This post originally appeared on Mack in Style.
Ahhh, Italy. How is it possible that a single nation can be credited for giving the world pizza, pasta, and Prada? The Italians do a lot of things well, and fashion is one of those things. Unfortunately, in recent years the prominence of Italian high-fashion labels was falling by the wayside due to a lack of ingenuity and increased competition from foreign brands.
However, in the past year or so, the Italian fashion scene has been given a breath of new life, thanks in large part to young, innovative designers finally being given a chance to showcase their talents to the world.
And let’s not ignore the bigger picture – the fashion industry generates as much as €63 billion annually for the Italian economy. Cue politicians taking notice and providing financial aid to ensure that luxury craftsmanship remains “Made in Italy.”
Brands both old and new are breaking boundaries and taking the industry by storm. There are dozens of labels that we could swoon over, but we can’t talk about the rebirth of Italian fashion without mentioning these four:
Originally specializing in fur, Fendi has risen to become a household name through its tailored ready-to-wear and exquisite leather goods throughout its 90-year history. Although the god himself has been with the brand for a staggering 50 years, Karl Lagerfeld’s creative genius has altered Fendi’s image in recent years to appeal to a younger audience. From quirky “Bag Bugs”, to customized handbag straps, and pom-poms galore, Fendi is discarding any notion that high-fashion has to be stuffy.
To make itself even more accessible, the 90-year-old institution launched a new digital initiative in February 2017 titled “F is for Fendi”, which is targeted specifically towards millennials. This never-before-seen concept serves as a platform for Gen Y-ers to share their artistic talents with the world while maintaining an association with the brand, which lets the fashion house wear the hat of a content-sharing platform.
Despite the influence of its German-born creative director, Fendi remains quintessentially Italian. The maison is committed to producing its goods on Italian soil and even funded the restoration of Rome’s Trevi Fountain to the tune of $2.4 million, which culminated with an epic runway performance on the fountain itself for Fendi’s Autumn-Winter 2017 haute couture show.
A huge portion Italy’s fashion revival can be attributed to lesser-known brands that are changing the game. One of those brands is MSGM, a Milan-based company led under the direction of Massimo Giorgetti, who is also the new creative director at Emilio Pucci.
Founded in 2008, no two MSGM collections are ever alike. Giorgetti plays with prints and structures in a way that is eye-catching but still wearable. The brand also produces sweats and tees, giving its logo a lot of street cred.
MSGM has even collaborated with Milan’s sweetheart Chiara Ferragni on a limited-edition collection, using her social media power to get in front of other digital-native influencers. Lest we not forget that this Italian native is the world’s first major fashion blogger and by far the most successful. Speaking of which…
Dolce & Gabbana
No stranger to the social media scene, iconic label Dolce & Gabbana frequently taps fashion bloggers and others outside of the industry to take part in its shows (see @PeaceLoveShea and @negin_mirsalehi) making an appearance on the FW-2017 runway. The company was also one of the first to live-stream its runway shows and hold them outside of Italy in faraway places like Hong Kong.
Dolce & Gabbana also maximized its global appeal with ad campaigns set in various cities around the world. Their recent Insta campaign, #dgclone, featured life-size puppets of Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce traveling around the world and taking photos with beloved fans.
But there’s still no denying the brand’s Italian-ism. Take their Autumn 2016 Alta Moda show that was held in Naples, an iconic city in Italy’s deep South, which opened with break dancers performing to the Tarantella, a classic Neapolitan folk song.
You could say that Gucci is the brand that gave birth to this rebirth. Creative director Alessandro Michele has blessed the world with his visionary designs, which he’s described as a sort of “fake vintage”. He’s combining 1970s glamour with whimsical pop-art, and marketing it as mythical masterpiece.
A formerly-unknown designer, Michele turned Gucci into the “It” brand of the moment, going in a direction that no one saw coming. A stark deviation from Gucci’s previous tailored and sensual vibes, Michele is making haute couture carefree and fun.
The common thread between these four companies is their ability to connect with audiences young and old, while maintaining their signature flare. The vibrancy shown in Italy’s larger-than-life fashion labels after decades of being in business is proof that it’s never too late make a comeback. To sum up this turnaround in a Donatella Versace quote: “Fashion is about dreaming and making other people dream.”