The column Educating the Digital aims to connect students and the creative industry. Here, our readers can find interviews with tutors from Istituto Marangoni Firenze, active fashion and art professionals talking with students about their careers, their approaches to education, and the new challenges provided by digital innovation.
Designer Luigi Veccia was kind enough to share his teaching experience for the Fashion Design courses at Istituto Marangoni Firenze, explaining how the digital shift has affected his personal method and design process. With I’M Firenze Digest, Veccia talks about his experience of living in England and working as a creative director at Daks.
by Viktoriia Stanieva. Cover image from Luigi Veccia Look Book: “Surrealist toile de jouy look. Wide pleated royal blue trousers. Cotton jersey bodysuit with surrealist toile de jouy with white background”. Courtesy: Luigi Veccia
I’MF: Could you tell us a little bit about your journey to become a fashion designer? Who or what influenced your passion for design?
LV: When I was eighteen, I went to Rome to start my education in fashion, which lasted four years. Back then, fashion was dominated by a minimalist style, the grunge, and it was deeply influenced by Japanese designers. As soon as I finished school I had the opportunity to gain an internship at Valentino. That experience surely had a great impact on my style, which is much fancier than minimalist.
I’MF: In 2010 you started working at Daks in England and in 2019 you became their Creative Director. What is the main difference between fashion in the UK and Italy? Was it hard for you, an Italian designer, to adapt to English culture when it comes to design or running a business?
LV: In 2010 I began to work at Daks and after nine years I became the brand’s Creative Director. Unfortunately, after two runway shows we had to stop them, due to the difficult period we are all experiencing, but we look forward to having physical shows back again soon.
As for taste and style, British and Italian are certainly different. All Italian designers can also deal with product management – and that is because Italy is where a lot of the luxury fashion production happens; it is not rare for an Italian designer to be able to execute their own drawings. On the other hand, fashion is designed in England, but the physical making of the collection takes place in other countries. This aspect surely affects the collection plan. What I love about working in an English environment is the meticulous planning of collections, as well as the frequent use of “brainstorming moments”, giving us time to describe and visualise a concept before creating it. This is something that sets them apart from Italian designers who tend to be more concrete and don’t spend so much time designing each aspect of their collections. In general, in fashion, I appreciated both cultures, but I prefer the English way of working when it comes to designing collections.
I’MF: Has your teaching experience at Istituto Marangoni Firenze influenced your design process in any way? Did you learn anything new from your students? And vice versa, what elements of your teaching method came from your professional experience?
LV: I started teaching at Istituto Marangoni during the pandemic; it was an exciting experience that gave me more energy and enthusiasm to work on my new collections. Students always have new and fresh ideas, and I noticed their desire to stay up to date on the latest trends in the fashion industry. Their desire to learn and understand how the fashion industry evolves clearly influenced my career too. I learned from them that there are many things I give for granted but actually aren’t, and that to explain a concept I first need to start thinking in a simpler way to allow everyone to understand it. Simpler thinking can often help explain a concept and create a knowledge base, but it also helps create empathy with students.
I’MF: Has the digital revolution influenced your teaching method or your work as a fashion designer? Do you prefer digital or more natural ways of sketching?
LV: Digital technology has certainly influenced my career over the past two years. For example, Zoom meetings have doubled at Daks London headquarter, allowing us to keep working even in this difficult period, without having to skip any collections. At the same time, though, we also realised that during Zoom meetings we don’t have the same spontaneity and quick exchange of ideas that we have in presence. So, I would say that hybrid methods can work to create the so-called “Think tank”, but we need at least two or three in-person meetings each season to finalise a collection, including colour charts and the choice of materials, for example. As for teaching, being face-to-face is essential to better deliver and explain concepts, especially when it comes to my subjects. I teach about materials, so it is important for me to be able to show the students some samples and to allow them to touch them and feel them. Showing a piece of fabric from a cam is clearly not the same thing as getting to see, touch and manipulate it.
I’MF: How do you feel the contemporary use of social media is affecting the work of fashion designers? Do you also believe that social media have an impact on students and their approach to design?
LV: Social media has a strong impact on students’ research methods. I often say that social media are very important, but they are not the only place to gather information! I often bring some books to school and show them to my students, and they realise that much of the information there is not on social media, so they only have access to partial knowledge.
We know that storing images and information has a considerable price, so some of them are removed from the Internet every year; as a result, if we really want to learn more, we need to look for books.
So yes, social media have an essential role in helping us gather ideas for our collections, but they are not the only source; I believe that creating your expertise based on social media research only lacks strength and stability. I always advise my students to use a hybrid approach, combining digital and physical worlds, so they can create their own personality as designers in a strong and independent way.
Luigi Veccia is a fashion designer and creative director at Daks. At Istituto Marangoni Firenze, he currently teaches Fashion Collection Design and Materials Science & Technology for the Master’s Programmes in Fashion Design and Fashion, Art And Textile Innovation, as well as the undergraduate programme in Fashion Design & Accessories.
Viktoriia Stanieva is an undergraduate student in Fashion Styling & Creative Direction at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.