Today was filled with exhausting visits and a lecture. The morning started by using the metro to visit Lineappelle, a leather consortium in Milan. First, we learned about the sustainability of the leather industry. Although at the surface, the leather industry appears to be the killing of animals for leather, it can also be seen as recycling from the food industry. 99.5% of leather is sourced from animals that were bred and slaughtered for the food industry. Bovine is by far the most popular type of leather, followed by sheep and goat. There is a small market for other leathers, such as deer, crocodile, or snake. Leather manufacturing also returns 92% of the water used in the process. There is also a trend of environmental care in the industry. Between 2003 and 2017, waste, water consumption, and energy use have each declined; however, the costs dedicated to protecting the environment have nearly doubled. We got to touch and feel various types of leather. Each has a unique texture determined by the animal, follicle distance, and the presence of fur or wool.
For lunch, we wandered by a nearby castle, where a German festival was happening. At a food stand, I got a cheeseburger. I accidentally got mayonnaise on it because my attempt at pointing to the mustard was unsuccessful, but it was delicious. After eating, we walked around the castle and explored the immense courtyard areas. Naturally, we talked near the water spout because we were all severely dehydrated. After chugging water, we travelled to a fashion library in Milan. The library has over 70,000 magazines and lookbooks. I looked at a magazine about watches, a magazine in German to practice my translating skills, and a Russian fashion show picture collection. The watch magazine was interesting to me because the stylish watches at the time were all clunky- and complicated-looking. Now, the style for watches is more based on the idea of simplification and basic designs. The Russian pictures were also interesting because the general style is so different from America or Italy. The models had minimal make-up on, for example. The library was a nice change of pace because we could sit for a long time and relax for a bit.
At the end of the day, we attended a lecture about digital marketing with respect to Velasca, a startup shoe company in Milan. Velasca was founded under the idea that high-quality, handmade shoes should be available at a fair price. The process of marketing begins by creating a target audience. Once Velasca has an email list and data about customer purchases, they can find similar potential customers and target ads based on the type of purchase that they are matched with (i.e. oxfords compared to low-top sneakers). Another interesting aspect of Velasca’s digital marketing is their focus on customer retention. By sending emails post-sale, they encourage the customer to purchase more products. Given that their average customer makes an average of 2.8 purchases, this strategy is clearly successful. If the products are high-quality, the customer may tell others and reduce the cost of encouraging people to purchase new shoes from Velasca’s perspective. This close relationship with the customer is also reflected in Velasca’s direct sales to customers to keep low prices.