MILAN — “Our French cousins are definitely better than us in storytelling, we should learn from them to narrate the value of craftsmanship,” said Carlo Capasa, president of Italy’s fashion chamber, at the end of Show Me event LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton staged here on Thursday.
At its second edition in Italy, the event offered an update on the initiatives implemented by the group and its Institut des Métiers d’Excellence, the vocational training program aimed at promoting, enhancing and ensuring the transmission of know-how that involves artisanal craftsmanship, creative and retail skills. The program has trained some 2,000 people in six countries since it was founded in 2014.
In addition to LVMH’s own projects aimed at preserving these jobs and training new professional figures, the group has partnered with Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, or CNMI, and the Confartigianato association, to introduce an award in support of Italian craftsmanship. More specifically, each year a different brand of the group will partner with CNMI to acknowledge three master artisans, who will received a money prize of 10,000 euros and up to three sessions of mentorship. The first brand joining the initiative is Fendi.
LVMH’s group managing director Antonio Belloni underscored the importance of the Italian ecosystem in perpetuating the creativity, craftsmanship and customer experience for the group, as the country is home to six of its brands, including Bulgari, Acqua di Parma, Loro Piana, Emilio Pucci and Cova, in addition to Fendi.
“The artisans represent the true strength of our group and are those capable of creating products that make very demanding customers dream all over the world,” said Belloni. “I keep repeating that the guiding star of our group is to always cultivate the desirability of our maisons for the long term. This is very important. Well, the products and the experiences we offer to customers are evidently the cornerstone of this strategic approach and therefore these professions of excellence and the talents behind them are what I would call the real core competence that we must nourish and continue to strengthen for the future of our business.”
The executive also acknowledged the group’s partners in the country, around 5,000 small to medium-sized companies employing more than 200,000 people and that “bring to our group not only production capacity of the highest quality but also innovation, ideas and know-how. They push us to do better and are very complementary to what we do.”
“This supply chain is a formidable resource for the group and for the country. And in fact, together with public authorities and educational institutions, we really want to make a joint effort to continue to perpetuate this competitive advantage and important force. I always say that Italy is the second homeland for the LVMH group, and therefore we will do our part here,” added Belloni.
The brands’ commitment and great ambition in preserving artisanal jobs locally is further amplified by the shortage of skilled workers in the fashion and hospitality industries. According to projections by luxury goods association Fondazione Altagamma, Italy will have a vacancy of 346,000 workers in the so-called Métiers d’Excellence, including 94,000 people in the fashion and leather goods industry and 36,000 professionals in high-end hospitality.
In a video message screened at the event, Chantal Gaemperle, executive vice president of human resources and synergies at LVMH, stressed the “urgency of attracting new generations” to these fields, underlining that these represent a great career opportunity. In particular, LVMH is looking to hire more than 2,000 talents in these jobs in Italy by the end of 2024.
“There’s a natural convergence between the LVMH group and Italy, because high-end manufacturing is a distinctive trait of the Italian industrial fabric. The Italian hand and creativity are unmatched: they have their roots in the Renaissance corporations and have developed and handed down [those skills] through the generations, finding their realization in those realities that are the Italian districts,” said Belloni.
In Italy, the group employs 12,000 people across its six brands, but also at more than 250 stores, eight Belmond luxury hotels and 31 manufacturing sites.
“And we’re constantly growing,” said Belloni, mentioning this year’s operations such as Berluti’s production facility in the Emilia-Romagna region that has been doubled in capacity as well as Fendi’s new footwear factory in Fermo, in the Marche region, and its state-of-the-art accessories plant in Bagno a Ripoli, a 30-minute drive from Florence.
Belloni also teased new projects, including plans for a leather goods factory in Tuscany for Givenchy and a more vague but “ambitious” project by Loro Piana for a production facility. As reported, Bulgari will also double the production capacity of its jewelry manufacturing plant in Valenza, which was unveiled in 2017.
With a surface area of nearly 189,000 square feet, Bulgari’s site is expected to become the biggest in the world for jewelry and be completed by the end of 2025. Bulgari’s chief executive officer Jean-Christophe Babin underscored that the company will need to recruit 750 new people and flank the existing in-house academy aimed at training new hires with another school that will also be open to external students.
“The [vacancy] is big.…We also need 400 skilled workers in the next few months for our new hotel in Rome and another 150 in the next five years for the goldsmith’s workshop where we craft high jewelry, also in Rome,” said Babin.
Robert Koren, Belmond’s senior vice president, Europe, Middle East & Africa, confirmed the challenges the hospitality sector is facing since “the pandemic pushed the professional workers of this industry to other fields.” To confront the moment, the hotel came up with a straightforward, on-field approach by leveraging low season to train new workers at its structure and preparing them to be integrated during the six to nine busiest months of the year.
During the event, Alexandre Boquel, head of development for LVMH’s Métiers d’Excellence division, detailed the steps of the “virtuous circle” of actions the group is implementing to preserve the know-how behind this type of job by inspiring vocations, training people and passing the skills to the next generations.
The starting point is to change the way these positions are perceived by youth via the Excellent program, which is geared toward teenagers. In a year, the initiative raised awareness about these jobs among 700 middle school students in Italy because of collaborations with brands such as Bulgari, Berluti, Celine, Dior, Fendi and Loro Piana.
Second on the group’s agenda is offering orientation on courses and information about LVMH. Next year LVMH will introduce in Italy the “You and Me” tour to help the public learn about the training courses of the Institut des Métiers d’Excellence, receive tips from the human resources of the group’s brands and discover the career opportunities at the company. The recruitment tour will touch base in Florence, Padua and Novara, in the Piedmont region.
Since its launch in Italy in 2017, Institut des Métiers d’Excellence has trained 400 students in the country. Last year, 99 percent out of all students received their diplomas and 76 percent of them now cover jobs in the fields they trained for, most of them at LVMH or its partner companies.
For the 2022-23 academic year, 186 students will be in Institut des Métiers d’Excellence’s 14 programs here. Three training programs will debut, too, including one dedicated to eyewear, developed in collaboration with Thélios, Louis Vuitton, the Certottica institution for the certification of optical products, and the ITS Cosmo academy. A hospitality program with Belmond, and one dedicated to leather goods and launched with Fendi in partnership with Fondazione Altagamma’s Adopt a School initiative will be also available.
Guaranteeing improvement to employees throughout their entire careers is also key, according to Boquel. For one, an academy for leather goods modeling will be launched.
Cyril Letellier, modeling supervisor for men’s leather goods at Fendi, said there’s “a desperate need” for this type of profile, which is more and more difficult to find.
“The solution is to make our leather goods manufacturer grow and turn them into modelers. So a team of specialists has worked nine months on developing this new program that will start in January,” he said. The seminal class will enroll nine people.
In addition to executives of LVMH and its brands, attendees at Show Me included artisans, students and artists sharing their personal experiences. Closing the event, 20 “virtuous” people were recognized with a special gold pin designed by Chaumet for representing the excellence in their fields inside the group, while apprentices received a certificate.