En Route to Milan

Hello Everybody! I am Rahul Bidanda, an Industrial Engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh just recovering from my Freshman year of Engineering. Thanks to the Plus3 program, I am about to embark on an unforgettable journey to Italy with a mission to learn about modern day fashion supply chains. I will be traveling in a group of 19 other Freshman Engineering and Business students who are just as eager to learn as I am.

In the leading months to the trip ,my group met with our professors for the trip, Dr. Patzer and Dr. Duquin, who informed us of what to look out for on the trip with a new social culture and business culture. We initially learned about the tips and tricks of getting around in Italy, including how to take out money, how to eat at restaurants, and how to communicate with the locals. As I haven’t been to Italy since I was a toddler, these tips were very useful and only made me more excited to begin this journey.

After learning about Italian culture we began to look at what to expect in the modern day fashion supply chain. In the first meeting we were given a popular company (i.e. McDonalds, Starbucks…), and to guess what their supply chain consisted of. Many of us were initially wrong, as we didn’t understand the complexity of these processes. We were then taught about many supply chain topics including horizontal vs. vertical integration, component suppliers, and direct vs. downstream customers. After learning about these concepts we were shown many issues involving modern day fashion supply chains including both humanitarian issues, and environmental issues. This was done through readings about practices of sustainable practices such as reducing waste, and non-sustainable practices such as using cheap oil. Many of these issues were eye opening, and I am glad to have learned about the dangers of them before going to see these companies myself. Sustainability is extremely important in today’s culture due to consumer concern, and the future of our planet, and as concern keeps growing, business often have trouble keeping non-sustainable practices under the radar.

On the trip we will be visiting multiple businesses and observing their practices in making textiles. Our travel group was split into split groups and each group was assigned a company to present on. My group researched Scuola Del Cuoio, a Florentine Leather School that makes many different types of leather products. Through research, I learned all about the entire supply chain of this company, including their traditional practices dating back to the early 1900’s, and the different types of animal they get their leather from. I was very interested in this, as well as many other business, and I am very excited to see all of them.

I can’t wait to spend two weeks with Italy with my group in Italy and am very excited to learn more about fashion supply chains, and Italian culture. Over the next two weeks I will be documenting the differences in day to day culture, as well my understanding of the global supply chain, so stay tuned for more!

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