Istituto Marangoni Milano

In conversation with Anna Rogg, Istituto Marangoni’s Career Service, Alumni & Industry Relationship Senior Manager

Offering short intensives, three-year courses, and masters programs across the fields of fashion, design, art, and fragrance and cosmetics – at ten campuses globally, and counting – Milan’s famed Istituto Marangoni is unique in its balance of instructing both creative and business savvy. For this reason, MODES has made for a particularly well-matched partner for the fashion academy, teaming up to offer student internships, in-class guidance from top team members, and opportunities to connect with working professionals. At almost 90 years old, Istituto Marangoni is remarkably adaptable to the quickly changing needs of fashion employers, and is constantly and critically evolving its programs to reflect the breakneck speed of changes in a notoriously high-turnover milieu, where what the most desirable talent means can change with the turn of the seasons. MODES.COM spoke to Anna Rogg, head of Istituto Marangoni’s career service and industry relations, to delve into the nature and importance of such essential academic collaborations.

MODES: What is the most important, core part of the Istituto Marangoni partnership with MODES?

AR: We have a list of activities that we have done in the past academic year, and we are making important progress. As a career service, one of the most important things for my office and for this partnership is that MODES has lots of our interns. At the moment, they have about four or five in different areas – e-commerce, retail, merchandising, social media, and so on. MODES loves working with international students, and more than 70% of our students in our community are international, which makes for an exceptional match. It’s not always easy in Italy to find an internship as an international student – because of the language, first of all. But MODES are always open. It’s an ongoing collaboration, which also involves event support and educational projects. We added two new degree programs this year, one in omnichannel and the other in e-commerce. MODES’ head buyer came in to work with the students, giving them a specific assignment then providing feedback. Our students then had the opportunity to put these collaborations on their CV, which is very important for their professional path at such an early stage.

MODES: A program focusing on omnichannel for example reflects quite recent industry needs and language. How are you, as an institution, approaching these very fast changes with respect to professional development in fashion? 

 AR: Because we have active professionals as tutors, our students are engaging in real research for actual brands. Our international student body also means that we have an opportunity to look at platforms outside of Italy and Europe and the US – in China, Africa, and India, for example.

This keeps things very fresh. It’s essential to look at new markets, especially for an innovative platform such as MODES. They must open to new brands, too. Some of the designers MODES works with are former students of ours. It seems superficial, but fashion can be a very closed world. Just being able to attend a MODES event is a major professional opportunity for our students. 

MODES: No one talks about how essential going to parties is in this milieu. Is it rare that institutions are this explicit or intentional about networking? It seems it’s often left up to the students to navigate that alone.

AR: Exactly! When I finished my studies 20 years ago, it was impossible to see a fashion show or attend events. When we participated in MODES’ special event with Blumarine, the brand’s creative director, Nicola Brognano, was there. He studied fashion design at Marangoni. Younger students at the event were able to meet and chat with him – who knows where that conversation could lead? An interview? Why not? That’s why creating these opportunities to network is very important. 

MODES: What else are you prioritizing now in terms of growth or urgent industry needs?

AR: We were founded in Milan almost 90 years ago, and now we have three campuses in Italy, two more in Paris and London, one in Mumbai, and two in China. A year ago, we opened in Miami, and we also have a school in Dubai. So we are growing a lot. In Milan alone we have more than 3,500 students across both masters and foundation courses. Different campus have different focuses, but in general we are very interested in artificial intelligence.

We have a metaverse platform where we can present the work of students, and we’re focusing coursework on 3D modeling, which a lot of companies are requesting now. So now we have graduates doing 3D at brands such as Prada, Zegna, Fendi, Dolce. They’re getting these interesting positions largely thanks to new courses we opened during the pandemic, when it was impossible to create something physical. We’re proud to have invested in that.

MODES: It's impressive how quickly an institution with that much history has been able to evolve so quickly. 

AR: We are in a position to be in direct contact with company HR departments, and that professional world provides a lot of input. They’ll tell us when they want to see more students with merchandising experience, or with certain technical skills, and we are able to create specific courses f study to respond to that and support those areas. And in that respect, we are very fast. 

MODES: Your international expansion also seems to be responding to traditional European markets and production strategies becoming more globalized. What is your feeling on how Milan's role has evolved in all of this? 

AR: Milan is maybe the most international city in Italy, especially compared to Rome or Florence, which are more driven by tourism than by industry.

The companies here aren’t just Milanese, either. You’ll have communications departments and producers working with brands from all over the world. Our school reflects that. My colleagues are international. We teach in English as well as Italian – and knowing some Italian is important here. If you’re going to work somewhere like MODES, you need both. You need to have an Italian touch. 

MODES: MODES is also engaging across disciplines, not borders –it’s devoted to fashion, but there is also content, visual art, interior and object design. Are you also having to evolve to interact in increasingly interdisciplinary ways?

 AR: We love to have this kind of experience. Business students can’t just study e-commerce and buying – they need to engage with fashion designers too, for example, because they need to know how the whole industry works. Emerging designers like the ones MODES works with also need to have an idea of a business plan, or how to engage with platforms where they can present the work. You can have a very creative eye, but is the look ready for an e-commerce platform? Why or why not? It’s important to remember that it’s not just about the design aspects, but about how a business works on every level, from styling to merchandising to the interior design for your retail space. You have to have those 360 degrees.