Buenos Aires- Massimo Casagrande is currently the Academic Director at the Istituto Marangoni in Miami. Casagrande completed his studies at the Marangoni institute headquarters in Milan and at the University of East London before working at Versace and, in 2012, he launched his own menswear brand. He has presented his designs in Paris and London, in addition to forming part of the London Design Festival for the past few years.
FashionUnited had the opportunity to speak to him about his academic work at Marangoni, his vision about the new generation of fashion students, and to hear his opinion about what’s to come for the industry.
What are students like that choose to study fashion today? What are their concerns?
Today’s youth has the same passion for fashion and creativity as we did, but at the same time they care deeply about the environment, about inclusivity, and transparency. The new generation is making an effort and getting their degree to create a fashion industry that’s more sustainable, not only from a creative point of view, but also from an economic point of view.
Thanks to them and thanks to social media we are transforming fashion communication. For young people it’s not only about storytelling, but also about ‘story living’. For them, and for us as well, today it’s more important than ever to leave a positive mark on fashion.
Has the pandemic visibly affected the creativity of fashion students? And if that was the, in what way?
Yes, definitely. I don’t see the pandemic as a bad thing, on the contrary, I think the pandemic has accelerated certain things, that it pushed us to be more creative. It allowed us to explore new technologies, new strategies and we have also seen how it added a humane aspect to fashion brands. We have introduced the software CLo3d that enables us to create clothing prototypes without having to use fabric, creating the fit directly from the computer. This is also a more sustainable way of creating prototypes, and variations in color and sizing without the fabric waste that often comes with it.
During the pandemic there was a big boom in the digital world, which was also thanks to the gaming world. Think for instance of the collaboration between Valentino and Animal Crossing and Louis Vuitton and League of Legends.
You used to be a student of the Marangoni Institute yourself, what are the differences you have observed between the students from back then and today?
I would say that a big difference is the internet. Back then, we didn’t have access to as many things as people do today. You could say we were forced to go to expositions, art galleries, to buy magazines. We were go-getters. We had to go looking for creativity and inspiration. Everything happened much more organically. Nowadays, I think we have been spoiled by the internet. We have lost some of that go-getter drive.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet but it has made everything easier and more direct. Someone can simply go on Google and search whatever he or she wants or what he or she is writing about but I think the organic side of things, of discovering something by accident, is missing.
You had the opportunity to work for a big international brand like Versace and you launched your own label in 2012. What direction do you think luxury fashion is going in?
High end fashion brands need a transparent and appealing digitalization strategy that is centered around the consumer. Millennials and generation Z drive the majority of luxury sales.
It’s crucial for luxury brands to understand how to identify with and win over these younger generations. I think they would need to adapt their focus to speak the same language as these consumers, so they are able to offer them the appropriate digital experience. They would also need to rethink their digital infrastructure, by creating digital and omnichannel shopping spaces, for instance.
What is your message or advice for young people that are thinking of studying fashion?
I would say that they need to stay true to their vision and passion, and that they shouldn’t get distracted by the latest trends. It also takes patience. An example I often use in this regard is Stella McCartney. She believed in a sustainable fashion brand when sustainability wasn’t fashionable, she was at the forefront of the movement. Now everyone is replicating her approach and using it as an example.
This article was previously published on FashionUnited.AR, translated and edited into English by Veerle Versteeg.
Image: Diego Texera