charities and foundations that give back to the community. There’s the Tory Burch Foundation and the Burberry Foundation that help women and young people realize their dreams and potentials; foundations focused on health care and research like The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention and MK Breast Cancer Research Foundation; and those that support communities like the Versace One Foundation (China) and Missoni’s Orphan Aid Africa. We are looking forward to work with these organizations that are in need of a venue for their voices to be heard.

Photo: courtesy of Fashion One Foundation

3. Being constantly immersed with "fashion in all aspects of life", have you developed any favorites (in fashion or in any aspects of life)?

Compared to other fashion networks, Fashion One does not limit itself to just runways and models. From music to travel, gastronomy to technology, in depth interviews and long-term fashion and entertainment news program, we reveal fashion in all aspects of life. Notable shows this year include:

Design Genius Season 2, a fashion-packed reality series where 9 of the best designers from around the world compete for a chance to win $20,000. Faced with unconventional items as mandatory materials, designers will have to be flexible, inventive and creative in order to make the unimaginable, fashionable. In the end, only one will be crowned, “The Design Genius.”

Fashion On A Plate, a 6-part series about learning the art of making food fashionable featuring top chefs and restaurants from around the world utilizing their culinary skills with their interpretation of the term ‘fashion on a plate.’ From inception to presentation, have a look on how a simple ingredient gets turned into a work of art., a stylish travelogue series following UK fashion correspondent Stefanie Jones as she travels the world to cities rarely featured by other travel shows. From fashion, food, art, the people and everything in between, let this cheeky bubbly Brit take you to the hidden gems that are the locals' best-kept secrets. Travelled 6 destinations and counting!

Elite Model Look, a documentary series where we follow aspiring models as they are being casted and trained to become the new face Elite Model Agency. We will share their dreams and their journey through the different phases of the competition leading up to the Elite Model Look finale. The network has covered Elite Model Look Spain, Elite Model Look Morocco, Elite Model Look Colombia, Elite Model Look Mexico, and more.

Coming next year is the unique docu-series featuring alternative beauty treatments from around the world collectively rounded up in Bizarre Beauty. From face acupuncture to snake massages, this show is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

4. What was the most memorable fashion event you ever attended, and how did it influence you (if at all)?

It was a privilege for me to be invited to speak at the first World Fashion Forum, organized by the Global Millennium Foundation and the United Nations, joining other high profile panelists at the United Nations Headquarters on Women's International Day. This includes an impressive roster of strong women in fashion in the panel like Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, President & CEO SWW Creative, IMG Fashion Consultant and Inaugural Director of Fashion at Lincoln Center, and Pauline Brown, Chairman of LVMH North America.

The World Fashion Forum identifies how fashion's economic, social and cultural powers can be best positioned, focused and managed to alleviate the world's most critical needs. The goal is to instigate communication and mutual collaboration between leaders of the fashion industry and the United Nations so that fashion's resource and humanitarian efforts can be optimized and directed toward positive and sustainable change in the lives of those in need.

The fashion industry acknowledges the social responsibility of bringing awareness to global issues through the power of their brands. Fashion One plans to spotlight these issues through programming that connects audiences to the part of the fashion industry looking to 'give-back'. Audiences want to be inspired and motivated, and Fashion One, together with the Fashion One Foundation, want to be a part of this movement to voice and capture the stories of models, designers and brands looking to bring about economic and social change.

5. In recent past, you teamed up with Elite Model Look w/Fashion One exclusively covering Elite Model Look Spain. What influences your decisions to now bring it to places like Morocco, Mexico, and Colombia?

Fashion One embraces fashion and its diverse facets in different cultures. When we premiered Elite Model Look Spain during the launch of our Spanish feed in Latin America, it received great reviews and was a success. This year, we have decided to bring in Elite Model Look Mexico and Elite Model Look Colombia in relation to our channel launch in both key cities, and we are looking forward into launching in more cities in the region. With the continued growth of Pay TV (from 56% in 2013 to almost 60% household penetration this year, Statista 2014) and Digital TV (84% penetration of households by 2020 with 25% average growth rate, Forbes 2014) in Latin America, the region’s television industry is very promising for a multi-media channel such as Fashion One.

Inline with the network’s focus on localization of programs, we continue to showcase the EML franchise from other countries including Morocco, one of the rising economic powerhouses in North Africa. With Elite Model Look, being one of the biggest exponents and professionals in the fashion industry, we look forward in continuing the business alliance with Elite and bring the format into new nations, reaffirming the commitment of the television network in promoting emerging talents and giving our audience an exclusive access on what goes on behind the industry.

6. It is amazing to see / read how you are able to produce all of your own original content. What else is it that sets Fashion One apart from other fashion television networks, particularly FashionTV? And is it something Fashion One is frequently compared to?

When you think of fashion as it pertains to television, it should not be limited to just runway and models. You can find fashion, trends and style everywhere. From photography, street style and beauty tips, to designer retrospectives and the latest celebrity trends, Fashion One reveals fashion in all aspects of life.

We have created a global, fashion-forward channel that is for women and trendsetters all over the world that love fashion and all that it embodies. We are creating programming that’s engaging and captivating. It is the ONE channel that dedicated to fashion, entertainment and lifestyle 24x7 in crystal clear HD quality.

With our production teams from all over the world and our very own production studio, we are able to create our original programmes. We have content providers producing content in almost every country and have started to localize, producing shows in local languages for our local audience. On top of that, by having full rights to all content, this gives our cable operator partners more value and flexibility to offer more engaging products through different vehicles and services in this modern and digital era.

By producing all content with 100% rights by Fashion One, the network is already prepared to create its own mobile, online, and VOD channels, accessing its library of unique programmes about fashion, entertainment and lifestyle

Photos: courtesy of Fashion One International Academy of Film & Television

7. One of the things I find most interesting, besides your philanthropic efforts, is your commitment to promoting emerging talent (even along side some of the biggest names such as Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada). What is your goal with this, and why have you been so supportive of it?

Every big name has to start from somewhere. There are so much great talents from around the world that have remained unrecognized be it because of financial or geographical constraints or just being overlooked by other media preferring more on the known names. We want to give the opportunity for these emerging designers, models, talents, and brands to be presented in an international platform. Knowing that someday these people would eventually make a name for themselves and it would be an honour to know that Fashion One was an integral part of their journey.

As part of the network’s investment in developing the industry through localization of our programs, we feature stories that are more relatable to the local audience. We create engaging and captivating programmes that showcase up and coming local designers made available in the region’s own language. We currently operate a total of 14 feeds, available in 5 different languages, and we are now one of the fastest growing networks and leading fashion, entertainment and lifestyle channels in the world.

8. From the beginning, was it your intention to appeal to more of the female audience or has this been something that has developed on its own?

Women love fashion and comparing with what other fashion channel is working on,Fashion One is a channel that can deliver so much more than what we’ve expected from a fashion channel up until this point. We sometimes get comments about fashion being “niche”. Someone recently told me: “Fashion is sports for women” and I fully agree with that statement. I wonder if there was a point that sports was once considered “niche’ until they realized how to produce it properly and make the element of watching from the home as entertaining as watching from the arena. We plan to do that here with fashion.

9. How do you see yourself evolving the fashion industry by 2020? (Particularly in Africa, Asia, Europe, Russia and US)

We are becoming more conscious about sustainable fashion and there is a new trend toward unknown and emerging designers instead of only known brands. For example, South Africa and Kenya have some amazing artisans creating unique designs and outlook. With our efforts on localization, we will be the premier network who will be bringing these local designers and events such as South Africa Fashion Week into the international arena.

We have witnessed fashion merging with technology, from Diane Von Furstenberg who collaborated with Google Glass ​to Marc by Marc Jacobs working on smart earrings and bracelet. Angela Ahrendts, ex Burberry CEO, is now working with Apple, she was the one thinking on the fashion side and marketing strategy of the Apple Watch. In two years so many things have changed. Imagine in 5 years! These are the kinds of milestones that the network continues to pursue and we continue to involve with the changing times.

In the television industry, 2020 Media Futures forecasts the “rise of hybrid technologies such as internet TV, portable video and mobile TV,” creating new possibilities to modify and extend new media platforms. Fashion One is already equipped to take on these changes. By having full rights to all content, we could give our cable operator partners more value and flexibility to offer more engaging products through different vehicles and services in this modern and digital era.

10. What keeps you up at night when everyone else is asleep?

The millions of emails that I don’t have time to get back to.

11. And finally, as you travel from country to country, how would you define success?

Success is the ability to break the barriers of the industry and achieving more than what is expected and Fashion One is doing this.

For a television network that’s only 4 years old, Fashion One has been hailed as one of the Fastest Growing Network by CSTB, and the network still continues to expand in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Europe, Latin and Central America and will soon conquer North America. This year alone, we have successfully launched in more than 15 platforms all over the world including France, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Singapore and Hong Kong. This is a feat in itself that makes the constant travelling and jet lags all worth it.

We have started breaking the hurdle of the public’s perception that fashion is limited to designer clothes and models on the runway. We are slowly changing this thought by revealing fashion all aspects of life through our shows. We are making fashion accessible to everyone, be it from the streets of Taiwan or catwalks in Paris. As we continue entertain our audience and strive to make a difference in the industry, we have one goal in mind - to become the number ONE channel for fashion, lifestyle and entertainment – and we are getting there.

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