21 novembre 2016

Luxury Fashion Brand Management: an online course by London College of Fashion

What's the best way of understanding how top international luxury fashion brands increase their trust and influence on new customers worldwide, with a long-term and strategic approach to business? For those who have never worked inside the sales, marketing or communication departments of the Gucci's and Versace's of the world, the best way would be to enroll in one of the many specialized master's degree programs in the top fashion capitals of the world, like Paris, Milan, London and New York or maybe even emerging cities like Shanghai, Singapore or Shenzhen. This individual commitment to the fashion and luxury industry typically carries a heavy financial burden on families, but from my modest experience (and also based on feedback of colleagues in education), nothing is better than receiving firsthand information directly and face-to-face from knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the management, retail or creative fields.

What about the smoothness of touching silk fabrics by Ratti, the smell and feel of real leather inside a Bottega Veneta store, trying on a jacket at the tail end of the brand experience in Moncler's fitting rooms, combining appropriate bags, shoes or sunglasses to a new Miu Miu outfit, seeing the colors of the season reflected on Lake Como, drinking an espresso at Pasticceria Marchesi above the Prada store in Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele or enjoying a piece of chocolate at the Bulgari Hotel? There's nothing like feeling the passion, warmth, strength and eye-to-eye contact in a real world environment, in the classroom or on the street.

But what if one can't manage to hop on a plane and spend minimum 12 months room and board to live and learn in one of those magnificent above cities? What if the desire to learn and experience the wonderful and hard-working luxury fashion industry outweighs any other possible solution? Well now, luckily, and thanks to advances in technology (and acceptance), there are alternatives for those living in far off places or having modest budgets. Or perhaps one is not sure yet whether to commit to the glossy world of Luxury Fashion. How does one carefully manage a niche Brand in the long-term and make it unique, desireable and exlusive? The result, an online course, beamed straight to your home, focused on the industry that you love or would love to love, could be the solution.

Quite frankly, at first, as I'm now accustomed to do, I was skeptical. Since I was hailing for the last 25 years from Milan and Italy, a touchy feely land of external looks and style, where any minimal mindset doubts are quickly overcome by a warm handshake or an emotional connection between people firsthand. What value was I to place on a course where my students were small bleeps on a screen and perhaps munching on Cheetos while multitasking on Twitter?

But I'm intrigued by Millenials, by GenZ, by China, by the power of Apple, by the Here Comes Everybody approach to marketing, and how companies need to continually evolve and stay transparent through an omnichannel experience, an ePresence, so I said: Yes, Let's Do It, let's become truly part of and connect with the new generations of future managers and creatives coming from Moldova, Bulgaria, Turkey, the Middle East, etc. and who knows where else. I'm curious and proud to share my inside fashion company experience, my international luxury project consulting advice and my streetside retail eyes and ears through electronic means with students, focusing on the direction the real world is taking us.

For more information, read my Interview with the London College of Fashion, the 6th rated Fashion School by Business of Fashion and see the details of my new online course sessions in Luxury Fashion Brand Management, starting from end-January 2017.

Stay connected, see you online! PGDS

21 ottobre 2015

Il Caso Kiton e il Consumatore Cinese del Lusso

Il marchio napoletano di moda maschile Kiton e il consumatore del lusso in Cina, segui questa interessante conversazione tenutosi durante la China Business Conference tra il CFO di Kiton Pierluigi Stampacchia e il Presidente della PGDS Consulting Piergiorgio Dal Santo.

All'interno interessanti spunti su come entrare nel mercato cinese, il comportamento del consumatore cinese, come meglio servire il consumatore cinese del lusso e quali sono le sfide più importanti che si affrontano in quello che sarà il più grande mercato del mondo.

02 ottobre 2015

31st IAF Convention, October 13th to 15th in Istanbul – Making it Better

October 13th to 15th the 31st IAF Convention will once again take place. This year, the IAF (International Apparel Federation) has chosen Istanbul as the location for its Convention in collaboration with the Turkish Clothing Manufacturing Association (TCMA) with the support of IHKIB, the Turkish Organization of Fashion Exporters. TCMA will combine its successful Istanbul Fashion Conference with the IAF Convention and this will assure a full house of the elite of the fashion Turkish industry.

The Chief Brand Officer of Hugo Boss, Christoph Auhagen, The European Production Manager of H&M, the COO of Ahlers (Baldessarini, Pierre Cardin), McKinsey and WGSN are some of the names from an impressive list of speakers that have become the norm for IAF Conventions.  

The theme of the 31st IAF Convention is Making it better. The IAF aims to build its Conventions around a positive vision on improvements made by the industry. Although on the one hand the fashion industry is coping with an image tarnished by continuous discounts and bad labor conditions, on the other hand we see a string of positive developments. Investments in sustainability, investments in innovative products and investments in a more efficient organization of the value chain that are strengthening the fashion industry today.

October 14th will be the conference day. The conference itself is subdivided into 17 sessions, including the introduction by the Turkish Minister of Trade, the keynote speech by Hugo Boss’s Mr. Auhagen, sessions on the supply chain and sourcing developments, CSR and sustainability, TTIP, trade policy, emerging brands and emerging markets. In the sustainability session IAF will again share excellent examples from the denim industry and the supply chain session will feature results from McKinsey’s by now famous CPO study on expectations of future sourcing trends.

Woven into the Conference is the Convention’s theme: Making it Better.  For the industry as a whole to really improve, new value must be added and old values must be implemented. Hugo Boss’s keynote speech will show how brand value can be maintained through a combination of very strong marketing and a passion for product quality and the courage to invest in the company’s own technical know-how.

The supply chain session is built around the slogan: not moving production, but improving production. Of course, the facing sourcing map is continuously changing and McKinsey’s CPO (Chief Procurement Officer) study will certainly show that new sourcing countries such as Myanmar and Ethiopia will continue to draw attention and investments. On the other hand, the delegates will hear about successful investments in software to make better connections between supply and demand. Delegates will also hear about successful forms of cooperation between brands and their manufacturing partners. How can manufacturers add value so that they can escape from the low price only trap and talk about net returns during negotiations with their clients? Do we actually see a growing attention to quality and the need for unique, local product knowledge? In addition, what does this mean for production in more expensive countries?

In the sustainability session, the panelists will debate the question how the total textile and fashion industrial chain can become, on average, a better employer with less negative impact on our environment. One wants to show that running a more effective business and more effective supply chain are necessary conditions for becoming a more sustainable business. Just having a good CSR and sustainability policy in isolation is probably not very useful. Making it better is obviously an integral concept!

In emerging economies, a growing local consumer market offers excellent chances for the local fashion industry to develop into brands and retailers. This strengthens the local industry as a whole. Also, a fast developing new economy offers excellent chances for brands from more mature economies and their entry too add to the professional level of the local industry. During the emerging brands and emerging markets session, we will show how local Turkish brands have developed into big retail chains. We will also learn from new entrepreneurs. How do they interact with manufacturers? What is the role of wearable technology?

The day of the Conference will be preceded in the evening of October 13th by a great gala dinner in the new Raffles Hotel in Istanbul. This dinner is actually also part of the Mercedes Benz Istanbul Fashion Week. The third day of the Convention, Thursday October 15th, will be devoted to an encounter with the Turkish fashion industry. Companies can sign up for a well-guided business to business program.

Istanbul forms an ideal setting for a Convention, carrying an optimistic message about the development of the fashion value chain. In Turkey, the industry has been at the forefront of investments in quality, speed and service. Beautiful Istanbul on the Bosphorus, clearly visible from the Convention hotel, the Hilton Bosphorus, is a great place to network with Turkish manufacturers, their representatives and the other delegates from over 20 countries in the world. IAF, TCMA and IHKIB welcome the global fashion business to share positive ideas about making it better in Istanbul this October.

30 gennaio 2015

State of the Italian Luxury Industry and Catering to the Chinese Traveler

Courtesy:  Fortune Character Magazine, China, January 2015 issue, pgs. 58-59.
Despite a long-running political and economic crisis with negative repercussions on consumer confidence, Italy’s luxury goods industry has largely escaped the fate of the other consumer goods categories. The Italian luxury industry continues to see positive performance thanks to the sustained demand of tourists visiting the country, increased investments in flagship store development and a strong local manufacturing base characterized by a myriad of small and medium-sized entities. These facts have fueled the positive (although slowing) growth rates of brands like Giorgio Armani, Prada, Brunello Cucinelli and Tod’s. The overall breadwinner in Italy turned out to be the worldwide market leader in middle and high-end eyewear, Luxottica, owner of Ray Ban and Oakley sunglasses, among numerous other fashion brand licenses.
Although most people think of Italy only in terms of fashion and leather goods, the food & beverage and design (furniture and fixtures) industries have continuously and creatively introduced new high-end products to the international marketplace. Companies such as Cappellini, Kartell, Boffi, Poliform and Natuzzi are continually creating and introducing the Italian style into homes around the world. The world’s most important furniture and design exposition continues to be the annual springtime fete Salone del Mobile, uniting the worldwide design community not only in the exhibition but throughout the entire city of Milan. Increased attention on behalf of the Italian government, thanks to the 2015 Expo to be held in Milan (following the 2010 edition in Shanghai) and having food and the environment as its key themes, have also increased the importance of the overall country’s luxury industry.

Made in Italy continues to be an important theme driving the growth of quality-oriented companies. In fact, entering what many call a “new normal” phase of international business, characterized by diminished growth rates, shifting exchange rates and political turmoil, many Italian luxury brands have been reacting more quickly to mature market demand shifts and reassessing strategies in explosive development markets like China. The most attentive and fast moving brands among the pack have insisted on back-shoring its production from China (and other Far East countries), preferring the craftsmanship and creativity, as well as the manufacturing costs, provided by Italian workers. At the same time, other SouthEast Asia markets like Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand, are representing the latest wave of growing incomes seeking out to buy the most luxurious of products.
A quick walk about the top tourist destinations of Milan, Rome, Florence and Venice sees continued growth in the number of Chinese visitors, but at the same time an insufficient know-how in the level of services provided for them by Italian retail establishments and services. Italian brands and their stores are still second rate compared to the service levels of London, Paris and Zurich, for example, with regards to user-friendliness, experience and efficiency. Chinese speaking salespeople are still a rarity at most Italian luxury brands in Via Montenapoleone in Milan and Via Condotti in Rome while Italians still need to get to know its Chinese clientele better. A quick stop into Italy’s top department store, La Rinascente, shows only the top French brands such as Dior and Louis Vuitton having Chinese speaking salespeople. Italy, in general, also needs to promote its various regions and territories to visit, while increasing its relationships with the main Chinese tour operators which manage the growing number of visitors to Europe. The Italian luxury tourism industry needs to work harder in order to provide more satisfaction nd serenity during the stay of Chinese visitors in Italy, even moreso now that the Russian consumers are practically non-existant.

One city that has welcomed Chinese visitors in a unified and structured manner is Venice. Having one of the best university programs for studying Mandarin Chinese and thanks to its long-time ties to the Orient, Venice is the perfect example of how culture, food and shopping all come together in a harmonious way, even to the Chinese. No wonder that LVMH owned DFS Group, the operator of duty-free shops, is planning to open its first mall in Europe inside Venice’s 13th century building called Fondaco dei Tedeschi. This building will house 8,000 square meters of retail space, enclosing LVMH’s house brands, but also local artisans and promoting local and international art culture through exhibitions. Scheduled to open in 2016, this historic building in the Rialto bridge area of Venice will house on the ground floor Italian and international fashion & accessories, the second floor men’s fashion & accessories plus watches & jewellery, while on the third floor there will be a high-end shoe salon (the first of its type in the city) and a broad fragrances & cosmetics offer.  The target audience for the Fondaco is considered to be “the world traveller”, and should not have a singular focus on Asian or specifically Chinese travelers because Venice is a melting pot of visiting nationalities, from Europeans to Americans to Asians and Middle East visitors. DFS Group is planning to add a few more outlets in Europe during 2016 and is looking at France, Italy and Switzerland.
But the city of Milan has not backed down to this challenge and capitalizing on Expo 2015, beginning on May 1, Mr. Giorgio Armani has been named special ambassador to the opening of the Universal Exhibition. He will organize a special runway show to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his company and on the same night will inaugurate its new Armani/Silos. This art exhibition space will be located in a former Nestlé factory, facing the fashion company’s headquarters on Milan’s Via Borgognone. Here Armani will install a permanent exhibition of his fashion and drawings, plus provide space for upcoming designers to showcase their creations.

Another intiative transforming the attractive style of Milan is the creation of a shopping street entirely dedicated to menswear.  Thus, to counter London’s Savile Row, famous for traditional menswear and bespoke tailoring, on January 17th Via Gesù in Milan will become the Via dell’Uomo (tr. Mens Street) and include brand flagship stores like Caruso, Brioni, Kiton, Luciano Barbera, Barba Napoli, Doriani Cashmere and Stefano Ricci. The project aims to promote the elegant street, home also to the headquarters of Versace and located right in the middle of the city’s fashion district, called Quadrilatero della Moda, as an unparalleled stopover for an international clientele of male shoppers. Shoemakers Barrett, Doucal’s and Silvano Lattanzi all sport flagship stores on the same street. In response, even top international fashion brands like Versace and Prada, better known by the general public for their womenswear collections and accessories, have joined the likes of Armani and Ermenegildo Zegna to increase their share of menswear sales.
Today’s definition of luxury has changed. There is an increased attention to individuals and their specific lives, as opposed to just hedonism and flaunting for the sake of appearance. People seek meaning to their lives and would like to find their reason for being in this complex and fast-paced world. Innovation, technology and design all help to make lives more meaningful, comfortable and simplified. Today’s Italian luxury brands are beginning to provide plaforms upon which the consumer can feel cared for with transparency and functionality.

To see the Mandarin Chinese version of the article, see the January 2015 issue, pgs. 58-59.

10 settembre 2014

PGDS Consulting in Fashion, Luxury and Education

Today Italy's top fashion news, business and trend publication Fashion Magazine released my latest research article on China's anticorruption campaign and how it is affecting the strategies in today's fashion, luxury and accessory brands (in Italian, see pgs. 34-36 of the sfogliabile edition online or read the article at the following link). It reports on the broad effects which not only clothing brands are encountering in China, but also how yachting, airline, wine and spirit, hotels, bars, jewelry and watche brands are altering their course to cater to both the old and new rich in Mainland China. The term gifting per se finds its place historically in Confucianism and is based on the three pillars of society: courtesy, respect and relationship building. That's the good gifting which can be also found in the western world. It should not be confused with the more "grey" side of gifting, utilized only for obtaining an advantage with respect to public or private officials. International brands need to be aware of how the vast majority of the 1.3 billion population adheres to their government's new austerity plan and thus adjust their marketing, retail and promotion strategies during this so-called new normal phase of development. Fashion Magazine will also be distributed during the Milano Unica and Linea Pelle trade exhibitions currently taking place in Milan.

I am quite pleased with the progress made by PGDS Consulting's professional advise to the fashion, luxury and education industries during 2014. I am positive about the future and the expected turnaround of business conditions in Europe during 2015-2016. Last May I was invited by the Turkish Clothing Manufacturer's Association to speak about how local brands can build long-term strategies to develop their businesses. My full presentation about "How to be a Brand" can be downloaded at the following link. Also, see my full interview in Turkish, following that of Alberta Ferretti and before London based designer Antonio Berardi, made by local and international top model Tülin Şahin's ile Moda program on StarTV at the following link (starting at 37min45sec).

During 2014 I also proudly taught several eMBA, MBA and undergraduate seminars and courses in the fields of Luxury Brand Management, China Luxury Market, Licensing, Fashion Marketing and International Marketing. I am particularly proud of my continued relationships (now counting 5-7 years!) with Fondazione CUOA (and Shanghai Jiao Tong University), Università di Padova (and University of Michigan-Dearborn) and the International University of Monaco, all of which have provided me with a platform upon which to grow as a person, researcher, educator and businessman.

Without the support and openness of professional associations like Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Altagamma, Pitti Immagine Uomo or Fortune Character Institute in Beijing, I certainly would not have been able to learn from or meet so many of the distinguished managers in the Italian and international luxury fashion industry, such as Mario Boselli, Paolo Panerai, Paolo and Benedetta Zegna, Armando Branchini, Filippo Cavalli, Brunello Cucinelli, Umberto Angeloni, Annalisa Tarquini, Tina Zhou, Paolo Bellamoli and Romano Cappellari. Thanks to these persons' professional time and commitment, I am able to be an integral and fundamental part of the Italian and international luxury fashion system.

Since 2008 these stepping stones have brought me to be accepted on the faculty of Italy's top financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore and their International Master in Luxury Management. It's their Business School's first full-time English program which begins in November and where I will be presenting a seminar in Luxury Fashion Licensing. Other faculty members already on board include Bain & Co., BCG, Bulgari, Brioni, Ferragamo, Diesel and Maserati. Challenging company to be a part of, but my experience and confidence tell me that it will be a pleasure to share my know-how with students and the future business class.

Looking forward to an exciting Autumn 2014 season! See you on the street, at work and at the shows.