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Fashion democracy

Former PhD student turns the fashion world around

A former student from Cambridge Judge Business School, who has recently launched an Internet fashion business giving talented designers the opportunity to showcase their work, has cited that his PhD played a major part in the development of his business idea.

Florian Ellsaesser established Front Row Society in Berlin last year as a platform for new designers to present their designs to an international audience with the chance to see their efforts go into production and earn directly from their sales. The concept is called ‘fashion democracy’ as consumers are able to vote for the submissions they think are on trend through the Front Row Society website, and the most popular designs are produced.

Having undertaken the PhD programme at Cambridge Judge Business School in 2007, in which he focused on causal inference in the social sciences, Florian believes that this gave him the tools he needed to enter the business world and had a huge influence on the direction he wanted his business to take. He commented:

There were a few things that gave me the idea to start Front Row Society; mainly to allow people to easily interact and collaborate through the Internet and enable us to grasp a better understanding of what customers really want, particularly when there is still a tendency for large labels to dictate the trend. I felt that it was time to turn the fashion industry around and give new designers and artists access to the audience in the ‘front row’.

Florian Ellsaesser

Florian Ellsaesser

I chose to complete the PhD programme at Cambridge Judge Business School, as I always wondered why theories in psychology, sociology and economics are so far apart in the way they are phrased and validated and for me the necessary conclusion was to study research methodology and casual inference. I believe there are few places so open to alternative views and where I could have studied such subjects.

In a way, I see what I am doing now as the real life application of the research I did on my PhD. For me, to start a business is the ultimate test for theories that are produced in a business school.”

Dr Jochen Runde, Director of the MBA programme at Cambridge Judge Business School, commented:

Florian’s PhD research was in the relatively abstruse areas of causal inference and causal explanation, and his story is a wonderful example of how quite theoretical work can pay dividends in a highly practical, entrepreneurial context.”