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Meet the fashion-forward MBAs

Italian student Alessandra Basso has “fashion in her DNA.” So after a six-year career in communications and marketing for architecture and interior design firms, she set her sights on breaking into high-end apparel. But rather than signing up for design school or a textiles degree, she enrolled in London Business School (LBS) in September 2012.

LBS launched its Luxury Management Program last October. The application-only initiative pairs students with mentor executives and hosts lectures by industry heavyweights ranging from Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods, to Jonathan Ackeroyd, president and CEO of Alexander McQueen. The program received some 100 applications in its first year and accepted 12 students – the school plans to gradually add more spots over the next few years, according to Gareth Howells, executive director of MBA programs at LBS.

While some designers may balk at the idea of boiling their creative work down to a commercial enterprise, understanding the nuts and bolts of business is essential, Howells says. “In the fashion and luxury industries, a lot of people don’t look at them as businesses, when in reality there are a lot of similarities – it’s about brand, marketing, entrepreneurial spirit, strategy, product design, innovation, and creativity,” he adds. “Sometimes creatives think that business is a dirty word and that the business side may stifle their creativity, but you can keep artistic integrity intact and still have a viable business.”

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