There are few places in the world that have virtuosos in fashion like those in Italy – Giorgio Armani, Prada, Versace, Gucci, Valentino, Cavalli, Moschino… among others. Thus, when the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana decided to elect Jane Reeve, a relative outsider from London, as their new Chief Executive Officer, it was considered to be a bold move to shake up the industry. Even more compelling, this new position was created specifically for Reeve.
A British advertising executive, Reeve has been referred to as the “Margaret Thatcher of Fashion.” Indeed, her new role as head of the Italian fashion industry association includes acting as the enforcer, by facilitating resolution of disputes between design houses, and even disciplining industry members if necessary. Her decades of experience as a powerful manager have earned her respect in this area.
However, Reeve’s tremendous advertising and marketing expertise is the key, as she stands as the global representative for the Italian fashion industry. Keenly aware of economic struggles in the fashion world, Reeve is focused on sustaining growth for the established design houses, while also spicing up the young Milan fashion scene. In particular, Reeve is focused on bringing in a breed of new, young designers, some of which were showcased last week at the start of Milan’s Fashion Week.
Reeve is also adding pizzazz to Milan fashion by hosting new types of fashion events that include art, food, film and music, that are so rich in the Italian culture. Despite her British background, some would say Ms. Reeve has earned her Italian “stripes” after first serving as a tour guide in Italy at a young age, and later living in the country for more than 26 years.
As a sophisticated industry, the Italian design houses are not unfamiliar with both drama and business acumen. Thus, their decision to bring in an executive with both a strong management style and modern marketing skills may prove to be a more natural fit than would seem at first glance.
Jane Reeve will be speaking at the Decoded Fashion Milan Summit on October 22, 2014, following her first term as leader of Milan’s Fashion Week.
Reported by Melanie Frank