The foundations of fashion consumerism stem from the innate human desire for new things. This, in itself, is not a new idea. But thanks to the rise of social media, online shopping and digital journalism, our collective desire for novelty is more pervasive than ever.

Today, the typical consumer doesn’t invest in clothes twice a year, or even seasonally – we buy clothes more and more regularly. Where and how we shop is also changing, and brands – from the main street to the upper echelons of the luxury fashion world – are responding in turn.

Fashion’s new mission, according to a recent report from Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company, is to be “nimble, go digital and achieve ever faster speed to market.” As The report says in his introduction: “Successful (brands) will have accepted the fact that in the new paradigm taking shape around them, some of the old rules just don’t work.

Italian billionaire Remo Ruffini is all too aware of the new challenges facing the industry. As CEO and co-owner of Moncler, a luxury brand known for its luxury ski jackets and sportswear, Ruffini has been on a mission to modernize the company since its takeover in 2003.

He carried out an almost head-to-toe reorganization of the brand’s business model and supply chains to launch a new initiative, Moncler Genius.

The Moncler Genius 2019 creative team.

The Moncler Genius project, first unveiled at Milan Fashion Week last year, rejected the idea of ​​appointing a single creative director to lead a brand. Instead, he advocates a relatively new approach: having multiple Creative Directors work for the same brand, creating their own individual collections that are released on a rolling schedule.

This model mixes the idea of ​​fashion collaborations (which typically only produce one-off products that sell for a limited time) and the “drop” culture (regular, limited-edition items that are featured online and distributed). to the most loyal customers). The brand can now market new items on a monthly basis, instead of – as was the case with Moncler in the past – seasonally according to the annual fashion week schedule.

According to Ruffini, the Genius strategy allows for a “more regular conversation” with customers. It also delivers “more, more content, more ideas and more energy,” he said in an interview exactly one year after the launch of Moncler Genius.

Innovative partnerships

In addition to retaining existing fans, this model offers the possibility of attracting new customers. Ruffini signed an impressive roster of Creative Directors to work on the project – and these designers, with their own distinct brands and styles, come with it. their own followers.

The eight designers involved in the latest Moncler Genius collections, presented at Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday, are a mix of established big names and emerging figures.

Among them, Valentino’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, who made headlines with his couture show in Paris last month; Craig Green, one of London’s foremost menswear designers; Richard Quinn, that drew the Queen to her London Fashion Week show in February of last year; and famous London designer Simone Rocha. Quinn will be present for the first time with Moncler Genius while the other three have been there from the start.
Pierpaolo Piccioli's couture collection for Valentino presented earlier this year.

Pierpaolo Piccioli’s couture collection for Valentino presented earlier this year. Credit: Courtesy of Valentino

The new collection of Pierpaolo Piccioli for Moncler Genius.

The new collection of Pierpaolo Piccioli for Moncler Genius. Credit: Moncler

For Moncler, the business benefits of working with top names are clear enough. But what do designers have to gain?

During an interview this week in London, Rocha said she was initially “excited about the level of designers that were going to come together” and that she “really felt that all designers had their own point of view” . She also cited Moncler’s extensive distribution network and distinct customer base as strengths.

Piciolli, speaking from Milan before presenting his latest designs, said he welcomed the project as a new challenge that allowed him to protect his creative voice. “For me, it’s all about creativity and self-expression,” he said. “It was stimulating and interesting to express my own ideas in a different way.”

The collections that have emerged so far seem to have retained the visual identity of each designer. The most recent Moncler Genius presentations have taken place in a series of eight designer-specific ‘environments’ – custom-designed rooms that reflect the style of each creative director.

Piccioli’s designs featured shapes that his most devoted fans will recognize. But he also came up with something new, taking inspiration from the project of Lemlem, his friend and collaborator Liya Kebede, who is dedicated to the production of clothes made by local artisans in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa.

A look from a previous collection from Simone Rocha's own brand.

A look from a previous collection from Simone Rocha’s own brand. Credit: Courtesy of Simone Rocha

Rocha embraced Moncler's outdoor ethos by showcasing her designs in the middle of a built forest.

Rocha embraced Moncler’s outdoor ethos by showcasing her designs in the middle of a built forest. Credit: Moncler

Meanwhile, Rocha, whose brand is known for delivering feminine and ethereal looks, has embraced Moncler’s outdoor ethos through her designs, taking inspiration from the image of a guide and choosing to build a interior forest landscape in which to stage one’s looks. She explained that she was interested in the idea of ​​a “uniform for nature”.

Green has also stayed true to his signature shapes and style. In the images from the Fall / Winter 2018 campaign for his own brand, he made reference to a human raft, and in the outerwear he created for this collection, you can see hints of an inflatable ship.

Craig Green Fall - Winter 2018 Campaign

Craig Green Fall – Winter 2018 Campaign Credit: Dan Tobin Smith / Robbie Spencer / Craig Green

Craig Green's most recent designs for Moncler Genius.

Craig Green’s most recent designs for Moncler Genius. Credit: Moncler

Something for Instagram

Unique and immersive, each space was distinctly “Instagrammable”. Like it or hate it, tailoring experiences to social media is an important way to reach consumers. Moments after Wednesday’s presentations, the feeds were inundated with images from the collections.

But has the Genius strategy paid off? Before the Milan showcase, Ruffini seemed positive, if measured, or perhaps realistic. He mentioned more than once the need to “fine-tune” the execution of the project.

Yet he also reported an increase in online sales and web traffic, saying the initiative has attracted a particularly young population. He claimed that the visibility and perception of the Moncler brand has improved. CNN has requested sales figures, although they were not provided at the time of publication.

“Honestly, I’m happy. Of course we made some mistakes,” Ruffini said. “Of course we can do better. But I would like to think that at least we are facing a new era, a new adventure. And that’s what I’m really looking for.”