What keeps creatives relevant in an industry that’s constantly evolving? Ezra Petronio has done it decade after decade by staying curious and riding the waves of technological and cultural change. In this episode, the Petronio Associates founder and creative director explains to Christopher Michael how he has been very intentional about the early adoption of digital innovation and media trends. He shares his journey as a magazine editor, photographer, and marketing visionary in New York and Paris, presenting a unique perspective on three decades of fashion and culture. Ezra and his team inspire trust by setting the stage for successful—very often highly experimental—collaborations by meeting clients (including renowned top luxury brands) where they are, with a commitment to communication and clarity. The episode wraps with thoughts on how the metaverse will likely impact the fashion industry and a compelling rundown of “what’s contemporary right now” for this thoughtful, multidisciplinary, and influential image maker.
Episode HighlightsEzra attributes his career’s longevity to several factors: The early adoption of artistic innovation and the awareness of the power of the written word—as a student and as the son of creatives; A nimble response to evolving technologies, from manual typography to an early Mac with (wait for it!) three fonts to today’s instant desktop publishing; Access to a series of mentors and branding experts over a period of exploration, apprenticeship, and youthful development.It was clear to Ezra early on that digital communication would become a significant influence, which is why he eagerly immersed himself in the technology and its platforms.Self Service is about stretching the bounds of what a magazine can be, including experimenting with a pandemic-inspired video format with huge commercial potential. Lessons learned in a fluid commercial and communications landscape: Fashion shows and presentations often fall flat visually online; More is not better when it comes to social media if it has no strategic vision; Engagement must now occur through numerous media channels; The pace (and quantity) of deliverables has quickened (and grown) exponentially. The most successful brand collaborations are experimental and symbiotic, and they leverage complementary skill sets to execute a common creative vision.The most successful campaigns invariably have: Clarity around the brand’s vision; Stakeholder alignment around executing that strategic mission.Defining Terms: Building a coherent brand message means identifying goals (whether artistic, profit-driven, or both), then deploying the right vehicle.Mindset is Key: Forward-thinking brands like Yves St. Laurent or Prada embrace surprise, but that’s not always the case. Innovation requires trust and fearlessness.What will the metaverse mean for the fashion industry? It is too soon to tell about the timeline for adoption or commercial prospects; however,t Web 3.0 will undoubtedly drive more digital consumption. It’s a time to be curious, experiment, and pay attention!What’s contemporary right now: Our ability to determine what brings us maximum joy; Radical engagement and change; Supporting the things we believe in, in any medium; Modulating social media use and interacting with live opportunities; Seeking purpose and passion; Maintaining a sense of humility and continuing to question ourselves.