Online MBAs in Luxury Management are In Vogue

Digital degrees are paying closer attention to the sector as it globalizes and emphasizes sustainability and digitalization

The global luxury goods market has boomed over the past two decades, reaching €224bn in annual revenue, and the number of luxury consumers has surged from 140m worldwide to more than 350m.

At the same time, there is growing demand for luxury management programs. Many business school students want to work at prestigious luxury brands such as LVHM, Kering, Swatch Group and Richemont, whose products are more tangible than services.

As the luxury business becomes more global, with growth in sales powered increasingly by Chinese consumers, who make up more than 30 percent of luxury spending, Online MBA programs are paying closer attention to the sector.

But shares in luxury goods companies have suffered in recent years following a fall in luxury sales in China, a trend amplified by the Covid shutdown that hit luxury stores in China as well as the supply chains of western luxury brands.

In the UK, Warwick Business School, which is home to a longstanding Online MBA program, offers courses on luxury management to its online students. “We examine the dominance of western luxury brands and whether that will continue with the rise of China,” says Qing Wang, professor of marketing and innovation at WBS.

“The globalization of luxury is also presenting problems for brands and potentially undermining their authenticity, especially as different cultures tend to interpret the value and meaning of brands differently,” she adds. “How are brands changing their business models for emerging markets?” It is a question explored on Warwick’s luxury courses. […]

Many schools partner with local luxury brands, bringing in executives to teach students or sending students on work placements or consulting projects. MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management, in the heart of Milan, runs a partnership with a leading Italian fashion house, Prada. […]

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2020 Full Time MBA: the specialization in Luxury and Design Management

This MBA concentration at MIP aims to give students first-hand exposure to Italy’s luxury sector, with a study tour organized in important productive districts. The goal is to train professionals who are at ease working with the main trends underway.

Understanding the unique characteristics of the Made-in-Italy luxury sector, in order to be able to work in it by both innovating and preserving the tradition of historic brands: it’s the objective of the specialization in Luxury and Design Management, one of the four concentrations that since 2020 allow students in the Full Time MBA programme at MIP Politecnico di Milano to select an area of their choice to study in-depth. «Those who choose the luxury path will be able to discover the secrets of Italian companies, maybe still owned by the founding family, which however have been capable of becoming global leaders in the sector», explains Politecnico di Milano professor Alessandro Brun, Director of the Master in Global Luxury Management (MGLuxM) programme.

Luxury between strategy and operations

Specializations are paths that respond to specific needs of companies, which look for professionals trained in management, but also require more specific expertise. Luxury is one of these areas. «But luxury doesn’t only mean fashion», stresses Brun. «Instead, we mean everything that can be defined as high-end, in any sector. Sports cars, boating, jewellery, design, and furniture. And often foreign students are particularly interested in understanding the profound reasons for the global success of Made in Italy». The teaching methods of the Luxury and Design Management specialization have the same key characteristic of other concentrations: an eminently practical approach. «The first two weeks will have a more traditional start, even if bootcamp mode will already begin in this period, with projects assigned to students to carry out in close contact with company managers. In the first week, we’ll touch on strategic elements: what is luxury, who are the main players and how you compete in this sector, how you carry out a market analysis, how you establish positioning, up to the go-to-market strategy. In the second week, more operational issues are addressed: the sustainability of the supply chain, the different retail models, inventory management, the optimization of supply chain flows».

On the road to discover Made-in-Italy excellence

But it’s especially in the third week that all these elements are truly seen in action. «We have prepared what is a real study tour», says Brun, «a last week of bootcamp conceived and organized as a trip through the Italian productive landscape. We’ll set out from Milan by bus. The first stop will be in the Modena area, a territory with a great production of luxury autos; but there will also be an opportunity to visit a vinegar factory, since balsamic vinegar is also a product with luxury characteristics in the world of food. We’ll then move on to Tuscany, where there are equally interesting districts: leather goods and shoes come to mind. In these years, by the way, we have been working closely with Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo. We also couldn’t skip a few exclusive experiences tied to wine, all accompanied by managers who will talk to us about innovative ideas and business models».

The trends in luxury professions

The objective of this specialization is to contribute to moulding professionals that can take on not only the most traditional roles in the sector, but also those tied to rapidly developing trends. «Let’s think about the centrality of online sales channel in China. By now the use of the web to purchase luxury products is an accepted practice, but you need to be able to manage technological and customer journey elements to guarantee the customer the experience they are looking for», explains Brun. «Not less important is the issue of visibility and traceability: this includes communication, security, the fight against counterfeiting, and sustainability. Luxury companies must design global distribution chains that are a guarantee for purchases. A third issue then involves the challenge of innovation, to implement while maintaining ties to tradition: a luxury good must at the same time be perfectly modern and rich in history. Here you see the ability of those of who know how to manage innovation and design. And a single skill isn’t enough. Several ones are necessary, and you need to know how to integrate them», concludes Brun.

Covid-19 impact on Luxury Industry

How the pandemic will change luxury consumers behavior


Prof. Alessandro Brun, Professor of Quality Management, Director of the Master of Global Luxury Goods and Services Management (MGLuxM)
Coauthor Cecilia Castelli Extended Faculty MIP Graduate School of Business
School of Management Politecnico di Milano


Last week, luxury groups posted their Q1 2020 results and – not surprisingly – numbers are confirming that even the industry that doesn’t know crisis capitulated to the effect of Covid-19 outbreak. Hermes proved to be “the” evergreen luxury, with “just” a single digit reduction in Q1 revenues (-6.5% vs Q1 2019). Double digit losses for LVMH (-15%), Kering (-15.4%); Moncler posted a -18%, after 24 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth.

In this scenario, brands are reflecting upon the future of luxury industry after the pandemic.

The most important reflection is that the lockdown is changing the habit of people globally. I think that, after the emergency will be over, some of the luxury consumers will change their spending pattern permanently.

  • Wealth, not income – If before the outbreak, HENRYs (High-Earning, Not Rich Yet) would spend a considerable fraction of their disposable income in luxury goods and experiences, after the lock-down several families may have limited cash availability for superfluous spending, while HNWI (High Net Worth Individuals) may have their spending capacity unaffected.
  • For those who will stay home – people will travel less – especially flights will be affected – due to governmental restriction, fear of infection, companies organizing more efficient conference calls in place of face-to-face meetings. This will impact negatively on some channels (especially Travel Retail), specific destinations (e.g. Las Vegas), specific customer segments in the flagship stores of world’s fashion capitals (Chinese visiting Milan, London, Paris, and exploiting tax free shopping), and product categories (suitcases and luggage). On the contrary, many people are rediscovering the joy of cooking (in March 2020, Bread machines was the second fastest growing category in eCommerce after disposable gloves, according to a Stackline study1), Hence, with the reopening, socialization occasions may happen at home, and categories such as Art de la Table may benefit.
  • Hedonistic experiences – After the sacrifices of lock-down, customers will crave for hedonistic products and services to satisfy the need of self-indulgence and personal pampering – shifting away from the “band-wagon effect” and moving into the “luxury as a personal affair” area. Premium beauty products, but also home-spa and home-wellness, and intense sensorial experiences in the fine food and drinks territory, could benefit.
  • Responsible luxury – The pandemic outbreak stimulated deep societal reflections around the main theme of “where is humanity going?”. Consumers will be even more aware of sustainability, and brands and product categories allowing “responsible consumption” will be privileged. Giorgio Armani penned an open letter to WWD, in which he challenged the current fast-fashion mindset, saying he believes in an “approach to the design and making of garments that suggests a way of buying them: to make them last”2.
  • Looking for discounts – if, on the one hand, we could expect a wave of anti-consumerism, the habit of waiting for end-of-season sales and doing pilgrimages to Factory Outlets and buying from off-price channels will be further strengthened by the self-appeal to frugality. If brand and retailers would resort to significant discounts to get rid of the unsold SS20 collection, they would risk to foster the vicious circle of off-price and bargain hunts. A recent McKinsey study revealed that special promotions were the main reason for purchasing clothing during the crisis for 56% of consumers3.
  • Online is the new normal – the transition to a life in the digital world was accelerated as through a time warp, and customers are buying more online as well as consuming more digital content. This represents a major change in paradigm. When we started designing the first “Master in eFashion” at MIP, 15 years ago, the online penetration in the Personal Luxury Goods segment was only 1%. In 2013, according to a McKinsey study, 44% of the 220B€ total luxury sales were influenced by digital – yet the perspective was still that the brick and mortar retail was the “normal” way to make business. Whether the perspective in the post-pandemic will turn 180 degrees, so that the online will be the norm and the brick and mortar will be a way to “support” it’s hard to say. But one think is unquestionable: a brand without a strong online presence, today, is a non-existing brand in the eyes of many a consumer.
  • When your own initials are enough – Economic theories say that after a “quarantine of consumption” (as Li Edelkoort defined this unprecedented period of forced fast from conspicuous consumerism4), consumers may switch “revenge spending”5.

But after the lockdown is over, the world will enter into a “stage 2” of the war, in which the Covid enemy will still be there in the battlefield, thus reducing the appetite for conspicuous consumption. Before the crisis, brands with a very bold visual identity (such as Gucci) were performing extremely well thanks to the enthusiasm of brand sensitive customers – but in a climate of “social thriftiness”, luxury consumers could steer towards the quality and intimacy of “no-logo brands”, as they are finally understanding the meaning of Bottega Veneta payoff (“When your own initial are enough”: there’s room for feel-good purchases even without a big flashy logo on your t-shirt).

  • A renewed pride for local producers – this may vary in strength on different markets and for different product categories, but we are already witnessing the first signs that are forewarning the rise of full-fledged “buy local” movements.


1 J. Styrk. The top 100 fastest growing and declining categories in eCommerce. Stackline, March 31st, 2020

2 L. Zargani. “Giorgio Armani writes open letter to WWD”. WWD, April 3rd, 2020

3 Amed, Berg, Balchandani, Hendrich, Rölkens, Young, Jensen. The State of Fashion 2020: Coronavirus Update. BoF e McKinsey&Company

4 M. Fairs. “Coronavirus offers ‘a blank page for a new beginning’ says Li Edelkoort”, Dezeen, March 9th, 2020

5 N. Gopalan. “Revenge is a dish that’s off the china menu”, Bloomberg, April 21st, 2020

Luxury Management Talks – Webinars

Discover the fundamentals of Luxury Management and how the Covid-19 pandemic is changing the rules of the games, in an unprecedented series of free webinars hosted by the Programme Directors of the most coveted Masters in Luxury Management.


Webinars contents

Thursday, June 18th, 6pm CEST  – Register here
Restarting Luxury retail post-pandemic
Hosted by Eleonora Cattaneo – Head of MA in Luxury Brand Management – Regent’s University London
Guest speaker Michael Ward, Harrods CEO
The webinar will be a talk show between a professor and a prominent British manager in the luxury world.

Monday, June 22nd, 6pm CEST – Register here
Is Lux always on my mind?
Hosted by Roberta Crespi – Director of EMLux – Università Cattolica
The webinar will be focused on the different communication scenarios luxury industry could face in the next future.

Monday, June 29th, 6pm CEST – Register here
The future of luxury brands in the Indian market
Hosted by Smita Jain, Director | MGLuxM SP Jain School of Global Management.

Here is the list of the other forthcoming webinars – follow us for updated calendar

Talents for Luxury
Hosted by Nicoletta Giusti – Director of MSc in Luxury Management – GLION
The webinar will focus on the skills and capabilities needed in the luxury industry to excel in the rapidly evolving and fiercely competitive scenario.

Past events

Monday, May 11th, 6pm CEST 
What is luxury all about? How the pandemic will change the perception of customers.
Hosted by Annalisa Tarquini – Director of MSc in Luxury Management – IUM
Guest speaker Bertrand Petyt
The webinar was focused on how this pandemic is changing the perception of customers on what luxury is all about, and the changes that luxury brand need to implement to still be relevant in tomorrow’s market, with a special focus on luxury services. Watch the video of the event here.

Monday, May 18th, 6pm CEST 
Sustainability in the Personal Luxury Goods industry
Hosted by Alessandro Brun – Director of MGLuxM – MIP Politecnico di Milano
Guests speakers Hakan Karaosman, Expert at United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and Matteo Ward, co-founder of Wrad
The webinar was focused on the renewed wave of sustainability and responsible luxury that we expect in the aftermath of COVID-19. Watch the video of the event here.

Monday, May 25th, 6pm CEST  
The Luxury Industry at the time of COVID-19
Hosted by Alberto Festa – Director of Master in Luxury Management – Luiss Business School 
The webinar was focused on the new challenges for luxury brands at the time of COVID-19: financial impact for retail and supply chains; reengineering the new collection development; new approach to fashion shows.

Wednesday, June 3rd – 6pm CEST 
Luxury consumer experience: What does it mean today?
Hosted by Michel Phan – Director of MSc in Luxury Management – Emlyon Business School
The webinar was focused on the new meaning that Luxury consumer experience has today. Watch the video of the event here.

Monday, June 15th – 5pm CEST
Digital communication strategies during the lockdown
Hosted by Fabrizio Pini – Director of IMLUX – MIP Politecnico di Milano
The webinar was focused analyse the communication strategies of a number of luxury brands, during the current, unprecedented lockdown that boosted the crave for digital contents of consumers worldwide. Watch the video of the event here.

2020 – Responsible Luxury is no longer a passing fad

As the second fifth of the 21st century begins, no industry can avoid the challenge of boosting its sustainability. Luxury is no exception to this, but what if responsibility were an inherent part of luxury?

Alessandro Brun, Associate Professor of Quality Management, Director of Global Executive Master of Luxury Management and Founder of the Sustainable Luxury Academy

As the end of 2019 approaches, we are now suddenly realising that a fifth of the 21st century has already passed. And that an idea murmured by a choice few at the turn of the century has now grown to become the buzzword heard everywhere. No sectors can escape from public demand for a more sustainable and ethical business!
This is particularly true when it comes to the premium & luxury segment of most consumer goods sectors: from fashion to jewellery to beauty, the conversation about “responsible luxury” is now ubiquitous.

On 8th November, Prada’s US headquarters played host to a conference entitled “Shaping a Sustainable Future Society”: the third event in the “Shaping a Future” series which, this year, focused on Social Sustainability. On 5th December, Assolombarda (the Lombardy chapter of the Italian Entrepreneurial Association) hosted the event “4sustainability”, which saw 200 players from the textile and leather supply chains collaborating with international coalitions (such as ZDHC, Leather Working Group, Textile Exchange) and leading luxury brands in an attempt to develop reliable and shared measurement systems to assess sustainability performance. On 20th November, the Politecnico di Milano hosted the Responsible Luxury Summit, marking the third anniversary of the founding of the Sustainable Luxury Academy. This is merely the tail end of an extremely intense Milan autumn season for me and my team at the Sustainable Luxury Academy: earlier on, 10 Corso Como (a concept shop blending lifestyle, culture and commerce) hosted “A New Awareness”, whilst the Fashion Film Festival Milano hosted the conversations “FFFMilanoForGreen”.

It is important to explain why sustainable luxury is not a trend, let alone a passing fad. Sustainability is one of the central themes of the paradigm shift taking place in the business of luxury.
Before illustrating what is going to happen in the luxury sector in the 2020s, let us briefly recap what has happened to luxury iver the past 3 decades. In December 1998, professors Jose Luis Nueno and John A. Quelch published a paper in Business Horizons entitled “the Mass Marketing of Luxury”. They explained the reasons behind the double-digit worldwide growth of the luxury market since the mid-1990s, and concluded the paper highlighting a challenge, namely that top managers of luxury brands would have to decide “how far to democratise the brand through line extensions, junior product lines, affordable accessories and expanding distribution.”
This was extremely effective – perhaps even too effective. In 2007, American journalist Dana Thomas published a very illuminating report on how managers of top luxury brands had addressed the above challenge, and asked some questions worth pondering: Has the luxury of some products got lost? Have prices gotten out of hand? Has distribution become too widespread? In fact, the renowned Altagamma Worldwide Luxury Market Monitor labels the period from 1994 to 2000 as the “sortie du temple” of luxury brands, followed – in the years 2001-2008 – by the democratisation of luxury.

Why did this happen? As per Nueno and Quelch’s writings, the “nouveau riche […] can afford to indulge in the purchase of luxury brands, but lack the experience and confidence to discriminate”. What happened during the democratisation was a surge in the middle-class consumption of luxury goods. This global trend is called “trading up” (a neologism coined by American authors Silverstein and Fiske in their book “Trading Up: The New American Luxury”). As such, the middle class can also afford (albeit less frequently) to indulge in the purchase of luxury brands nowadays.
Whilst the publication of “the Mass Marketing of Luxury” marked, on the one hand, the beginning of the democratisation of luxury, it also heralded, on the other, the death of luxury as we (at least the lucky ones) knew it.

What happened in the first two decades of the third millennium is clear to everybody. According to the Altagamma report published in spring 2019, the global market of personal luxury goods grew from USD 76B in 1996 to USD 260B in 2018.

Given the evolution of the past few years, both in terms of Personal Luxury Goods and in the luxury sector more generally, it is now important to look ahead and try to understand what is about to happen. Global trends in Luxury in 2019 are well summarised in the NExTT framework by CB Insights, under which which trends are classified according to their market strength and industry adoption:

  • Trends with a high level of adoption but low strength are considered Transitory: Attracting Millennials with Collaboration is classified in this group.
  • RFiD Tagging, Authentication Tech, Ethical Consumption and Lab-grown Luxury Materials all belong to the Threatening trend group: adoption is still low, but their strength is high.
  • Necessary trends are characterised by both high strength and widespread adoption: here we have Pop-Ups, the Resale Channel, and Luxury Streetwear.
  • Trends like Luxury Goods on the Blockchain are considered Experimental, due to their low strength and low adoption level.

Here it is quite easy to envisage a scenario in which multiple trends are pointing in the same direction. Luxury brands cannot pretend to be blind to the power of millennials. Their voices called for bulky trainers – and all brands reacted by offering Luxury Streetwear. But millennials are also asking for more transparency, exploiting simple solutions (hence why a “simple” RFiD tag is considered Threatening whilst the Blockchain is not relevant at the moment) to provide more visibility throughout the supply chain. They are requesting environmentally-sustainable practices – calling for brands to stop the use of controversial materials (lab-grown materials could be the solution to such issues as incidental animal cruelty or materials which negatively affect endangered species, as well as ’blood’ diamonds) – as well as establish socially-responsible practices – to the point that ethically-responsible consumption poses a significant threat to some brands.

Before taking any action, brands should seek a deeper understanding of the meaning of being responsible.

Being responsible nowadays means being open and embracing new technologies – to guarantee cleaner processes, a more efficient use of resources, more opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle, – whilst at the same time going back to the industry’s roots – the heritage of luxury is in the artisanal processes, craftsmanship and savoir-faire, where the talented artisan was at the heart of the company, never to be considered a mere “human resource” in a big industrial, profit-oriented organisation.
Being responsible also means using storytelling in the right way: that is, using it as a means to connect or reconnect disconnected departments in the organisation. European artisans in the Middle Ages, the age of craftsmanship, were one-man shows, taking care of sales, product design and manufacturing. Today, the storytelling of a truly luxurious brand has to focus on the supply chain. The heritage of some brands – and even of some iconic items – is deeply rooted in sustainability. One need only think of the history of Ferragamo’s cork wedge shoes and the Gucci bamboo bag, two defining items in the history of fashion, both launched in years in which – due to sanctions – Italian companies could not make use of very basic and desperately-needed materials. Italian genius proved stronger than adversity, though: in the 20s, during the dictatorship in Italy, it was not possible to import steel from Germany; Ferragamo replaced the steel shank necessary to support women’s shoes, inventing the world-famous wedge using cork from Sardinia; meanwhile, in 1947, post-WWII, Gucci launched a new bag whose handles were made out of bamboo, a material that could be imported from Japan without restrictions.
The Swiss shoemaker Bally was founded in 1851, as the result of Carl Franz Bally’s desire to create more jobs and improve the lives of local residents. In its golden years (in 1916, when the rest of Europe was crippled by the World War, it had 7,000 employees), Bally was providing employees with unmatched social and healthcare benefits.

When somebody asks me whether sustainable luxury is an oxymoron or an opportunity, I can barely contain my smile when mentioning the above cases. Sustainable Luxury is neither an oxymoron nor an opportunity. True luxury is inherently, quintessentially sustainable by its very nature. Hence, sustainable luxury is a necessity.
I dream that, one day, all consumers will say “If it ain’t sustainable, it ain’t luxury”. That day is coming soon.

Prada Group gives its support to MIP Politecnico di Milano’s International Master in Luxury Management

Prada Group and Taittinger Champagne alongside prestigious IMLux Master, world leader in training luxury sector professionals


Held in collaboration with France’s NEOMA Business School, this programme awards a double qualification. 7th edition about to start, enrolment to the 8th opening in October


EdUniversal 2018 ranking places the International Master in Luxury Management (IMLux) in first place globally among all luxury management Masters (the two MBAs listed above it have a different focus). International luxury sector leader Prada Group is sponsoring the programme from this year, together with Taittinger Champagne.

This course is an Italo‐French collaboration between two of the world’s major countries for top‐of‐the‐range products. Participants will gain a double degree, a Master’s degree (1st level) from Politecnico di Milano and a “Master in Science from NEOMA Business School.

IMLux begins on 9th September 2019, and students can register to the 2020 edition from this October. Taught jointly by MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business and NEOMA Business School, in collaboration with Prada Group and Taittinger Champagne, this programme is designed for people keen to learn the skills necessary to hold key positions in luxury sector companies, which, by definition, demand very specific abilities and creativity.

The 12‐month full‐time programme and concluding project, all taught in English, is split into two, with half the course held in Rheims ‐ city of champagne ‐ and half in Milan ‐ a fashion capital ‐ within a very international environment, both for its student body (representing about 20 nationalities every year) and for its faculty and partner companies. This is a great opportunity for students to make contact with leaders in the worlds of fashion, cosmetics, furnishing, food and drink, hotels and automotive industry.

Stefano Rastrelli, HR Director for Prada Group: “We are fully aware of the great value of education in today’s landscape, and are delighted to announce that Prada Group is enthusiastically joining this project. We welcome the multicultural background of students from many countries and their wide range of multidisciplinary skills. It is a pleasure to support this programme with its geographic diversity and different inputs from the academic and business worlds”.

This Master is unique in that it works so closely with companies”, added Fabrizio Maria Pini, Course Director. “We do not restrict exposure to in‐class presentations and testimonials given by entrepreneurs and managers, or to proposing on‐site company visits, however important these are for a full immersion into the world of luxury. A key aspect is that companies are actively involved in the course and its material, students take on a real project and help to resolve problems and face challenges where a solution is really needed at that point in time”. Fabrizio Maria Pini then continued, “Another factor that makes this programme so unique is its integrated approach to creating value in the luxury sector. IMLux provides a detailed and extensive overview of the entire value creation chain, from coming up with an idea to the manufacturing processes, from supply chain to retail, and from online to offline communication”.

How My MBA Degree Helped Me Become An Entrepreneur

After developing her skills during an MBA hackathon, Divya Singh is getting ready to launch her own luxury startup

The fashion world is changing as we move further into the 21st century. Right now, ‘uncertain’ is the industry’s buzzword for the state of play.

According a report by McKinsey & Company—The State of Fashion 2019—2018 was the year that saw fashion executives think less about survival and more about their brand’s strategic agenda and business model.

That those in the creative industries need to be business savvy is old news, and the knowledge accrued on an MBA program is just as important for those in fashion as it is for any other industry.

Divya Singh knows this all too well. With a background in fashion design, she enrolled on the International Part-Time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano to gain a holistic understanding of the business side of fashion.

How my MBA degree helped me become an entrepreneur

Divya—who is a current MBA student—says that MIP appealed to her because of the variation of case studies on offer, which allow students to focus on the industry they’re most interested in. MBAs can also enhance their education by taking elective weeks in modules on the Executive MBA.

It was the MBA competitions, though, that turned Divya into an entrepreneur, and put in her in the position to launch her own luxury startup.

She recently completed two competitions. The Mark Challenge hosted by the University of Monaco, and Shaping a Sustainable Digital Future, patroned by The Prada Group.

In Monaco, Divya and her teammate, Fabio Masoero Regis, developed a luxury service business plan, winning the competition with their startup idea UBIQUE: a digitized luxury concierge service.

They didn’t stop there though. As finalists from Italy for the Prada Competition, the pair flew to New York late last year, adapting UBIQUE to the sustainability ideals the challenge championed.

An intense two-day hackathon saw them team up with three non-MBA students from Yale University and present their idea to a board of Yale and MIP Politecnico di Milano professors, as well as executives from the Prada Group.

Divya thinks that it’s these experiences which distil the learning of an MBA, preparing her best for the turbulent future of the fashion industry.

“Working with students who weren’t MBAs, with people with backgrounds in architecture for example, meant we could perfectly merge business know-how with creativity,” she explains, “the competition allowed me to apply my MBA learning in a real and rewarding way.”

She adds that managing team dynamics was integral to their group’s success, as they worked in a high-pressure environment with demanding time constraints.

Divya says that she developed speedy decision making, patience when dealing with language barriers, and alternative ways of doing business with people from cultures different than her own.

The competitions have proved so valuable to Divya’s professional development that she is now getting ready to launch UBIQUE as a real-life startup.

That entrepreneurial mindset is an important part of the MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano. The startup mentality is something the school helps to cultivate throughout the curriculum with the dedicated PoliHub incubator—ranked second in Europe and third in the world by UBI Global—which offers support and services to budding entrepreneurs.

Why creatives should study an MBA

It is, in part, because of these competitions that Divya believes MBAs are such important tools for creatives.

Whilst many complete an MBA for the rapid career progression and salary increase after graduating, Divya thinks creatives can tend to view an MBA as more of a tool for self-development.

It can help to position creative professionals well for disruptions in their respective industries, as they understand the nitty-gritty numbers as much as the creative process.

“If you don’t study things like finance operations it’s hard to pick them up on your own,” Divya says, “learning how to read reports, and how to understand your business from all viewpoints, puts you in a better position to genuinely evaluate how you’re doing.”

Divya also believes that her creative background is enhancing the dialogue of her class, as she’s providing an alternative outlook to business problems that many of her peers (from more traditional MBA backgrounds) are not familiar with but are equally excited about and benefiting from.

“Teamwork is the basis of all the competitions,” she concludes, “and it’s the mixture of backgrounds and nationalities that perfectly blend creative, analytical, and business thinking which MBAs can thrive off.”


Originally published on 

Luxury in the time of Instagram

Once upon a time there were glossy magazines. Now there’s Instagram. And luxury brands are taking advantage of it.

With due caution, however, because if on one hand the opportunity to address potential customers directly is huge, on the other we’re talking about a world whose rules are constantly changing.

Finding a balance between community involvement and preserving one’s status isn’t at all easy. «Luxury has always worked on the idea of exclusive distribution and on a consequent communication», explains Professor Fabrizio Maria Pini, Director of the International Master in Luxury Management at Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management. «Digital media, instead, in the beginning was perceived as something undefined and standardized. In a context in which everyone could create everything, the showcasing of a luxury product, which is characterized by its high symbolic and narrative content, seemed to lose its fascination. There’s a big difference between a digital showcase and a boutique».

The social media landscape is so varied and fluid that it becomes impossible to identify a single strategic model: «Luxury companies can adopt extremely innovative strategies, with which they immerse themselves in the communicative flow of social media, interacting directly with users and potential customers, or to the contrary remain attached to models that are actually still quite similar to the publication of magazine ad campaigns».

However, luxury brands certainly haven’t just stood and watched over the years. «They started late but are now forging ahead» says Pini. And numbers confirm it. In particular, Instagram has shown itself to be the most appetizing for fashion brands. In 2017 a study carried out by L2, a company specialized in digital performance metrics, reported 53% growth in the number of followers. Thanks also to fashion bloggers: Professor Pini defines them as «luxury translators, who in the beginning knew how to take advantage of unchartered social territory. While first they were perceived almost as enthusiastic groupies, today they are perhaps the concrete embodiment of the change of the relations of strength in the world of fashion. At the expense, for example, of more institutional actors that are perceived as being more qualified, like journalists».

«It is precisely the influencers, now, who act as a filter and link between the brand and its potential consumers» continues Pini. «While previously customers followed a brand, now brands must try to break into the conversation, because being found has become more problematic».

The current transition phase also leaves room for experimenting with new production strategies, perhaps with the use of new profiling strategies. The leitmotiv in this case is the same: «Some companies continue to think of collections and lines in a traditional way, younger brands instead start with community involvement».

However, daring also means risking. One false step is enough to generate a reputation crisis, which is much more difficult to manage than in the past: «The rules of conversation are different from those of communication, and icons usually communicate, they don’t converse» reflects Fabrizio Maria Pini. «In addition, social conversations are very rapid, while large and structured companies are necessarily slower to react. To gather the information needed for a response, at times it can be necessary to involve different corporate functions. In the meantime, however, other stories take hold on social networks and become dominant. Thus, there is a struggle between narratives and myths. But sometimes there’s nothing to do but to apologize and admit one’s mistakes. This is also a big difference compared with the past: in other times brands didn’t take into consideration the idea of declaring themselves wrong».

Milan is always more fashionable

From 19 to 25 February Milan is at the centre of the world. The reason? Fashion Week, an international event that celebrates one of the  city’s calling cards: six intense days of meetings that draw professionals and fashion lovers from every continent.

The calendar of the event, organised by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (Italian Chamber of Fashion) and dedicated to autumn/winter 2019 womenswear, is rich in appointments and foresees 60 fashion shows, 81 presentations, 33 events, for a total of 173 collections.  As in the last editions, there is no shortage of events that are also open to non-professionals, allowing the public, and in particular fashion sector students, to get to know the reality of Made in Italy fashion, from big companies that marked its history to emerging talents.

“Great attention to new talents and internationality”, said Carlo Capasa, president of Camera della Moda about this edition. “There are many brands present in Milan for the first time, thanks to our support. Supporting new talents is one of our pillars, along with sustainability”.

Among newcomers are Gilberto Calzolari and Tiziano Guardini, winners of the Franca Sozzani GCC Award respectively in 2017 and 2018, who will present their collections.  Also highly anticipated are the debuts of Marco Rambaldi for Marios, of the Portuguese designer Alexandra Moura and of the brand of Mayo Loizou and Leszek Chmielewsk. As for the big names, this edition is marked by the return of Gucci, Angel Chen and Bottega Veneta with Daniel Lee.

«The Milanese event is one of four important “fashion weeks” that take place twice a year throughout the world: the others are those of Paris, London and New York – says Alessandro Brun, Director of the Master In Global Luxury Management at the School of Management of  Politecnico di Milano –. It’s an important appointment both for big fashion houses and young designers and emerging brands, which can showcase themselves in a “live” event. It’s also an important moment for the entire city: fashion shows are held in different locations, often in redeveloped areas like Tortona, Garibaldi-Porta Nuova-Isola, Piazzale Lodi, with great benefits also for local businesses».

In short, Milanese fashion sells, as last year’s figures confirm.  The sector’s more vibrant than ever and growing constantly.

Fashion companies in the city total 13,000, while Lombardy – the leading Italian region for the fashion business region – has almost 34,000. Textile exports from Lombardy in the first nine months of 2018 neared 10 billion euros, up 3.6% on the previous year. The city of Milan alone exceeded 5 billion euros, with growth of 6.4%, confirming its position as absolute leader.

Last year’s Fashion Week brought Milan earnings of 19 million euros in the hospitality sector alone, up 2 million on the 2017 edition. The total economic impact for related industries (transport, museums, shops, restaurants) hit 160 million euros, involving some 137,000 employees and 18,000 companies.

The 2019 edition, starting from these premises, aimed at reinforcing, with the support of the City of Milan, the connection between fashion and territory using for events unusual spaces like Palazzo Reale’s Sala delle Cariatidi or the Cavallerizze space in the Museum of Science and Technology. Also planned is the presentation, on the part of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, of the film “Welcome to Milano”, produced by The Blink Fish, in which a group of models takes spectators to explore Milan and its most secret places.

So years go by, but Milan never goes out of fashion. «But it’s good to keep a close eye on changes – says Alessandro Brun –. The big brands are increasingly paying attention to costs compared to the past. And then there are new technologies and new ways of doing things: Burberry launched the first global fashion show in 2010, presenting the autumn-winter collection in live streaming on seven different sites and projected in 3D in the theatres of five different cities and a few years after that offered the possibility of buying in shops the very items shown at the same time on the catwalk, revolutionising the paradigm that saw fashion shows present clothing well in advance of their sale.

 But I don’t believe this can endanger the Milanese event, which boasts an over 60-year history. Indeed, the city remains a reference point for the entire Italian fashion system, whose total revenue rose from 52 billion euros in 2011 to 54 billion in 2017 thanks to the contribution of 46,000 companies and over 400,000 workers.  Our product quality and Italian craftmanship are recognised for their excellence internationally».