Report from the Eurozone: Milan Fashion Week

Designer T-Shirts -- Fashion Icons @ 10 Corso Como

Milan Fashion Week is a strategic convergence of style, branding and commerce.  The world comes to visit and the Italians live up to the mantra:   Una bella figura.  Make a good impression.

The city is abuzz and alive.  Storefronts glisten with seasonal fashion statements. Window-dressers add the finishing touch to glamorous mannequins.  Limos line the curbs.  Delivery trucks shuttle props and Prosecco for the runway shows and showrooms.

A happy coincidence to experience due to a last-minute business trip.  Alas…insufficient lead time to maneuver a way into a main event.  But scope the street-view and you’ll sense the sizzle. Photo round-up here. 

It’s not just about looking good.  The fashion business represents the essence of the Italian economy and way of life based on a discerning eye, fresh creativity, impeccable craftsmanship, high-quality manufacturing and global tastemaking.  It is a mission-critical export.

Innate style is not something that can be outsourced to China.  It’s a core competency that drives trade and tourism in Italy based on centuries of culture.  We can’t lose such unique country-specific contributions in a big, interdependent global market.

Women Making a Difference

While in town, I attended a meeting of the Milan Professional Women’s Association featuring author and digital strategist Sara Rosso on Personal Branding.  Thank you for welcoming a visitor to this impressive and vibrant group!  Proud to see women taking charge and making inroads in the European leadership landscape.  To promote women for corporate directorships, the PWA compiled and marketed a dossier of Board-ready members, thus refuting the rationale for all-male Boards.   It was a delight to meet Joyce Bigio who was elected earlier this year to the Board of Fiat-Chrysler, where she serves on the Audit Committee.

There is an entrepreneurial bent to the mix of members.  About 40%  of the attendees are pursuing their own businesses and consulting practices.  While the women were upbeat about their own ability to contribute and thrive, concerns about the economy, now and in the future, are top-of-mind.  What will await their children?  What can parents do now to equip their sons and daughters for the uncertainties of tomorrow?

Promoting Self-Reliance

Entrepreneurism is the root of the American success story, but much less part of the European sensibility.  In the 1990s, I observed at a Scottish Enterprise conference that it was much more prestigious to have an endowed professorship at a university, as an example, than to be a start-up CEO.

That viewpoint is changing, thanks to a public service campaign developed by the European Association of Communications,  in partnership with M&C Saatchi and other ad firms, to encourage young Europeans to take charge of their economic future by starting businesses.  Story ran in International Herald Tribune, available here. 

“We wanted to introduce a positive voice into the European debate,” said Moray MacLennan, chief executive of M&C Saatchi in London. “The idea was to take young people and say: I will not be a victim of other people’s pessimism. I will control my future.”

“Entrepreneurship is one of these things where everyone says we could do things better, but nobody gets on and does it,” said Robert Madelin, director general for communications networks, content and technology at the European Commission in Brussels, which is supporting the campaign. The campaign, he added, sends the message that “entrepreneurship is part of the European dream.”

Love to see the American spirit of enterprise being embraced internationally!

copyright 2012  Nancy Keene All Rights Reserved

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Copyright © 2012 Nancy Keene