Italy has been a world leader in fashion for decades and boasts an unrivalled stable of prestige internationally renowned brands. So it’s not surprising that Intesa Sanpaolo is at the heart of the industry, working with giants such as Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo, Prada and Max Mara.
The bank also supports customers in the fashion industry in developing their innovation strategy through programmes including the Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center Startup Initiative.
It not only offers financial services to start-ups, but also investment and potential partners that can help them grow.
Part of this process is presenting opportunities for Italian start-ups to network with brands and investors in key international hubs. One of the most important places for fashion start-ups to be seen is New York.
“We are helping Italian fashion tech start-ups that want to enter the US market or want to scale here in the US, investing in them, training them, working to create the right contacts for them,” explains Vincenzo Antonetti, Head of Promotion and Development of Innovation, International Network, Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center.
Held in the heart of Manhattan, Decoded Future is among the most important fashion tech events in the world, bringing together influencers, fashion brands and investors. Intesa Sanpaolo and Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center chose it to promote its key fashion-based Italian start-ups.
“In the US there’s just so much momentum. There is no other place with as many exciting digital-native start-ups than the US right now,” says Timo Weiland, Co-Founder of The Lead, an events and publishing company that focuses on fashion and technology. However, Weiland also believes that some of the most revolutionary changes have been on the supply-chain side, payments and logistics.
“We’re starting to see such cool technology that’s being incorporated into brands to make consumers’ lives easier, to make their lives more exciting”
Saisangeeth Daswani, Head of Advisory – Fashion, Beauty and APAC at research firm Stylus
It’s the type of innovation that is catching the attention of brands and investors across the globe.
“It’s really exciting to see that at both ends of the spectrum – and really everywhere in between – there’s a hunger for this,” adds Weiland. “Walmart is a really exciting innovative brand that we’re working with and Alexander Wang, Dior, Chanel.”
Innovation brings many benefits to customers. “We’re starting to see such cool technology that’s being incorporated into brands to make consumers’ lives easier, to make their lives more exciting,” says Saisangeeth Daswani, Head of Advisory – Fashion, Beauty and APAC at research firm Stylus. “It’s giving an opportunity for brands to have more touch points with consumers and it’s also changed the game in a sense that consumers now are able to shop anywhere and anytime.”
Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center chose four start-ups to make the trip to New York, each of which is targeting the fashion industry but has a very different focus.
The first is Stentle, which as the company’s CEO Alexio Cassani explains, “tries to bring off-line some of the benefits they usually have online. And vice versa in the physical store.”
The second start-up, 1trueid, is an authenticity verification ecosystem designed to aid makers and fashion fans.
“For the fashion industry, fake is a big issue,” says Emanuele Bertoli, CMO at 1trueid. “We work through devices as marked labels that embed our code in the garments to track and trace along the supply chain, in real time, material goods.”
Yobs is the third start-up. Its software identifies soft skills from video interviews to help fashion firms and others eradicate bias and inefficiency from talent management and selection processes.
“We build an algorithm that analyses parameters from the interview, verbal and non-verbal cues to show candidates’ soft skills and personality – the most important predictor of future performance,” says Federico Dubini, Co-Founder of Yobs.
Finally, Tooso is a machine-learning, fashion-retail search tool that the company says helps clients see a 50 per cent increase in conversion rates post-search.
“We augment the data of an e-commerce company, providing them with the same search capabilities that users are getting used to on Amazon or Google,” says Tooso’s CEO Ciro Greco.
Whatever a business’s aims, being in New York carries huge benefits. As Francesco Genuardi, Italian Consul General to New York, concludes: “This is a land of opportunity. This is an international stage in New York, with all the relevant actors of the world here. A city with the drive for innovation. You have to be present.”
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