Today began our journey to learning more about both the customs and business structure of Italy.
Like American culture, there are unique aspects to the Italian culture. One part of Italy that varies based on region is the language itself. The national dialect is the Florentine dialect, however other Italian regions have different dialects, much similar how there are different accents around the United States. To help us with the rest of the trip, we learned some Italian phrases from an Italian actress who also helped us to understand that the Italian culture is all about just putting yourself out there and really using your expressions to convey what you mean.
Our first adventure was to the Duomo, the mother cathedral of Milan. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, a central symbol of the Catholic Church. This cathedral has been rebuilt several times and is currently an architectural masterpiece. Our tour guide informed us it’s materials, much like the surrounding buildings in the district, represent power. It was truly a powerful building as it stands in a district that houses some of the most powerful fashion companies.
After touring the Duomo, we walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II, the home of many luxury fashion industries. The Galleria, although is a tourist destination, still makes a luxurious impression. It is made of marble and the colors are strictly black and gold. Prada, Armani, and Versace are central stores. It is a modern area, infused with the Italian architecture.
The luxury fashion brands were expected because they are known globally; however, the Italian businesses located within surrounding neighborhoods were charming and impressive.
Travi was the first small business we visited today. It is totally run by its owner, Travi, who hand makes all the products, Italian leather handbags . He focuses on impeccable craftsmanship and high quality. Travi runs everything: getting and picking out supplies, design, construction, and selling to customers. He uses all Italian made supplies. The leather can be unique to each customers wants and therefore he gets it from different parts of a country according to the need. Cow is the most common leather in his shop, but he also uses snake, reptile, and ostrich. The rare leathers come from different countries because of restrictions and laws in Italy. The hardware in handbags is also from other Italian companies. Travi uses his supplies to create his designs and even customers unique requests. Everything is made in his store and sold directly in his store. Regarding the supply chain of his company, everything is from Italy, but ultimately is put together and sold by Travi in one location.
Travi’s business is fascinating. He is a very busy man, but puts great care and effort into each piece. Travi is an Italian artisan, different from luxury fashion brands that focus on designs and company expansion. He learned his trade at age 14 from another Italian artisan and believes that he is continuing the heritage of Italy by also continuing the work of the middle-aged times artisans. People come from all around the world to buy his product, but unlike luxury brands that lead the world in fashion trends, Travi focuses on preserving Italian history through his works of art, leather handbags.
Leather artisanship and trade is a historic aspect to Italy, but the second shop visited put a unique spin on this. In contrast to Travi’s traditional quality handbags, If Bags makes leather handbags as well as signature leather backpacks. This was very fascinating for me because I am more likely to buy a backpack over a purse. Besides a product different, If Bags has many other differences as well. Started in 2012, they too make their product with materials that are all from Italy and their product is very customizable. However they are a larger company, selling internationally, both in stores and online. They make the product they sell in stores on site, but with already fabricated bags, just adding the final touches in store specific to a customers wants. The pre-made materials are made in a warehouse that supplies the retail stores. Regarding the supply chain for this company, it is more complex. While everything is still made in Italy, the selling process also occurs internationally. All the suppliers are within in Italy, which makes its way to a main warehouse that makes either the basic framework for bags to be shipped to retail stores or a complete product for online shoppers, and finally the product reaches its customer. If Bags seems more accessible to customers that do not live in Italy or frequently travel there. It is company that lives off Italian ideas by making a trendy and quality product.
Today provided a full view of all the different fashion levels that exist within Milan. The luxury fashion brands are known globally, set trends, and utilize a variety of supplies to produce their final produce. Travi is simple Italian artisan who runs his business start to finish within his small, but charming storefront. If Bags is a modernized company, yet also incorporates traditional Italian artisanship, that is fully run with Italian supplies but is taking on the international markets. All of these different types of fashion businesses is what attracts high end buyers focused on qualities to the fashion capital of the world. But the price range is what differentiates the clientele of businesses. It was evident that the luxury brands are higher priced based on their location in Milan, while the other businesses are more locally based in surrounding neighborhoods.