It’s currently Milan Fashion Week (hereon known as MFW), where the movers and shakers of Italy’s fashion industry get together to give the nod to the trends we can expect to penetrate mainstream by Autumn/Winter 2017. Amongst these decision-makers and influencers we count editors, journalists, bloggers and power designer houses like Dolce and Gabbana, MaxMara, Versace, Valentino, Armani, and Prada. In fact, anyone with a vested interest in fashion currently has their eyes on Milan, so it seems hard to believe that just 70 years ago Italy had no real notable fashion industry. So how did a country grow from off the fashion radar to being one of the big four (rubbing shoulders with London, New York, and Paris)? Here we break down success, Italian style.

 

Prada – Straddling the market

 

In 2008, most of the world experienced an economic crash and yet, during that period, Prada was reporting growth and rapid expansion into Asia. How they did is a series of complexities, but it’s widely agreed that their success lies in straddling the market so that they encompass everyone – from the wealthy and the fashion conscious to the aspirational wannabe. In fact, Prada has positioned themselves so well with entry price points to mortgage your home prices, that they have widely become a house hold name (with a movie, The Devil Wears Prada, paying homage).

 

Versace –  Engage the audience

 

The theatrics we see on runways were not typical of the fashion world just 30 years ago. On the contrary, before the super model explosion of the early 90s – modelling used to be a pretty serious business with models coming with one size fit all measurements. It was Versace, particularly Donatella, who first put super-top models on the catwalk (against her brother’s wishes). Famously countering her brother’s aspirations for chic and sophisticated, Donatella said “on the catwalk you need charisma. Otherwise, can you imagine the boredom?”. And so she paved the way for a generation of designers who would understand that building a brand, was so much more than just creating clothes.

 

Diesel – Be Innovate

 

When Renzo Rosso founded the company Diesel in 1978, he wanted the company to be a leader famed for taking chances and occupying a distinctive niche in people’s minds. This meant creating a design-team that turned their backs on fashion forecasters and style-dictators, working to create a unique and individual style that would be the cutting-edge of innovation. You only need to look at Diesel on an individual product basis, or as a collection as a whole, to see how they use unique detailing, new washes, and treatments to stay ahead of competitors.

 

Armani – Stay in control

 

When asked about the secrets of his success back in 2004, Giorgio Armani actually dared to proclaim “I did it my way”. Continuing to elaborate, the designer said “my way was always to be as personal as possible. Just because everyone else is doing something, that doesn’t make it right”.  In fact, this one-directional approach is so encompassing that Armani owns 100% of the company, refusing to appease any shareholders.

 

While the designer admitted that this bullish approach does come with consequences (a tendency for a self-centred and autonomous approach) he insisted that this unwavering one-directional focus kept his ship steering during volatile and turbulent times.

 

 

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