From Fragiacomo to Bruno Magli, how brands with strong values intersect with the demands of Generation Y.
[On cover: a Fragiacomo’s shoes proposal for Christmas]
Millennials, Generation Y, Next or Net Generation are all synonyms for the much sought-after slice of the market represented by individuals born between 1980 and 2000. Brands and companies alike court this group, trying to meet their demands and desires. Technology-savvy, fundamentally shaped by the internet and avid online shoppers, they are projected to corner 40% of the luxury market in the next seven years.
Fighting for them are both new brands and old-timer labels who have developed their own values, know-how and experience. Youngsters seem to have clocked these brands’ features; they are leaning towards vintage clothes and do not seem too favourable to major sartorial risks.
It is inevitable, then, that historical brands are looking to marry this passion for heritage with an appreciation for beauty and quality with young people’s demands. But how to do so? With, for example, a strong social media presence as Fragiacomo is doing:
“We have a history of 60 years behind us, but we strongly believe in the power of a digital presence. After the success we have had on social media – gaining over 3 million users in only 6 months – we are continuing with the expansion of our online presence, having just launched our new ecommerce website”, commented Fragiacomo’s President and CEO Federico Pozzi Chiesa. “New generations are mostly using these kinds of tools and the trend is in line with our goals of internationalisation and the valorisation of capsule collections, specifically made for our e-boutique. We are expressly meeting the demands of our diverse – in terms of both age and national provenance – audience so as to continually revamp our products. Such a process will not necessarily respect the traditional seasonal rhythms of the fashion market, but, whilst remaining faithful to our heritage, will evolve through specific projects, co-branding and collaborations with national and international influencers.”
Are youngsters able to see the potential of a brand which was very much of their parents’ era, but that is now reinventing itself in order to appeal to millennials?
“We believe that this is a very positive time for historical brands – continues Pozzi Chiesa – because thanks to new technologies they are better able to communicate their potential and target their message about the importance of quality and attention to detail directly at users and in a more wide-reaching way than before. We think that the ability to reinvent oneself and to make one’s heritage relevant to modern life intrigues and grips new generations.”
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Another footwear brand, whose origins go back to 1936 and which is experiencing a reawakening is Bruno Magli. This is thanks to the Brué group – native of the Marches – who recently signed a licensing agreement with the American Marquee Brands (the operational arm of the Neuberger Berman fund), who bought the brand in 2015. So, once again their shoes are created exclusively in Italy and are targeting the marriage between tradition and innovation.
“Today, our company mission is the same as it has always been – so they say on the office floor – and it will continue to be the key to our future success. You have to draw on tradition to be able to reinvent a new concept of essential luxury, targeted at modern consumers who are aware of the excellence represented by ‘Made in Italy’.”
Attentive, therefore, to that special balance between elegance, comfort and refinement that one can communicate through social media. It’s better, in fact, if young people themselves are able to tell this story, just as Fragiacomo have been doing with students from the Sole 24 Ore’s 6th Master in Luxury and Fashion Management who have been engaged in a digital analysis project directly coordinated by the maison. Following the success of the first workshop that took place last year with collaborators from another top fashion school, the launch of the ecommerce platform involves the students and places them in centre stage, tasking them to undertake a detailed analysis of the online contact strategy and clustering activities of the brand’s customers.
“In this way – explains Silvia Nutini, Marketing and Communications Director of the brand – we have been able to fully involve our clients in an experience that is all about luxury and attention to quality and beauty.”
Another demonstration of how ‘Made in Italy’ is, once again, a winning concept.