Fashion and Food Link Key in Consumer Experience

MILAN — The fashion and food industries are getting increasingly closer, as the holy grail of experience has been more and more top of mind for brands and retailers.

On Thursday evening, the “Food and Fashion” event, organized by Galateo & Friends, consulting firm The Style Gate and Forbes at the Principe di Savoia Hotel in Milan, contributed to further underscore the message that the two industries share common strategies and goals. And how sometimes, it’s so easy to seal the union.

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Case in point, three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura, a childhood friend of Gucci president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri, reminisced on how the Osteria da Massimo Bottura, the Italian house’s culinary endeavor, landed at the brand’s Rodeo Drive store.

“I walked up on this amazing terrace, overlooking Los Angeles, and I thought this had to be a restaurant, it just had to,” said Bottura in his signature enthusiastic manner. After a quick conversation with Bizzarri, not much convincing was needed and all the necessary changes were made to the blueprint of the building. The location, as much as the food, becomes central to the experience, he mused.

The Osteria is located on the rooftop of the Beverly Hills flagship — which recently expanded to more than 12,000 square feet with the addition of a men’s store and beauty area — marking the first time Bottura and Gucci brought their cuisine to the U.S.

There are now four Osteria outposts, the most recent unveiled in Seoul, following the first at the Gucci Garden in Florence, one in Tokyo on the fourth level of the Gucci Namiki building in Ginza, and the Los Angeles unit.

Tiziana Fausti, who has acquired the 10 Corso Como concept store in Milan, praised founder Carla Sozzani’s pioneering initiative to open a restaurant in the location.

“It’s a very weighty legacy,” she admitted, “but this is a magic place, which continues to attract tourists and the Milanese alike,” said Fausti. “10 Corso Como is linked to good taste, culture and art, I have no intention of overhauling it, I just want to add some modernity, for example to its e-store.”

As reported, Sozzani is now dedicated full-time to her art gallery in 10 Corso Como.

Understanding how food would increasingly become a cornerstone of retail, Sozzani, for example, rolled out a food line with Galateo & Friends after launching a luxury oil and vinegar combo in 2010 at Maison & Objet in Paris, introducing chocolate and honey. The two partnered again for another set for Christmas last year.

Galateo & Friends, a company founded by entrepreneur Marco Bonaldo in 2002 in Arma di Taggia, Liguria, the heartland of the Taggiasca extra virgin olive oil productionhas long found a link with fashion. In addition to Sozzani, designers Antonio Marras, Mary Katrantzou and Coveri are only some of the “friends” that have personalized his collectible bottles. Bonaldo’s gastronomic range is available at Michelin-starred restaurants globally, from Alain Ducasse to Bottura, Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park to Beck’s Pergola, and at Palazzo Versace and the Armani and Bulgari hotels.

Alessandro Maria Ferreri, owner and CEO Of The Style Gate, said consumers today are seeking to satisfy more than the sense of touch and sight.

“Anyone will tell you that a mall without a food and beverage area simply does not work,” said Ferreri. “And there is a sense of conviviality that is linked to food, intrinsically connected to shopping.” Ferreri spoke of his consultancy work in the recent acquisition of the Antonio Marras brand by the Calzedonia group, which in itself is blending food and fashion as it also controls the Signorvino wine shops and restaurants.

Livio Proli, CEO of Missoni, introduced the subject of sustainability, which is equally important in food and fashion, he said, aiming to help right the wrongs and “the destruction of the environment” inflicted by humankind. In this, he said he is driven by the longstanding ethical values he has found at the fashion brand and still upheld by Rosita Missoni, founder with her late husband Ottavio. Missoni just staged its first womenswear fashion show by newly appointed creative director Filippo Grazioli during Milan Fashion Week.

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