LCF’s Executive MBA (Fashion) candidates recently went on a 3-day trip to Milan to visit streetwear label IUTER and reprised luxury leather goods and accessories company Valextra, in order to examine the various stages of product development.
Tour at Valextra
During the Valextra tour, Marketing and Communications Director Xavier described Milan as a city of ‘passionate restraint,’ an idea that was evident throughout the tour of Valextra’s intimate factory. The group witnessed Italian craftsman at work throughout the production process, from the cutting of the leathers to the hand stitching and the finishing of the bags. Members of the group practiced their skills in Valextra’s trademark “Costa” black inked edges that help define the colour of the bags.
The ‘restraint’ of the luxury leather brand even extends to their identity, with the brand choosing not to have a logo and opting for a minimalist but exquisite look in their flagship store. A quest for innovation during Valextra’s early years led to pioneering designs and they now have funding to expand on that. However, keeping on the theme of restraint, they are determined to grow in a thoughtful way, carefully selecting the right partners and collaborating with carefully chosen opinion leaders.
Visit to IUTER
During the visit to street culture brand IUTER’s flagship store in Porta Ticinese, Alberto, the owner and Creative Director revealed that they also subscribe to the idea of restraint. Seeking to understand the value of creative research, he travels extensively to watch influencers and change agents in established and emerging global cities. Yet his success is partly due to his determination to maintain close control of the business which has grown at a steady and manageable pace.
IUTER has adopted a refreshing approach. By collaborating through a network of specialist and neighbouring factories outside of Milan they have been able to remain flexible and agile. During a tour of the Cairate factory the group witnessed the sense of pride and passion for innovation throughout the stages of product development. They observed how it could take up to 30 minutes of hand stitching to attach the pieces that make up one sample.
The experience was a valuable insight into innovative business models used by the brands, looking at the similarities and difference between them.
The company visits illustrated the dedication and commitment of Italian fashion businesses today. Final excursions to La Triennale and Villa Necchi Campiglio helped to place the “passionate restraint” of Italian design and luxury into the perspective of Milan’s rich cultural past.
Among these newer organisations in Milan what we saw was a renewed spirit of localised production and a desire to create companies that maximised the welfare of their workers and customers. Made in Italy still means something – Dr Jonathan Gander, EMBA Course Director