Day #6 – Milan

Today was a very busy day for the Plus 3 students in Milan! We started our day off by going to a company called Lineapelle, which the “most important” international leather, fabric, and synthetic consortium. They do not manufacture leather themselves, but they have fairs at different times in the year at their locations here in Milan, London, and New York to showcase high-quality leather accessories from different brands. When I was researching this company, I was very skeptical about how they call themselves the “most important” leather consortium; however, in the lecture they supported this claim by demonstrating their large scope. Currently, they have 1254 exhibitors from 45 countries, and their customers come from an even broader reach. In terms of the fashion supply chain, Lineapelle a “permanent exhibition center”, so it has a unique position of distributor because it helps manufacturers get their products to their consumers. In this way, they also are a service provider. Their suppliers are various leather and textile companies that produce only fabric of the highest standard to maintain Lineapelle’s reputation of being very high quality. It’s consumers are those interested in buying expensive leathers, fabrics, and/or their accessories.

In terms of their business techniques, Lineapelle must keep up with the trends and understand what is in demand so that the people in their exhibitions can maximize profit.They do this by examining sales data over the years to see if anything has been steadily increasing or decreasing. For example, right now furniture and garment demand is going down while automotive leather is on the rise.  I thought this visit was very interesting was because we got to actually touch all of the leathers and witness first-hand what type of high quality products Lineapelle actually showcases.

A corridor full of leather at Lineapelle

One thing that surprised me today was how they prioritize sustainability. They are joined with UNIC, which emphasizes that leather “Made in Italy” is natural, clean, ethical, and innovative. It is natural in that it utilizes a circular economy by which leather can be reused to make new leather products. In addition, 99.5% of the leather Lineapelle showcases is residue from the food industry, where they receive their skins. If the tanneries were not taking these skins, they would be going to waste. Italian leather is clean in that 92% of the water used to clean the materials is returned. In addition, it is ethical because Lineapelle only exhibits leather that is traceable in that rawhides and skins must come from sources that are ethically acceptable and sustainable. In terms of innovation, the economy is sustainable because they invest in the research of technologies that could potentially help their industry, like automatic chemical distribution.

One thing I learned today about many of the Italian businesses today was just how innovative they truly are. Italy doesn’t have many natural resources like gold or petroleum, so they have invented their own industries to gain wealth. They decided that leather was a product that people truly need, and they have created several businesses that create very high quality leathers to sustain their economy. This type of innovation is very impressive because instead of scraping to find money in the lack of natural resources, they created their own industry and are thriving because of it.

The best pasta I have ever eaten

After our company visit and the best pasta meal I have eaten in my entire life, we attended the Milan Fashion Library, a private library inside of a larger publishing company. In the supply chain, this company is a service provider because it allows people to do research with an extended amount of resources available to them. In this way, they are a service provider on the supply chain, and their clients are students or people that need to do fashion research who pay a membership fee. Some examples of students that would need this type of service are fashion students who are working on a project or polytechnic students that are researching textiles and materials.

Milan Fashion Library

I really enjoyed how we got to explore the entire building and were able to look at some of the magazines that dated back very early. It was very interesting to see how the fashion industry has changed over the past 50 years and how even the marketing of fashion has changed since then.

Fashion Magazine from 1954

Lastly, we attended a lecture by a employee of Velasca which was very informative about the supply chain and digital marketing. Founded in 2012, this company specializes in handcrafted men’s shoes that are affordable. This business is a manufacturer and a distributor because it follows the direct-to-customer business model, like Apple. It was very cool to learn about this business model in a lecture-style setting because, as an engineer, I am normally not exposed to these kind of classes. Essentially, I now understand that the direct-to-customer model cuts out intermediaries like multi-brand stores, showrooms, middlemen, and distributors, so that the company doesn’t have to give a portion of the profits to this company. This reduces and price inflammation of the shoes and maximizes the profits of the company itself because they don’t have to give a portion of the earnings to the intermediary.

This lecture was very eye-opening for me because I knew very little about digital marketing beforehand. I thought it is was very interesting the way that the founder of Velasca decided to create his own new market of high-quality affordable shoes that go directly to the customer because he knew he would just be entering into competition had he entered an existing market. That is very innovative in my mind, and innovation is something that I can certainly relate to as an engineer.

I likewise was very interested to hear about the way that they have to use social media to target certain audiences. Velasca is mainly expanding into the Western market because they already have a social media presence there. I had no idea that the Asian market was so hard to reach due to their different social media platforms!

Clearly, today was a very busy but quite informative day. I cannot wait to see what Day 7 of the trip will bring!

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