CULTURE

Master of comfort

«After one of the most challenging periods the fashion and luxury goods sector has faced, with the combined impacts of SARS, the war in Iraq and the general slowdown in some of the world’s most important economies, I am pleased to report that there is now clear evidence that a positive trend is under way,» said Giorgio Armani in Paris. «Among these indicators are rising consumer traffic levels through our stores, greater numbers of tourists in the world’s most important cities and, perhaps most importantly, increased levels of optimism for 2004 and 2005 among our major wholesale clients.» Looking to 2004, the Armani Group places its hopes on accessories, fragrance, cosmetics and home furnishing products as well as retail, focusing on emerging markets such as China. Next year, Armani will inaugurate a flagship store on Shanghai’s Bund (the first Giorgio Armani boutique in China was established in Beijing in 1998). Besides the deconstructed jacket and greige, the world of Armani includes 4,700 direct employees working on apparel, accessories, eyewear, watches, jewelry, home interiors, fragrances and cosmetics. To ensure the brand’s longevity, Armani has not discarded reaching some kind of agreement with a partner – in the future. Talking about his own experiences, Armani noted that he did not grow up with fashion but rather entered the industry through window dressing, coming into contact with regular people. «We are here to serve the public, not to experiment for our own creativity,» said Armani, referring to his own vision as based more on comfort than aesthetics. «It’s very personal, going beyond fashion.» The designer offered some valuable advice for the next generation: Stay faithful to your values; make no compromises, even if that means becoming isolated. What would he do differently? «I would pay more attention to personal relationships,» he said. «I became hard and ferocious – there is a risk of becoming self-centered in this business.»