LVMH launches a prize to promote Italian craftsmen
Despite the craze for handmade products, Italian craftsmanship is in trouble and many of its specialties are at risk of being forgotten due to a lack of new talent. In an attempt to curb this trend and to shine a spotlight on this living heritage, which is often overlooked, LVMH's Crafts of Excellence division has teamed up with Fendi, owned by the French luxury group, the Italian Chamber of Fashion and Confartigianato, the employers' association for Italian craft companies, to create the "Maestri d'Eccellenza" award (Master of Excellence in English).
The aim of this competition is to reward each year a craftsman or entrepreneur who has been active for at least five years in all trades related to fashion and crafts and who has distinguished himself/herself by his/her creativity.
Three categories have been created: the Master Craftsman of Excellence Award, the Master of Innovation of Excellence Award and the Emerging Master Craftsman of Excellence Award. Entries are open until midnight, May 14 on the dedicated website. It is only possible to compete in one category.
By the end of July, nine finalists will be selected. The winners will be announced in Milan in September. Each winner will receive 10,000 euros to invest in his or her company. In addition to media exposure, they will also benefit from mentoring sessions organised by Fendi experts.
"Through this project, we have three objectives. Firstly, we want to pass on this know-how by attracting the attention of the younger generations, then to promote the people behind it and their expertise and, finally, to reveal to the world the beauty of Italian craftsmanship, to show that it is modern, up to date and that it can appeal to young people", summarises Alexandre Boquel, director of Development of the Professions of Excellence of LVMH.
In France, the world's number one luxury brand launched a similar competition in 2021 with Elle magazine: the Prix des Artisanes. But it is around Italy that a large part of the group's houses' production is concentrated, calling on the region's exceptional entrepreneurial network, from textiles to leather goods to jewellery, which has managed to preserve part of the made in Italy concept despite the crises and the disaffection for these professions.
LVMH invests nearly 100 million euros per year in this country, employing 13,300 people, including 7,000 craftsmen, across 31 sites and 258 boutiques, while employing 200,000 others through its network of 5,000 suppliers and subcontractors.
"The problem is that very few students apply to these technical training courses, because these professions are devalued in their eyes and those of their parents. This is absolutely not enough to meet the needs of the luxury industry," points out Fendi CEO Serge Brunschwig, acknowledging that an initiative like this new prize "remains a drop in the ocean in an attempt to raise awareness of the reality of these now well-paid professions."
According to Confartigianato's estimates, by 2023 the industry in Italy will be short of 43,700 craftsmen. For its part, the Italian Chamber of Fashion estimates that within three years there will be a shortfall of 90,000 people to replace retiring craftsmen and fill the new positions required by the fashion industry.
"For example, we are short 300 people to complete the workforce of our new factory in Tuscany. As a group, we can invest in training and easily fill this gap. But our factories do not cover all our needs. For bags, we are at 30% internal production. The remaining 70% is provided by our supply chain, i.e. SMEs that do not necessarily have the means like us to invest and train," the Fendi boss emphasised.
With this in mind, LVMH, which groups no less than 280 professions, created its Institute of Excellence Professions in 2014. Strengthened in 2017 with a subsidiary in Italy and various international programmes, it is now present in seven countries and has 42 training courses in partnership with specialist schools. Recently, a jewellery course was launched in the United States with Tiffany & Co, a bachelor's degree in cognac and two training programmes in the Lyon region in jewellery and leather goods.
At the same time, the group launched the "Les Virtuoses" initiative to stimulate its in-house talent and the "You and me" project, an orientation and recruitment fair for the LVMH professions of excellence, which tours France and Italy each year.
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