Svitlana, after your graduation in Economics in Ukraine, how did you end up working for a fashion firm in Milan? When did your passion for clothes and style arise?
My passion for clothing started off quite early. When I was 10 I started attending cut-and-sew classes at school, which usually closed with a fashion show where we all walked the runway showing off our creations. I can’t say if what bewitched me at the time was either catwalking or fashion design itself.
We couldn’t shop for foreign brands in Ukraine back then. Just clothing from local firms. So when I started to design custom pieces I did it only for myself - I wasn’t thinking about entering the fashion industry.
After graduating in Economics, I arrived in Italy and began my first experience in the business. I worked as a sales assistant at first, then as a visual merchandiser, then as a senior salesperson. Later on, I dealt with important Italian brands both locally and internationally as a sales manager.
What did you do as a sales manager?
As a showroom sales manager, I used to take care of sales campaigns, manage customers and organize my team to achieve the company goals. When the actual sales phase was over we usually travelled around the country to speak with clients in person and to approach new prospects.
The presentation of new collections opened the season and we usually had meetings with designers and people from style offices to learn everything about the products presented at the exhibition and sold to our clients during the sales campaign period.
Though we worked hard to achieve business goals and reach company budgets, the most important thing was to take care of the clients’ interests. We would help them with their purchases, serving as fashion business advisors.
Can you tell us what you like the most about this job - and where you think the industry needs to improve?
A good thing about this job is being part of the fashion world. On the negative side, I’d say the timing. Timeframes have become increasingly tighter between releases and collections come out faster. You have to take into account all the trade fairs and fashion weeks and study the synergies between fashion events more carefully.
After such a career, we could say you're an expert. But you recently decided to attend a high-level training course nonetheless. Why?
Being now used to fashion items on a commercial level, I started to focus on styling, working with brands on capsule projects. Therefore, I managed to take a master’s degree at “Accademia del Lusso”. The course has been very useful; it’s strengthened my knowledge, confirmed my passion for fashion and ultimately helped me in the decision to create my own brand.
What are the latest fashion trends? What do you think about the digital breakthrough?
In fashion, I see a remarkable change of focus to the essentials, the origins, the iconography. You’ll notice this strong trend if you look at the current mania for logos. Top fashion designers play with the past, converting it into a contemporary style.
The world of sales has changed - it’s still changing very much, and quickly too. The end customer has now become more demanding and better informed. As a result, retailers are more selective about the brands they choose to sell in their boutiques.
As for the digital world, I think it’s intertwined with our day-to-day life. Most people buy things online but still appreciate the in-store shopping experience. This is why it’s important to take advantage of this co-existence in the best possible way; for instance, by equipping the store with the latest technology, such as big screens where customers can see all the products - even those that aren’t physically on display.
Can you give some advice to new graduates who want to join the fashion industry? What are the necessary basic requirements?
I’d tell them to go out, visit the workshops and manufacturing companies to learn what it really means to work in this industry, watching what happens in factories and businesses. Nowadays, too much theoretical training doesn’t fit the needs of firms. Honestly, passion and training aren’t enough to reach success. They are important, but graduates also need to know how the whole supply chain works and which are the new rules of the game.
Victory belongs to those who learn fast.