MILAN — The future of Made in Italy took center stage at the yearly Pambianco conference here Friday, aptly called “Made in Italy without Italy?”
David Pambianco, vice president of Milan-based consultancy Pambianco Strategie d’Impresa, argued that as foreign groups take control of an increasing number of Italian brands, the latter rely on a strong international network and significant resources, creating employment and development, but business direction and profits are channeled outside Italy. “Italy is becoming the China of luxury. In the medium and long term, there is a risk that international customers will attribute more importance to the brand and less to the production, shifting from ‘Made in’ to ‘Made by,’ leading to a diminished production in Italy,” warned Pambianco. “It is fundamental for small and medium firms to find new resources, from letting private equity funds in, to a public listing or a partnership with international distributors.”
He pointed to foreign acquisitions in Italy from 1999 to 2012 for a value of 9.22 billion euros, or $12.42 billion at current exchange.
Brunello Cucinelli, president of his namesake company, and Lapo Elkann, president of Italia Independent Group, remarked on the benefits derived by the recent successful listing of their firms. Michele Norsa, chief executive officer of Salvatore Ferragamo, also an example of a strong listing, said “it’s not always true that the biggest wins, while it is true the fastest does.”
Norsa conceded “that there are advantages in real estate or communication” for big groups, but insisted that monobrand companies also grow well and can still lead, citing Michael Kors.
Furla ceo Eraldo Poletto acknowledged the real estate issue and said “you must be big to compete, the challenge is in terms of store locations.” While rumors periodically surface about a possible Furla initial public offering, Poletto said the company is evaluating potential avenues for growth, and not necessarily looking at the stock exchange.
“One must be organized to go public. We don’t have any debt and we are self-financed. Many go public because they have no choice,” he said.
Andrea Guerra, ceo of the publicly traded Luxottica Group, noted that “people have developed a new relationship with eyewear, one in which emotions have been introduced,” in an expanded and more complex world. “There are wonderful new markets, there are three billion new consumers in Asia, but it’s difficult and it is necessary to plan ahead. Either we have time to chart a course, or it is crazy.”
In a video presentation, Renzo Rosso, president of Diesel, Marni, Viktor & Rolf and Maison Martin Margiela parent group OTB, who has often expressed his desire to build a relevant fashion group, said that he was “very much in favor of acquisitions around the world” and that he was evaluating “realities in Japan and the U.S.”
Addressing the evergreen issue of Italy’s lack of fashion groups, Carlo Pambianco, founder of the consultancy, said, “Italian entrepreneurs have big personalities, they are difficult to regroup. Technically it is possible, but concretely it’s difficult.”
Gregorio De Felice, chief economist of Intesa Sanpaolo, said the summer showed “encouraging signs of a pickup in the euro zone and an acceleration of the global economy.” For the first time in the past 10 years, established markets led world growth, and over the next few months, the U.S., Japan and the euro zone “will show an acceleration of imports propelling international trade.”
Intesa Sanpaolo expects 3.1 percent gross domestic product growth in the U.S. in 2014, compared with an estimated 1.6 percent in 2013, and 1 percent growth in the euro zone compared with an expected 0.3 percent decrease this year.
Worldwide, 3.5 percent growth is expected in 2014 compared with 3.1 percent growth in 2013.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast