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100 reasons to argue about fashion’s most influential people

One of the most intense meetings for the Drapers team every year is the six-hour marathon afternoon during which we debate and decide the Power List of the 100 most influential people in the fashion business.

Not only does it give us the opportunity to look back at the highs and lows over the past 12 months and analyse who has been the driving force behind the fashion business this year, but it also turns out to be one of the most difficult things to agree on. Everyone has a view, and nine times out of 10 they differ!

It is a testament to the fashion sector that we have such a hard time whittling down our list of the most influential to just 100, and so many great individuals narrowly failed to make the cut simply because there are others who have done more to affect the industry.

The list is intended as a snapshot of 2012, so just being successful doesn’t mean your place on it is assured. You need to have actively influenced the industry to make it into the 100 for 2012.

I am sure by now you have flicked through this year’s final selection and almost certainly both agreed and disagreed with some of our placings - we like a good debate at Drapers, so feel free to get in touch and give us your thoughts and indeed your own selections.

And apart from the rigorous debate, the other thing that the process of putting together the list allows us to appreciate is the sheer quality of the talent in the fashion business. I spoke recently at the Drapers Fashion Awards about the unfairness of the way fashion is often dismissed as being ‘frivolous’. You only have to look at this year’s Power List top 10 to realise the sector does in fact boast some of the UK’s, and actually the world’s, greatest business minds.

It is one of the most complex and diverse industries, and far from the ‘frivolous’ image many have of it, it is an incredibly difficult business to get right. To balance the creative side of fashion with the commercial is such a delicate process, and getting any tiny part of the equation wrong can lead to disaster.

Our most influential individual this year is Nick Robertson, the charismatic Asos boss who can rightly be credited with transforming the fashion business model since he launched the etail giant more than a decade ago. Robertson has not only driven incredible growth in his business but continually pushed the boundaries through constant innovation. He doesn’t dwell on his competitors’ actions but seems able to see beyond the horizon to predict his customers’ future needs with almost uncanny accuracy.

Where Robertson goes, many others follow, whether that be a new territory or new technology, which we felt made him a worthy Power List number one for 2012.

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