Istituto Marangoni is expanding internationally. The Italian fashion and design school revealed two new international openings and innovative formative programs Tuesday, at a press conference in Milan.

Mumbai is set to be the next branch of the school, which was founded in Milan in 1935. Istituto Marangoni has been in the Indian city with a representative office for more than 10 years, offering orientation advice to students, but decided to step up its game by inaugurating its first unit there due to the positive moment in the region.

“It’s an evolving market,” said Istituto Marangoni Group’s managing director Roberto Riccio. “It’s surprising how India changes in just a few months. There are starting to be new luxury department stores and most of all there’s an economy that grows 7 to 8 percent each year, and I believe it will reach China’s in the next 10 years.” Riccio underscored how “it’s important to be there before [this happens], also to intercept all the talents who long to be part of the fashion world.”

Istituto Marangoni Group's managing director Roberto Riccio.

Istituto Marangoni Group’s managing director Roberto Riccio.  Courtesy Photo

Slated to open in July, the Indian branch will be situated in Worli, in the city’s Lower Parel district, where many malls and international brands are established. The school will occupy the highest floor of a skyscraper, with a view overlooking the ocean.

Dubai is also earmarked for Istituto Marangoni’s strategy. The city is increasingly becoming the fashion center of the Middle East and the African region, according to Riccio, who mentioned the recent joint venture between the Yoox Net-a-porter group and Mohamed Alabbar’s Symphony Investments as additional evidence of Dubai’s active role in the industry. “There’s a great difficulty for some African students [who want] to arrive in Europe, which is to get a visa,” Riccio noted. “Dubai has a completely different way to manage visas, so it could [open a door] to interesting exchanges.” Although the process is still long, with an inauguration scheduled for the end of 2017, the group is in talks with different partners to decide where to establish the school. “The Dubai Design District seems to be the area where the Ministry of Studies and the Dubai University would let us open the school more easily,” Riccio said.

On a long-term basis, Riccio continues to scout growing regions, with a particular interest for the Southeast Asia, with Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand on top of his list.

The Group has accelerated its expansion strategy in the last three years, adding four new branches to the historic headquarter in Milan’s Via Verri and Paris and London’s units. In 2013, Istituto Marangoni opened a hub in Shanghai, to better meet the increasing demand of the Chinese market, which counts 450 enrolled students every year in Milan alone. The same year a new design-focused pole was founded in Milan’s central Via Cerva. In 2016, Florence welcomed an Istituto Marangoni branch, which registered 110 members against the 70 enrollments forecasted, while a month ago the Group inaugurated its second Chinese unit in Shenzen.

Riccio explained this fast activity mentioning both the important economical role of the openings, since Istituto Marangoni is private and depend on students’ tuitions only, and the great patrimony of emerging talents. “Most of the times, [foreign students] can’t afford to invest money to live three years in Europe, due to the high costs,” noted Riccio, adding how in other cases students are also more free to experiment in their own home and culture. “Sometimes when a Chinese student arrives in Italy, after three years he gets ‘too Italian’ and loses that creative impulse and stylistic feature that made him so different from the others at the beginning,” he said.

On a formative side, some changes have been introduced. Three-year courses are shifting into so-called “pathways,” divided in two parts: during the first year, students can choose and learn a disciplinary macro-cluster, while the second and third years will be dedicated to specializations. For example, the fashion design course, which currently counts 60 percent of the scholars in Milan, will be channeled in the specific categories of women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories, according to each student’s preference.

These changes multiply the formative offer, which will be honored for the first time with the AFAM certification, starting from the next academic year in October. Thanks to this recognition of artistic high formation, graduates of the “Fashion Design & Accessories” class and Via Cerva’s interior, product and visual design classes will obtain an official degree, equal to a university qualification.

Executive courses have also been introduced for professional figures who want to enhance their expertise and update their skills on specific fashion areas. Held weekends in Milan and Florence’s schools, the 18-monthlong masters will include classes focusing on fashion buying, communication, product management or interior design, among others. In addition to these, short courses in will be also available at Istituto Marangoni Paris and London’s branches, along with Milan and Florence. Set at competitive prices, the executive courses will be granted to worthy candidates through scholarships or be subjected to financial benefits for former Istituto Marangoni members.

The school currently counts 4,000 students enrolled every year, coming from 106 different countries. An international community has been created to connect the 45,000 professionals Istituto Marangoni helped to form since its foundation. Called “I’m Alumni,” the project aims to support former students with a professional network of contacts and data, provided for free. Involving 10,000 members, the digital platform also offers career services and a range of worldwide initiatives, like workshops, lectures and seminars, organized by the school.

Istituto Marangoni’s renowned alumni include designers Franco Moschino, Domenico Dolce, Alessandro Sartori, Alessandra Facchinetti, Maurizio Pecoraro and Paula Cademartori, among others.