The Real Cost of Innovation
This Monday I had the pleasure to attend a talk by Dennis Valle at Sapienza University. He was a guest speaker at Fashion Digital Marketing class that I attend. Just a little introduction, if you need one.
Dennis Valle, senior advisor at PwC, has 23 years of experience in managing communication on traditional and digital media and 17 years of experience in the fashion and luxury industry sector. He started his career as a Graphic designer at a small agency and worked his way to become an Independent Art and Creative Director as well as Photographer for several agencies in Italy. Skipping a few years, when he added to his CV Business Development Consultant at Apple, freelance creative director for brands like Diesel, Belfe, Replay, Benetton and others, in 1995 to 2000 he was the New Media Director and Communication manager at Diesel. Transferred to V.P. New Media at Dolce&Gabbana (2000-2006) and managed the Group Digital Marketing and Communication division of D&G, part of which the Swide.com editorial project (recently shut down unfortunately).
You can see from Valle’s background that he was riding the wave of digital when nobody knew what it was going to be and thus he made many first steps in the fashion industry. Today, to be innovative is a common requirement at job boards and we all want to think we are creative and innovative… But what does it take to ride the first wave?
What is the real cost of being innovative?
I will give you few examples that Dennis Valle shared with us today. His career learning curve was also a learning curve for the fashion industry. One of his first projects during the 90’s as founder, director and creative director of the Virtual department and member of the Diesel Creative Team for Diesel, he was incorporating fashion ads, accessories and clothing into games. Fast forward 20 years and fashion luxury brands are just recently creating games because of research that found out that games are important touch point with Chinese millennials.
Another first of Valle was the Swide.com editorial project of Dolce&Gabbana, which had sections like travel, food, fashion and style. Dennis acted on today’s marketing religion that content is king and that people connections are at the core of every business. He was using the people working for D&G to create content. Today, everyone is scrolling down Instagram to get a sneak peek of the ‘behind the scenes’ or videos of the seamstress making beautiful embroideries or the designer drawing next season’s haute couture gown.
Last, but not least, Suzy Menkes and Anna Wintour share the front row with bloggers– Bryanboy and Tommy Ton. For the first time at Dolce & Gabbana RTW Fall 2009 collection in Milan, bloggers were sitting front row. Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce were going back-and-forth on this decision, so Dennis Valle had to push quite a lot on his idea.
The fashion industry ─ known for its spirit of ‘innovation’, but nonetheless often the last to make changes. Today front rows, collaborations, advertisements, many of the fashion communication ventures won’t miss to include fashion bloggers, but can you imagine – it is 2009 and you are proposing to put some ‘outsiders’ front row at one of main fashion events for the year, pushing back main buyers responsible for one of the main sources of income of the brand. I would say, if you want to ride the wave of innovation, you better be prepared for a lot of wind blowing in your face and hope for a great team to back you up.
Valle is such a charismatic person, humble and communicative! This is probably why he was successful in pushing forward his ideas, putting aside all the research and hard work that went into it. On a serious note, he is responsible for reviving Versus Versace:
‘I met Mrs. Donatella Versace and she ask me to help them to move forward the integration between marketing and digital. So I moved there, for me the most iconic luxury brand, working on a higher level of marketing, integrating the digital world: projects like the restart of Versus, new iconic bags and accessories, from rebuilding the image of the brand and Mrs. Versace to omnichannel, customer experience and digital transformation, and last but not least, and to the invention of the ‘’See Now – Buy Now – Wear Now’.’
─ Dennis Valle from an interview with Rendez Vous de la Mode
Valle is a man of many firsts in the fashion industry. Of course, working for companies with big budgets presents endless opportunities, but until you get that chance, Dennis prescribes self-education and passion for what you are doing!
Valle ended his presentation with a quote from Coco Chanel:
‘Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.’