Not unlike Olivia Pope in Scandal, Alessandro Maria Ferreri specialises in fixing people’s problems. His clients, however, are fashion companies. Ferreri has used his experience in luxury management to build The Style Gate, the consulting agency he founded in 2015. In some ways the firm resembles a boutique hotel, in that it “offers a professional but customisable approach, also in terms of budget,” he explains. “I’ve tried to create something different from the typical situation where the consultant comes in, diagnoses the problem and leaves.The aim is to offer a more flexible collaboration.”
In a scenario where creative directors come and go, along with designers and CEOs, and where periodic economic shockwaves and unstable markets create further uncertainty, the advisor has the task of providing struggling companies with a clear overview that they are sometimes lacking. According to Ferreri, common mistakes made by brands include inadequate competitor profiling and weak market positioning, combined with difficulties in targeting the right market. “An operations consultant helps business owners to carry out an analysis using a range of information about the overall industry. Once a remedy has been identified, it is initially the consultant who implements it. This allows for time to verify the efficacy of the cure, after which the decision-making power returns to those in charge.” On one hand this bespoke approach can be applied to start-ups, “where it becomes a form of mentorship because they need everything from product communications to assessments of the best markets to attack”. But it is also useful for higher-level companies, for which The Style Gate “serves as more of a menu of services to choose from”.
One of those services includes organising capsule collections for retail, with a different time to market compared to normal collections.The company also offers merchandising services, which are today suited to haute couture as well. In the last five years, The Style Gate has developed projects with Versace, Ralph Lauren, Swarovski, Moda Operandi, Dsquared2, Harvey Nichols London, 10 Corso Como, Azimut Benetti and Pineider, just to name a few. It has also assisted financial analysts from investment funds in the process of acquiring new brands, as well as overseeing all aspects related to a product’s heritage and culture. In addition, The Style Gate is working alongside the sourcing management platform Medusa Source in New Delhi, which selects and brings together companies and manufacturers that produce large quantities of goods in India – knitwear, shoes and fabric accessories – and are able to meet the high standards required by the international community. The supply chain happens to be another of Ferreri’s areas of expertise, as he teaches about “nearshoring” (the practice of transferring a business operation to a nearby country) at Milan’s Cattolica University and at the Royal College of Fashion in London. Indeed, he’s convinced that supply- chain sustainability is the true big challenge for the future of the industry.