A New Perspective on Art and Business

As a marketing management and public relations dual major, as well as an art history minor, I spend a significant amount of time thinking about and/or studying modern marketing and communications and learning about various forms and eras of art. However, through my time abroad so far, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these fields in new ways: What do I truly consider art? Can a work of art be its own best marketing strategy?

I first began pondering these ideas in my business class, titled “Made in Italy: Business, Craftsmanship and Branding Success.” In the course, we spend a lot of time discussing business and branding in Italy and how it differs from the usual practices in the United States. However, not only do we discuss these ideas, we see them in practice by going on-site visits to local companies, many of which have been in business in Florence for many decades.

Our latest visit was to Stefano Bemer, a luxury shoe company based in Florence. Though men’s dress shoes have never been at the top of my list of interests, I admit I was fascinated by the end of the visit. We were able to walk through the workshop and retail space and hear about the company’s history, as well as the process of crafting the shoes entirely by hand.

Though I was familiar with the concept of luxury fashion goods being seen as art, I never fully believed it until I saw it in action. Our host explained all of the incredibly detailed and precise work that goes into making each pair of shoes, many of which are one-of-a-kind pieces custom-made for a particular client and take about 70 hours of labor to create.

However, upon thinking more about the visit, I realized that not only was the visit an eye-opening experience in terms of learning about luxury goods and production, it was also an incredibly effective marketing tactic and a great example of the power of word of mouth. I had never heard of Stefano Bemer before taking this course, but now I have great respect for the company and its products. On the way back to the Syracuse school building, a classmate and I chatted about the visit and how much we liked the company and would even be interested in working there, or a firm like it. Later that day when talking to my parents, the first thing I wanted to do was send them the website and tell them all about the visit. Even now as I write this, I’m sharing the company with a new group of people.

Stefano Bemer is not a traditional example of a modern luxury fashion company. With a concentrated range of product offerings, limited social media presence (only Instagram is active, and provides a muted but effective view of the company), and no big-budget marketing strategy in place, it is a quiet participant in a crowded, flashy industry.

Though it may not be fair to only compare the company to luxury peers like Gucci and Balenciaga due to its smaller size, Stefano Bemer exemplifies the true “Made in Italy” ideology. This ideology applies to companies that actively choose to do just one or a few products/services very well and let the timeless craftsmanship speak for itself, as opposed to an ultra-trendy, huge product line approach that targets as many people as possible, provided these customers are willing to pay the premium price.

Though this may not be the most popular approach, especially in the United States, to me allowing the company’s history and artful craftsmanship to speak for itself was one of the most effective marketing tactics I have experienced to date.

Learn more about the study abroad experience.

Mallory Carlson
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1 comment on “A New Perspective on Art and Business

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  1. Mallory. Well written and speaks to keeping an open mind on all subjects shows there are many ways to accomplish an objective. Enjoy your experience in italy