Business students make leap from high finance to haute couture

Jul 11, 2011

Business students from Simon Fraser University are enjoying a unique crash course in high fashion this summer – thanks to a unique classroom offering in conjunction with Italy’s prestigious Università Bocconi from the fashion capital of Milan.

The class, “Business 492: Management of Fashion Companies,” has paired up undergraduate students from SFU’s Beedie School of Business with a cohort of visiting students from Bocconi, regarded as Italy’s top business and economics school, who are visiting Canada this summer.

Students will gain an overview of the global fashion industry and an in-depth understanding of the strategic, organizational and managerial features of fashion companies, both in the luxury space and in the mass market. They will also learn about the dynamic, fast-growing B.C. fashion design industry, where the focus on smart design intersects with West Coast lifestyles, outdoors pursuits and action sports.

Students are tasked to implement tools such as industry analysis, business models, and positioning strategies to the fashion industry and companies within. In addition, they will study case histories, hear from guest speakers and visit leading fashion design companies and retailers – including Vancouver’s Lululemon Athletica and No Limits Sportswear, and iconic Canadian retailer Holt Renfrew. A field trip to Vancouver’s vibrant Main Street neighbourhood will expose the SFU and Bocconi students to some of Canada’s most ambitious and eclectic fashion designers and entrepreneurs.

Curriculum also includes an investigation of the so-called fashion pipeline, the timing and management of fashion trends, and consumer segmentation. Students will explore the competitiveness of national fashion industry models, from Italy and France to the United States.

The month-long class is co-taught by Stefania Saviolo, a Lecturer of Strategic Management and Director of the Master in Fashion, Experience & Design Management at SDA Bocconi, and Erica Corbellini, Professor of Fashion Management at Bocconi. Dr. June Francis, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Beedie School of Business, is offering a series of guest lectures focusing on how the North American market works and highlighting successful North American and home grown Vancouver brands.

“These are business students who are very passionate about the fashion design industry in Vancouver and around the world,” said Rebecca Rytir (nee Cowan), International Coordinator, Beedie School of Business. “This program is special in that it provides insight into the North American, Canadian and West coast fashion design industries, and juxtaposes them against the well-established and enormously successful fashion industry from Europe. To have the expertise and enthusiasm of business academics and students from Milan – the home to global-class fashion labels such as Armani, Prada and Versace – makes this summer experience even more vital.”

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