Fendi, Max Mara & PepsiCo Execs Discuss State of Italian Luxury

Italian Luxury and Design Summit
First Italian Luxury & Design Summit held in New York.
Maurizio Bacci

A “Made in Italy” shoe label is believed by many consumers to hold a certain cachet, and that seal was among many points of discussion at the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce’s “First Italian Luxury and Design Summit” held in New York last month.

Conference panels included execs from the likes of Fendi, Max Mara, Bally, UniCredit and PepsiCo. Organized in collaboration with BAV Consulting and the Luxury Marketing Council, the event emphasized how Italian heritage and culture intersect with luxury in today’s often complex — and crowded — market.

Opportunities as well as concerns were highlighted, but perhaps the overarching theme of the event was that the changing consumer (notably millennials) have resulted in a change of what ‘luxury’ even means. Status and prestige, according to panelists, are no longer enough to constitute luxury. It was suggested that there must now be an additional, substantial dynamic that sets a brand a part.

Prior to the event, Alberto Milani, president of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce, who served as the summit’s moderator, reflected that this event would be the first of many. “It will be the first edition of a formula that will bring crucial elements of the evolution of Italian lifestyle to New York every year and then find an innovative way to market them properly in the U.S.,” he said.

Robert Shullman, founder and CEO of the Shullman Research Center, added that Italian luxury is especially well regarded in relation to footwear.

“When one thinks about the Italian footwear brands, I and many others who follow luxury, initially think of their heritage and what great luxuries Italy produces,” he reflected. “How to maintain and build on that heritage has become increasingly critical, and that’s why such events as this one are important.”

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