Sociologist by training, Mannetti led the establishment of the Italian design school IED in Spain in 2002. At the beginning of this year, the company placed him at the forefront of the country, where he already has two centres, in Barcelona and Madrid.
Born in Florence and sociologist by training, Alessandro Mannetti developed all his professional career in the Italian group of design schools IED. Responsible for the establishment in Spain in 2002, Mannetti is now in charge of the activity of the company in the country, where it has two centres, in Barcelona and Madrid. The manager underlines that design is going through good times, although the current environment is transforming. According to Mannetti, design is not about price, but the price has to do with the sustainability of the system.
Question: In the middle of this fast fashion system and now that Amazon is advancing in fashion, do you think that design is going through good times?
Answer: Indeed, and every time better. The sensitivity towards design in Spain is increasing and it comes from consumers. Consumers are looking for more and more design. Maybe in Italy it is considered normal for some time now.
Q.: Should we encourage design among distribution groups?
A.: For some time, fashion has been democratized and this will not change. But we must also look at its related costs. Low price does not mean that a design is bad. But if the design is good and so are the materials, the question is: what is the hidden cost? There are many retailers that manage to make a durable garment and perfect fit, but what is the price of this?
“For some time, fashion has been democratized and this will not change. But we must also look at its related costs”
Q.: Is there a future for the fashion designer then?
A.: I think that the profession is going through good times, but one of strong changes, and the design plays and will play a strategic and important role in them. However, it is a very conservative sector, where companies are often not prepared to adopt these changes. And those that do not have a strategic design will end up closing their business.
Q.: Are design schools catalysts of what happens in the industry?
A.: Always. In the current era, there are three major change factors. First, globalization. We live in a global market and this reality not only involves supply and production, but also lifestyles and consumption of products. Second, there is an important demographic factor. Life expectancy is very long and it opens up a new moment in life with different needs from those of the past.
Q.: And the third one?
A.: Technological transformation, a disruptive change that has to do with new materials and new ways of producing, in addition to the integration of new product categories that not only respond to an aspirational stereotype but also seek functions to improve health, as well as technological accessories that also use the language of fashion. There is a fourth factor that is also important.
“Those companies that do not have a strategic design will end up closing their business”
Q.: And what would that be?
A.: The change in the business model, which has to do with the viability of traditional models, including fast fashion.
Q.: Do schools adapt their content to changes in the economic and social environment?
A.: In IED we have a department that analyses all this and tries to transfer it to the study program. Now, regarding the figure of the designer, the discussion lies in the skills that should have that professional after leaving the school.
Q.: And which are those skills?
A.: They must have a solid base of traditional techniques: tailoring, pattern making, conceptual innovation, knowing how to build a collection with traditional techniques. But they also incorporate experiences with new materials and production techniques that are imposed, as well as new tools and even bring fashion to other areas. In the next Mobile World Congress we will participate with a performance, presenting fashion linked to technology.
“Schools have to think beyond their own environment, beyond the market”
Q.: Is the school aligned with the needs of the industry?
A.: IED schools in Spain, in Madrid and Barcelona, have to think beyond their own environment, beyond the market. Nowadays, it is possible to promote collections through communication and different systems of financing. We must also go beyond the classic concept of the garment because today there are devices, such as the Apple Watch, which in the near future will be integrated into the language of fashion.
Q.: What kind of relationship do you have with the companies in the sector?
A.: We have the typical internship programs. But we also develop projects with companies. With Seat, for example, our students have prepared a project on its workers’ clothes.
Q.: For what type of companies are students prepared?
A.: They are prepared from the technical point of view, after four years of experiencing everything involved in the process of creating a complete collection, even communication, and doing it within a digital environment and with their own brand. We have the advantage of having other disciplines in parallel, not only in graphic and audio-visual design, but also in marketing and communication.
“A new paradigm of developing small collections with own brand emerges because the new technological platforms help to create start-ups”
Q.: How has design changed in companies?
A.: There are new opportunities for hybridization, which is what students will find in the market. There is no longer a designer who has an idea and develops a collection, but there is a creative director at the head of a multidisciplinary team that works on different elements of the collection, beyond the product, and with a semantic and a communication aimed at different countries.
Q.: What do students look for today, creating their own brands or entering large companies, like Inditex?
A.: The big companies have a significant appeal, but a new paradigm of developing small collections with own brand emerges because the new technological platforms help to create start-ups, which in turn can rely on new realities, like new cultural paradigms or sustainability Fast fashion is also doing very well introducing the methodology of design and collections.