Half way there

Many of us spent the break traveling around or went home. We have come back felling refreshed and ready for a new semester. During Christmas I had the wonderful opportunity of spending the holiday with a Sicilian Family, where we basically sat at the table half of the day, between breakfast, lunch, aperitivo and dinner; enjoying not only the food but also the intense conversations. Moreover we spent the other half of the day harvesting and picking the fruits and vegetables to be used.

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Now back in Firenze, I keep falling more and more in love with it, rediscovering new places with a different perspective. I might not be a local, but getting outside the student FIT bubble has truly helped me to absorb further the culture in addition to get to know myself better.

FERRAGAMO: History that is RTW

Today, the FM students visited to the Salvatore Ferragamo headquarters, located here in Florence above the Ferragamo flagship and museum. The corporate offices are in an incredible Renaissance palace, belonging to Ferragamo since the 1940′s.

We met with their Management/Merchandising team, an elegant group who carry out all of the production, from sourcing raw materials and working with the design team, to fashion shows and in-store delivery which is of course, global.

It’s inspiring to see how the legacy of Salvatore is carried out and translated to RTW, something that Mr. Ferragamo did not specifically specialize in. The team still uses values and construction processes from almost century ago.

After a lovely and informative presentation, we had a coffee reception with the team and heard some wise words from Ferruccio Ferragamo, son of Salvatore, pictured below. What a privilege! We then concluded our appointment with a visit to the museum, now featuring an exhibit of Marilyn Monroe.

Blonde Ambition

A couple of weeks ago, my classmates and I were graced with the presence of Nita Tucker. She’s a writer, journalist, relationship-expert, consultant, and the founder of The Florentine — Florence’s only newspaper written in completely English. She is truly an inspirational woman, and if you don’t believe me, ask Oprah, who featured Nita on her show some years ago. One of our wonderful professors happens to be good friends with Nita, and thankfully she was in town and was able to stop by to share some of her wisdom. She shared a lot about her life and what she’s been through. At the age of 50, she realized that she had never lived in Europe (a dream of hers), and felt that it was “now or never.” Having been in love with Italy and particularly Florence, she made a decision to drop everything and come to Firenze with minimal cash and few people to call a friend. This, my friends, is cold, hard, precarious chancery. Her husband was not as supportive as he could have been, and her children were young, but she had a feeling in her gut that this was the right move. She told us about her struggles, and about her triumphs. She experienced things significant enough to write a couple of books about. Eventually, Nita took it upon herself to begin a newspaper in English—a brilliant idea, considering the second most common language spoken in Florence is English, after Italian, naturally. It was a huge risk, and certainly required guts on her end. She sacrificed a lot in order for the Florentine to work out, but today it’s read by English speakers and Italians alike. She told us that some English professors in Florence use articles from it to help teach their students English. Not only are their issues all over town, but they are present online, with an easy to navigate website. Evidently, things worked out for Nita, and this brought her to a socialite-status in Florence. She spoke about being friends with the Ferragamos, and on her website you’ll find photos of her posing in beautiful gardens, looking intellectual at book-readings, and speaking with Ted Kennedy. Nita is not your average American-turned-Italian.

When it all boils down, Nita is just an ambitious, curious, sweetheart. She’s got strong intuition, lofty goals, and an incredible drive. She’s got insight like you’ve never seen, and this has been displayed in her speeches and in her books (she’s published about 5). She was kind enough to inform us of her favorite hot-spots in Florence, which was definitely helpful for us students. Aside from all of this, she gave us some great, unforgettable advice.

Here are some things that stuck in my mind:

  • “If you see an open door, go inside. You never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet.” We were told that people here are generally open-minded and inviting. If you receive an opportunity of any kind, take it! What’s the worst that could happen?
  • “Try to be interested, not necessarily interesting.” This reminds me to show people that you care about them and what they have to say, as opposed to superimposing your supposed “greatness,” and being selfish.
  • Florence is definitely not the place for shy/timid people. Everybody here is very outgoing and charismatic.
  • Italians are all about establishing relationships, through which people are overtly amiable and helpful. There is not so much customer service as there is kindness and personal relationships. If you’re nice, people will reciprocate. If you enter a store and simply say hello, you will be well respected.
Hearing Nita speak definitely opened Florence up to me, and explained a lot of the traditions and customs that I have seen but not quite understood.

What’s Gucci, yo?

Hey guys!

My name is Zach, and I’m studying International Fashion Merchandising/Marketing in Florence for my 3rd year at FIT. I’m pleased to say that I’ll be blogging for the FIT in Florence blog now!

Today, us Merchandising/Marketing students took a trip to the GUCCI Headquarters, located in Scandicci, just outside of Florence. In this particular building, there are 1,200 employees. Despite the pouring rain, we were all wide-eyed and excited to see the secrets held inside of this huge designer facility. Upon arrival, we received guest passes with our names on them to be worn around our necks.

We were greeted warmly by a girl who was not much older than us students. She studies part time in Milan and works full time as an assistant to the Production Manager for Gucci in Scandicci. She gave us a tour of each department of the facility. Here, they develop products and create all of the prototypes which are then sent out to 60 different factories who produce and assemble the goods. We were shown an archive of every textile used for their accessories. Every kind of leather (crocodile, python, Louisiana alligator, ostrich) with every type of finish imaginable. I personally loved the black “rubberized” leathers. The things I’d do for a motorcycle jacket of this material! We saw furs of all forms and colors, synthetic materials, sheet-thin deer-skin, and more. The artisans showed us how they cut the leathers, using only the most flawless parts of the leather and using the less-nice parts for finishing touches and small goods. They source from the best tanneries located in Florence. Everything is hand cut using a very tiny, special cutting knife that’s sharpened before every use. Going through the workshop, we saw tons of skilled workers, each working on a different Gucci product, mainly handbags. There is only one man who makes the customized travelling trunks. They take about a month to make each, and sell for an unimaginable amount. You can take your pick from buying a new house, or a hand-made Gucci trunk. Some recent clients mentioned were Rihanna and John Travolta (who apparently uses his two trunks as coffee tables). They can be made with any textile of your choice, and are finished with luxurious hardware, usually gold. Lastly, we were taken to “the bamboo room.” This is where they finish, heat and reform stalks of bamboo for their famous “bamboo bag”. The bamboo is imported from China, and only the roots are used because they are strong and not hollow like the plant itself.

Walking through the halls of Gucci’s headquarters is an overwhelming feeling. We all know gucci, and the quality that is associated with it. Some of us know the crazy story of the Gucci family (Guccio’s vision, the rebellion of his grandchildren, Maurizio’s assassination). Gucci represents a powerhouse of a family, their struggles, and their triumphs. Along the walls are black and white photographs from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s, showing family members, celebrities, and handsome people wearing Gucci. The lights inside were bright and everything sparkling clean. I hope to someday work at a place like this.

The next time you see a Gucci bag, consider the amount of time and effort that goes into making it. Know that it passes through this facility in Scandicci, and is, in every aspect, a luxury item!

Dear Florence,

Dear Florence,

I will miss you. I will miss your mysterious streets that are full of adventure around every turn. I will miss the many historical buildings that seem to radiate with inspiration. I will especially miss all your many different flavors of gelato, and your mastery of hot chocolate. I will miss the fresh pasta, the real pizza and all the many different stores. You offered me an experience of a life time with people who were incredible to be around. Thank you for opening your heart and opening mine

Love you forever

 

Dear FIT in Florence,

I don’t think there is a better place on earth where I could have started my first year of College or my first step towards a fashion career.  You have offered me so many opportunities. I have traveled to Paris and Milan -two major fashion capitols- and I’m sure that was only possible with your help. I have been inside some of the world’s greatest trade shows such as the White Trade Show in Milan.  And I couldn’t have gotten to know 8 other talented girls and been able to make life long friends with each and everyone of them through a love of fashion without your help. It was because of you, all the teachers, staff, director, and those attending that made this year abroad… one of a kind.

Thank you a million times (Grazie Mille)

 

Dear First Year Girls,

YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!! Look at how much we have grown! Being daring enough to step out of the comfort zone of life and take a swing at enhancing every aspect of our lives! We have grown so much just in the past year and I can honestly say each one of us has something incredible to offer the world of fashion now that our Professors in Italy showed us what we could do and proved our capacities. Good luck to each one of you!

See you in New York!

 

Dear Readers,

Was Italy worth all the pain and trouble of long paper work trying to get a visa, or permit of stay. Was it worth the jet lag and culture shock… was it worth the sacrifice? Actually what sacrifice? This year I can honestly say was one of the best times and hardest times of my life. It pushed me academically to new heights, physically to new strength, and mentally to a new level of maturity. The Fashion I have learned about here and been able to explore is unmeasurable. This was the best decision hands down for school! If you are trying to decide whether to come here or stay in new york, ask yourself this: Which will take my inspiration and designs to the next level? For me, it was Italy.

Arrivederci and thanks for reading!