Today we visited the McKinsey of the fashion world: the Consorzio Della Moda. After arriving from the public bus in the afternoon, we sat down in the working space for a presentation and Q&A session. The Consorzio is a community of networking professionals companies in the fashion world to serve the mid to smaller sized fashion houses and boutiques of Italy. There are 46 companies in the Venetian region that are a part of the Consorzio, but the total amount of companies that are dealt with are about 350 when you look at the entire supply chains of these companies. Having a good knowledge of SCM is extremely important for the Consorzio, as they are working with a large, diverse group of companies and industries in the supply chain in order to get a single product on the market. Members of the Consorzio have access to other industry professionals who can help them re-strategize marketing goals, style clothing, mass produce, gain international markets, and keep up with the latest trends. Work done from the Consorzio is mainly project-based, depending on the needs of the client. Let’s say that a new clothing company wants to gain sales and knows it cannot do that on their own. They would join the Consorzio, and the Consorzio could set them up with all sorts of services to expand their business model. They might get stylists to materialize design ideas, manufacturers to mass produce it, digital marketing professionals to get their products on the web market, and stores to carry their pieces all around the world. To join the Consorzio, company members pay an initial fee, an annual fee, and fees based off of each project. The Consorzio also has excellent, exclusive expensive resources that companies can use to study demanded fashion trends and the launch of new brands and clothing lines. The Consorzio also helps companies become as organized as possible, strengthening computerization for easier company management. Education and research are important in the Consorzio, as they make sure to train The Consorzio also stimulates the creation of purchasing groups, so companies have customers to purchase their products, no matter what level in the supply chain.
The organizational culture of the Consorzio is more technical than you might think. Before the presentation, I saw many sketches and fabrics, thinking there was a lot of designing going on at this site. I was wrong. The Consorzio works with clients who often already have designs that need to be styled, physically created, and mass produced. So yes, there are creative elements in the function of the Consorzio, but there are more dictated by the overall fashion trends of the industry and what the client company has in mind. The Consorzio is more the mediator that puts those ideas on a mannequin in the store or gets the product on the front porch step of a customer’s house. The Consorzio is both formally logistic in its operations but also creative in its approaches to the best styling and production processes. Things like deciding how much fabric to order, deciding which areas to target market, and figuring out which trends are most purchased are the more technical operations of the company. Styling designs into actual products that can be mass produced and launching a new marketing initiative, however, can be very creative processes.
An association in the US similar to the Consorzio is Robert Burke Associates, a consulting firm specializing in retail and fashion. This New York based company provides services in global and domestic retail development, brand and retail strategy, and investment advisory. Robert Burke has several clients who may be competitors, but that competition is overlooked, as companies know that their market is large enough for all of them. At Robert Burke, ideas are brought to the face of consumers, mastering the communication and delivery of the products customers want.
Being a part of the Consorzio can pose major advantages to smaller and medium sized fashion companies, as the Consorzio has some very exclusive talent, information, machinery, and experience. It is in these things that smaller companies see a value large enough to invest in, as the larger companies like H&M and Zara are destroying the smaller, high quality boutiques and labels. After our visit to the site, we went back to our hotel, wrote our blogs, and had dinner at an osteria.