Exclusive: Media Executive David Pemsel Named New BFC Chair

David Pemsel, CEO of communications agency ScienceMagic.Inc, has been appointed the new chairman of the British Fashion Council, effective immediately.

Pemsel, who already sits on BFC’s board as a non-executive director, succeeds Farfetch executive Stephanie Phair, who stepped down earlier this month after a four and a half year tenure.

Pemsel has a background in media, having worked as ITV’s group marketing director before serving in various senior roles at the Guardian Media Group, concluding with a four year stint as CEO. There, he drove a digital transformation and led the publishing group to its first operating profit in 25 years.

He is currently CEO of ScienceMagic.Inc, a communications agency he co-founded in 2020, as well as leading the company’s new digital assets venture, ScienceMagic.Studios, which supports brands with web3 projects like NFTs, social tokens.

As chairman of the BFC, Pemsel will work closely with chief executive Caroline Rush to steer the industry group as it enters the post-pandemic era.

Strategic priorities for the coming years will include raising awareness of British fashion more broadly, Pemsel said, in the hopes that both the government and British people a large will better recognise the industry’s soft power and influence. The coronavirus crisis and Brexit both pushed the UK government to evolve its relationship with the fashion industry, but there’s still work to be done, Pemsel says.

The fashion industry “creates culture, it employs a huge number of people, it makes a massive impact to the economic value of our country,” Pemsel told BoF. “We are part of the creative industries; we do sit alongside the power of our television industry, our music industry,” he said, adding that he plans to advocate for fashion to seen as equally significant.

Establishing best practices and shared benchmarks for progress on issues like sustainability and diversity and inclusion are also high on the agenda. Elsewhere, the BFC will continue its tradition of nurturing emerging design talent, as well as working to hasten digital innovation in the industry by exploring how brands can use technologies like web3, blockchain and the metaverse in their business.

“We’ve got to convene the industry to work together around making the biggest impact,” Pemsel said. “As soon as you get alignment with the BFC and what matters to the industry, that’s one plus one equals three.”

David hopes his experiences outside of fashion will bring a fresh perspective to the BFC.

“One could say, look, David, you’re an outsider, you don’t work for Burberry or you don’t work for Farfetch,” he said. “Hopefully, that’s described as a good thing, to bring a degree of objectivity to what I think needs to happen.”

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