(GMBA - Luxury Brand Management)

As the third destination of our field trip in Italy, the ESSEC GMBA Luxury Brand Management had the privilege to visit Valextra’s Flagship Store in Milan.

The story of Valextra begins in 1937 when Giovanni Fontana founded the first Valextra boutique in Piazza San Babila, Milan. Inspired by the city of Milan with its architectural juxtapositions and inimitable urban elegance, Valextra has been one of Italy's oldest luxury leather-goods brands, a symbol of iconic Italian craftsmanship for over 80 years.

Our visit started with a meeting with Ms. Chiara Bernardi, CMO, Brand Marketing and Communication Strategy, in a beautiful and sophisticated boutique. She took us on a two-hour journey of the brand, starting with Valextra's brand identity, which is a balance of Art and Design, that is, beauty and functionality, and continued with the history, what is happening with the brand today, and where the brand is headed in the future. We had the exceptional opportunity to hear about the Milanese craftsmanship behind the iconic Tric Trac wrist bag, first conceived in 1968, which still lives on at the heart of the brand, and the subtle details of the distinctive signature, Iside handbag. We were then fortunate to hear from the CEO, Mr. Xavier Rougeaux, who luckily was able to join us last minute due to his very intensive agenda and he shared with us numerous aspects of Valextra's global strategy.

The first question was : "What is design?" which then led to a deeper understanding of the Milanese luxury brand, which expresses an essential urban style where preservation and innovation coexist in symbiosis, fusing everyday function with aesthetic finesse. It was a great inspirational and precious experience for all of us studying in ESSEC GMBA Luxury Brand Management in Paris.


(GMBA - Luxury Brand Management)

On the final day of the field trip to Italy, the ESSEC GMBA Luxury Brand Management cohort of 2023 were lucky enough to visit Antico Setificio Fiorentino, a historic and one of the last remaining workshops for silk manufacturing in the world, located in Florence, Italy

It was founded in 1786 to produce silk fabrics for the royal court and for export to other European countries. In 1950s, Marquis Emilio Pucci of Barsento took over the majority stak
e in the Antico Setificio Fiorentino and began to produce fabrics intended to furnish the most prestigious homes of Italian and International nobility, for example, The mill has supplied fabrics for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. As of today, the mill is owned by the prestigious fashion house Stefano Ricci which ensures the future and continuation of this ancient artisan tradition by catering to several Italian as well as International design houses.

Antico Setificio Fiorentino is housed in a historic building in the San Frediano district of Florence, and visitors can tour the mill to see the production process and learn about the history of silk-making in Florence. Current production includes a wide range of Renaissance silk damasks, silk and linen brocade fabrics from various periods, and eighteenth-century silk lampas, all of which are used for both modern and classic furnishings and are produced on hand and semi-mechanical looms dating back to the late 18th century. Furthermore, the slow-paced procedure of these looms allows the creation of fabrics with unparalleled resistance, touch, and coloration, and the preparation on these looms is performed without any mounting or chemical treatment, resulting in a fully healthy and undamaged thread. Finally, patterns for the exquisite fabrics handed down over the centuries by the founding families are now stored in the historical archive of Antico Setificio Fiorentino.

Antico Setificio Fiorentino's history celebrates the precious fabrics brought to life by ancient looms as much today as it did in the past, and under the direction of Elisabetta Bardelli Ricci, Antico Setificio Fiorentino has paved the way for a new business strategy that focuses primarily on female expertise to bring a touch of exclusivity and modernity all over the world.

And so upon this note, our wonderful foray into the History, Heritage and Craftmanship of Italian luxury sadly came to an end, leaving us with many priceless memories and once in a lifetime experiences to always remind us of our time together and this amazing trip to Italy!



(GMBA - Luxury Brand Management)

ESSEC GMBA Luxury Brand Management candidates recently embarked on a memorable trip to Ornellaia, located in Toscana, Italy. Students were greeted by Ms. Greta Roscioni, Brand Manager at Ornellaia. As the cohort delved into the heart of this renowned estate, they discovered a captivating blend of history, nature, and art. Ornellaia, established in 1981, has continuously strived for excellence in winemaking, resulting in a timeless elegance that embodies the Italian lifestyle.

To kick off, Ms. Greta initiated the exploration by providing insightful knowledge about the terroir. Situated on a remarkable land, Ornellaia's vineyards possess a rich and diverse terroir. In the past, the area was submerged under the Mediterranean Sea, leaving behind soils intermixed with marine fossils. The estate meticulously divides its vineyards into numerous parcels, each with its own unique identity and expression. Nestled among the vines, the Mediterranean bush and forest create an enchanting backdrop.

During the subsequent segment of the tour, participants were introduced to Ornellaia's Vendemmia d'Artista project. Renowned contemporary artists are invited to create site-specific artworks that find inspiration in the estate's surroundings. Moreover, the artists design limited edition labels for the wine bottles, representing the chosen word that encapsulates the vintage's essence.

The participants also had the privilege of visiting the Ornellaia Archivio Storico, a testament to their illustrious heritage. Ornellaia’s commitment to crafting exceptional wines is reflected in the choice of grape varieties. The estate primarily cultivates Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are the mainstay of their red wines. Additionally, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot play supporting roles, adding complexity to the blends. For their white wines, Ornellaia utilizes grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Viognier, Verdicchio, and Vermentino. The vineyards are thoughtfully oriented towards the southwest, ensuring that the vines bask in the warmth of the setting sun, which beautifully sets over the nearby sea.

After the estate tour, attendees enjoyed a wine tasting session and indulged in a delightful lunch. Overall, the visit to Ornellaia was a captivating exploration of the winery's commitment to excellence, artistry, and the Italian way of life.



(GMBA - Luxury Brand Management)

Acqua Di Parma: How to Disrupt in Iconic Italian Lifestyle product.

On the first stop of this year’s Italy Field Trip, our ESSEC GMBA Luxury Brand Management trackers ventured into Luxurious and Sophisticated Italian Lifestyle Brand Acqua di Parma.

 Acqua di Parma has become synonymous with luxury and sophistication. Founded in 1916 in the city of Parma, Italy, the brand has a long and storied history of producing high-quality fragrances, skincare, and lifestyle products that are coveted by discerning individuals around the world. The brand's signature scent, Colonia, was created in 1916 and quickly became a favorite of the aristocracy and elite of Italy. Its unique blend of citrus and floral notes was a departure from the heavy, musky scents that were popular at the time, and it quickly gained a reputation as a refreshing and invigorating fragrance.

What sets Acqua di Parma apart from other luxury brands is its commitment to authenticity and tradition. The brand's products are still made in Italy using traditional methods and techniques, and the brand has remained true to its roots while still innovating and expanding its product line.This has earned them its reputation as a symbol of luxury and sophistication. Its commitment to quality, authenticity, and tradition has made it a favorite of discerning individuals around the world who appreciate the finer things in life.

During the presentation an interesting business case was put to our students, how to be disruptive with such an iconic product as Colonia in today’s market?

Their solution : a very successful collaboration with British artist and creative designer Samuel Ross. The idea with this collaboration was to capture the synergy between Acqua di Parma’s modern lightness and his creative work, bringing his signature sharp and rich tones to the clean, minimalist line of the classic emblematic Colonia, a timeless icon of craftsmanship and Italian style. By bridging Italian and British modernism with flat, rich, and bold colors, the series of unexpected and completely new creative elements highlights Colonia as an icon.

Many thanks to the Acqua Di Parma team for showing our Luxury Brand Management trackers how to successfully conceive and create a value adding collaboration that allows to intensify the iconizing of Colonia, and showing how it is recognizable beyond the label. The details and integrated strategies between areas are a key intake and highlight from this inspiring presentation.

What a better way to start this trip which aims to understand the Italian Luxury History, Heritage and craftmanship? Keep posted and join us through the other amazing brands that showcase the core of what Italian Luxury represents. 



(GMBA - Luxury Brand Management)

The ESSEC GMBA Luxury Brand Management cohort recently visited the Zegna’s Global Headquarters in Milan, Italy, welcomed by Benedetta Zegna (Internal Communication & Engagement Director) and some team members. Established as a fabric maker, ZEGNA is internationally recognised as a leading global luxury menswear brand and part of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group. We have been collaborating with the Zegna brand on employer brand activities since 2006 and it was a privilege to hear about their evolution since then and learn from their successes.


Founded in 1910 in Trivero, Italy, the Ermenegildo Zegna Group (NYSE: ZGN) is a leading global luxury group. The Group is the owner of the world-renowned ZEGNA and Thom Browne brands, and operates TOM FORD FASHION through a long-term license agreement with The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. The Group also manufactures and distributes the highest quality fabrics and textiles through its Luxury Textile Laboratory Platform.

We had an overview of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group's ESG strategy as well. In fact, at the Group’s core is a uniquely vertically integrated supply chain that brings together the best of Italian fine craftsmanship. Responsibility towards people, community and the natural world has been at the heart of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group’s belief since its founding by the Zegna family over 100 years ago. Ensuring the highest quality of products without compromising the quality of life for future generations is a commitment carried from the Group’s home in Italy to its operations around the world. 


Continuing with the presentation, the final part focused on Zegna People who embody the core values of Innovation & Creativity, Excellence, Entrepreneurship, Authenticity, Accountability, and Passion. During our visit, we gained an understanding of how the Zegna employer brand, "What Makes You, Makes Zegna," represents the collaborative spirit that drives the company's success. We also learned that the brand's proud legacy is not just a thing of the past, but a guiding force that inspires its employees to shape a vibrant tomorrow, while learning every step of the way.

It's remarkable to see how the company has achieved such incredible success while remaining true to its values and making a positive impact on the world.

Awestruck by this unique experience, we set out to our next visit to further explore the world of Italian luxury. Stay Tuned !