Major: Textile and Apparel Studies- Merchandising
Florence University of the Arts , Summer I 2017
After a very long and exhausting journey, I’m finally home within the States. My journey home consisted of 48 hours without sleep, 22 hours of actual travel and a very jetlagged me. I traveled on four separated flights and three different airlines to get back home and needless to say, I’m EXHASTUED but my study abroad experience was well worth it. It’s hard to adjust to life back in the U.S. after traveling to a foreign country. I can drive my car instead of walking everywhere, get iced coffee at any café, and I no longer have to pay for the water at restaurants! It’s great to be back but I miss the culture and atmosphere of the lively country of Italia.
The biggest thing I miss about Italy is the fashion, of course. I miss walking down the cobblestone streets feeling fabulous and glamorous in six-inch heels. I got so inspired seeing the fashion sense of the local Italians. The women would walk with such confidence while wearing a brand new handbag from their favorite designers collection. Italians have a profound love and respect for fashion and the fashion industry alike.
The American fashion industry compared to the Italian fashion industry is vastly different. In America, our “fashion” is categorized and dominated mostly by fast fashion giants such as H&M, Forever 21, and Zara. American’s are looking to buy the most items for a very low cost. We are constantly consuming new garments and accessories to stay on top of the latest trends. The Italian fashion industry is the polar opposite. The streets of Italy are lined with the most respected fashion brands in history: Prada, Furla, Pucci, Valentino, Gucci, etc. For Italians, quality over quantity is their way of life. They see buying expensive bags, clothing, shoes, or accessories as an investment. Instead of going to H&M and purchasing a handbag that may only last for a few months before falling apart, they’ll purchase a Prada handbag that will last them a lifetime. . While shopping, Italian associates will greet you at the door but will allow you to shop on your own. If you need any help you must physically ask them. Unlike in America, consumers crave the attention and constant help from retail associates. The “made in Italy” stamp of approval is also very important to Italian consumers. They take pride in keeping their growing economy moving.
Before traveling to Italy, I promised myself that I would purchase ONE fashion investment piece or “luxury item”. As a textile and apparel major, designer brands are extremely important to me. Those who respect and understand the fashion industry don’t just make a purchase for the “designer name” but for how it’s actually made. I roamed the streets of Florence for weeks trying to decide on what big purchase I wanted to make. I wandered in and out of Prada, Gucci, Patrizia Pepe, and other smaller boutiques before I finally wandered into Furla. Furla is an Italian luxury brand that was first created in 1927. It is still owned and operated by the Furlanetto family. Their products range from handbags to fashion accessories and shoes. Their headquarters is currently located in Bolonga, Italy, which is not too far from Florence. Furla has stores located within the U.S. but none in Michigan, which helped push my purchase. I didn’t want to buy a handbag that I could get at Summerset Mall in Troy, Michigan. I wanted to purchase an item that was indigenous to Italy.
I pondered around the Furla showroom, not seeing anything that caught my eye before a sales associate pulled a black transparent mini cross body bag from a drawer. My eyes lit up and I immediately gravitated towards it. The body is made of acrylic and closes with a gold magnet. The bag itself was handmade in Italy but the leather strap was produced in Romania. Without hesitation I made the purchase. The black transparent bag pairs perfectly with every outfit. I’m absolutely in love with it and I carry it everywhere; I think I have a small case of Furla fever.
I’m constantly missing the place that I called home, even if it was for only one month. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to go back next summer through SAI and participate in another three-week program. If you ever have the option of studying abroad I highly recommend it. Yes, the process is long and exhausting and you may have a small panic attack along the way but it’s all worth the incredible experience you gain from it. Learning how other people live and the culture that surrounds them is amazing and unreal. You will gain so much knowledge and hopefully gain many amazing friends during your journey.