5.23.11 – Foreign Services and Fashion
Today we visited to U.S. Embassy in downown Rome – definitely an interesting experience. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any pictures here for security reasons. I felt very professional touring the building, as though I was about to be a part of an important meeting sitting in the large conference room. We heard from an Jeff Alson, who told us a lot about the economics side of the State Department. We heard about how Foreign Commercial Services help U.S. business in Italy, about international partnerships, etc. Italy has a very large and diverse economy… most of the relationships are stable but some discrepancies occur between Northern and Southern Italy since they are so different economically. The North is more established and more economically stable, whereas much of Southern Italy is poor and rural. Jeff explained how the U.S. Government works with the Italian Government, and how having an embassy here actually helps U.S. officials understand the culture and all the nuances that result from interacting with a completely different nation. He told us a little about each of the 5 sectors; economics, politics, public diplomacy, management, and the conciliate, and also about the various ways one can work with Foreign Service in the government (as a diplomat, through civil service, or as a specialist).
for pictures and details about being at the Brioni headquarters
After our visit to the Embassy, we went to the head corporate office of renowned Italian designer Brioni – Roman Style. The granddaughter of Brioni’s founder spoke with us and gave us a detailed history of the company and about how Brioni produces their customized suits with topnotch tailors, exquisite fabrics, and hours of handwork. I was honored to hear from the actual CEO of Brioni, Francesco Pesci, and appreciated hearing from the two individuals who have the most influence within the company. They both expanded on some of Brioni’s strengths (their product) and challenges (marketing). With marketing, they want to make sure they reach certain consumers of wealth and status, but they want to target a younger audience as well. To market their brand, they present collections during Milan’s fashion week, appear in newspapers and magazines, and do some online advertising. However, to preserve the brand’s prestige, Brioni’s name doesn’t appear just anywhere – it’s an exclusive, luxurious brand and must be advertised as such. Brioni has outfitted actors Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig for James Bond movies, Clark Gable, Donald Trump, and John Gotti. Brioni operates much differently from any other brand by hand-making each and every one of its suits, which sets them apart in both good ways and bad. This may not be the most economical method to mass produce articles of clothing, but they certainly have a niche here in making some of the most customized and high quality suits in the world.
After leaving the presentation in the offices, we walked across the street to one of their 3 Rome locations, and did some browsing. The only purchase anyone made was a by one guy in our class who was willing to shell out 300 or so euros for a belt. The rest of us stuck to admiring the fine clothes, shoes, and jewelry.
After our “classes” for the day, we went to dinner as a group. We took a scenic walk to a really nice restaurant for a private dinner, where we enjoyed traditional Italian dishes.