So why is a Fashion Business education so important? Believe it or not, fashion is influencing a whole variety of sectors, or so we were told by Pia Stanchina, Industry Manager for Fashion at none other than digital mega-brand Google. LCF News picked her brains about why creative graduates are so valuable in the business world today…
LCF News: Why does fashion mean business to you?
I came to London and studied fashion design at CSM and at the time I spent a lot of time looking around for a degree that would encompass both the creative side and business, and it was more or less impossible to find something. I ended up doing a Masters in business because I really felt like I didn’t understand fully how the industry worked and what in the end made decision makers in industry do what they were doing – what was influencing their decisions?
To understand how fashion works you need to understand the business element of it. People think it’s all frills and fashion shows and models and champagne, but it’s actually a really tough industry and it works at an incredibly fast paced rhythm.
LCF News: How important is it for graduates to have business knowledge if they want to work in fashion?
I think it’s very important to get a business education, to the point where I wish my daughter would already be getting it in school.
We live in a capitalist system and if you don’t understand how that works then you are basically functioning in a system that you don’t completely comprehend and you don’t know the rules of the game. That’s really how I felt after I studied fashion design, I knew how to be creative and how to create beautiful things, but I had no idea how to cost the products, I had no idea how much I should be paying my pattern cutter, and I had no idea how to do anything to do with actively running a business. Which is ultimately why I went to business school and really felt like suddenly I understood the world.
LCF News: What is it about art school and creative graduates that companies, like Google, find so useful?
At Google we love working with arts graduates because of this creative element. If you think back maybe ten years, technology was really a lot more geeky, and previously when I think about what we had at Google, there wasn’t really much there. Nowadays, we have products and platforms and a format that really allow you a lot of creative freedom to create an interactive and immersive experience.
At Google we love discussing how we can use digital technology to enhance offline experiences as well as online. Burberry is an amazing example of using technology in-store to enhance the experience.Vice-versa we like to see how we can use technology to create some of the traditionally offline theatre and magic of fashion and actually bring it into e-commerce sites, which can often be very trading oriented and not very interactive or inspirational. It is for this reason that creative graduates are the perfect people to hire.
LCF News: How is fashion influencing all sectors?
We see it converging a lot with fashion and food, fashion and fitness, and now also fashion and technology. A really great example is Apple. If you look at what fashion is traditionally great at, creating a lifestyle and the sense of tribal belonging, Apple are really moving strongly in that direction. There’s clearly an understanding at the moment that there’s magic and an aspirational factor that fashion can lend to any industry.
LCF News: How are Google working collaboratively with fashion?
We are very interested in collaborating with other brands, and there have been a number of collaborations in recent years, for instance with Diane von Furstenberg where her models walked down the catwalk wearing Google Glass, to her then actually designing a range of glassware that also went on sale.
Probably the opposite spectrum of that is the work we are doing here in London with the British Fashion Council. We are working together with them on the ‘Digital Pillar’ which is tasked with making London the most innovative and digitally advanced fashion week in the world. As part of that we are trying to bring 100 designers online to really compete on a global level.
We also work with lots of other brands for example Burberry and Mr Porter. We are really keen on working with other brands, especially when we are bringing out new products.