Meeting CEO’s of the Fashion Industry

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Guest Speaker 1: Fashion and jewelry

I regret to inform that I was not able to embark on any trips this week. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything exciting to talk about. Although talking about school might not seem exciting, my classes abroad are very interesting in my opinion. They all have interesting components to them, but let me begin with my management of fashion class. The class itself is very interesting because it addresses a lot of the aspects of the fashion industry. After every class I feel like I learned something fascinating or important. As the subheading implies, we also have a lot of guest speakers. So far we have only had two, but we have many scheduled throughout the semester. 

The first guest speaker was a jewelry expert that used to work at Swarovski in the 90’s and early 2000. Donatella Zappieri was the first to introduce a jewelry line to Swarovski Europe. This commercial jewelry line became so popular it was later implemented globally. Mrs. Zappieri is not a jewels expert in the sense that she can design or value jewels, but in that she knows all the business surrounding the process. The most interesting part of the presentation was the entertainment division within Swarovski. I am huge cinema fan, so it was really interesting to know that Swarovski has a special department for the involvement of Swarovski crystals and jewels in films. One video she should us is of the collaboration between Disney and Swarovski in the live-action Cinderella film.

Swarovski and Cinema

The entire presentation was really fascinating, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a favorite part. As I mentioned I love films and almost anything in cinema. Therefore, my favorite part of this presentation was learning about the entertainment department. What I always seem to ask myself after every class meeting or after every guest-speaker presentation is “did this make me want to join?” This is the main criteria I set when reflecting on any guest-speaker. At first, I was just a bit curious about Swarovski, but nothing she was talking about made me think “I see myself doing this.” Not to sound cheesy, but learning about Swarovski entertainment made me think “I see myself doing this.” I got chills when I saw the design of the glass slipper being animated and brought to life on the screen.

Another aspect of the cinema department that I found interesting is the involvement Swarovski has with the Oscars. Most of the set designs of the Academy Awards is done by Swarovski. To me that is very impressive from a design standpoint. The amount of crystals and people that it takes to build entire sets for one night is incredible. However, if you asked me what I found the most interesting, the involvement in films is still at the top of the list. For me, it was really interesting to learn that companies actually lend/creative pieces to filmmakers. I knew product placement existed, but Swarovski’s engagement is much more subtle. They are credited at the end of the film, but not once in Cinderella did I see their name displayed or said, which is what intrigued me the most.

Guest speaker 2: PVH Italy

Enough about jewels, lets talk about clothing, which is what people associate fashion with the most. Our second guest speaker was the CEO of the PVH Italy Group. Benoit de Crane d’Heysselaer (I know it’s a mouthful) presented on the perception that PVH is the most relevant brand among millenial’s. Most of us wouldn’t recognize PVH when someone said PVH came to present to my class. PVH is the parent company of many brands, most notable are Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. There are many other brands under the PVH group, but the presentation centered mainly around Tommy Hilfiger with a small mention of Calvin Klein. 

Since this is the CEO of PVH Italy, his presentation was primarily focused on Tommy Hilfiger since that brand is much more popular than Calvin Klein in Italy. Which already brings up a very interesting fact about the industry in Italy. Before taking this class, I was aware of fashion groups being in-charge of multiple brands. However, the scope of the matter continues to widen with every class. Never in a million years did I think Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein are in the same family Speedo. However, that is the reality of these large groups. Back to the presentation. It did not shock me as much the Swarovski entertainment section, but I did learn a lot about what brands want to communicate to my generation.

PVH and Millenials

It is interesting to know that companies like PVH want to make their store environment more tech oriented, while still maintaining the old-fashioned model. I truly believe this is where companies can excel. Yes, the Millenial generation is very tech-oriented. However, many of us grew up doing things the same way our parents did. Personally, I would be very upset if tradition stores went obsolete. I do appreciate the convenience that E-commerce provides, but I still find physical stores useful. This is a point de Crane d’Heysselaer brings up, there is still a desire for brick-and-mortar businesses. Call me old fashioned but I agree that these establishments are still valuable. 

Another topic is that of sustainability. I think this presentation was very interesting because Mr. de Crane d’Heysselaer wanted us to be engaging. He asked a lot of questions and wanted to engage in a conversation with us. These conversations validated, and in some cases contradicted, a lot of the information he presented. Sustainability is one point we spent a lot of time discussing. The overall consensus is that we like purchasing green-label  products. It not only makes us feel good, but it makes us feel like we are part of the solution not the problem. However, one point, that I completely agree with, that contradicts Mr. de Crane d’Heysselaer research is that college students don’t have a disposable income. It is much more difficult for us to consider paying more for green-label, than if we had a disposable income. 

Fashion guest speakers

To conclude, I ask myself once more if this presentation made me want to join. It wasn’t as surprising as the Swarovski presentation but I did make me want to join the PVH group. I appreciate companies that are open to having a discussion on the environment and the changing dynamics of the business world. Therefore, I believe that this presentation served to communicate the changes that are to come in the business world. It is satisfying to hear about a company trying to adapt to current times as apposed to hearing about another company complain about millenials killing an industry. 

School abroad is interesting for many reasons, but the thing I love most about Bocconi are the many guest speakers we have. I only spoke about my fashion class because the names are more recognizable, but I have had multiple guest speakers in my other classes. This system that seems to be prevalent in many courses throughout Bocconi, is one that I find very useful. Back home we do have some guest speakers, but the idea of taking up a class period to have a guest lecturer is something I’ve only seen in my “Doing Business Internationally” course in San Diego. It is something that I will miss greatly as I eventually depart from Bocconi.

CEO of PVH Italy Benoit de Crane d’Heysselaer presenting in my class.
Here is a picture of the CEO with the first slide of the presentation which describes the theme of his presentation.
You can’t really tell but I am in this picture. I am at the end of the row with my head slightly tilted.