I’m Giovanni Luigi Bordone, an entrepreneur, lecturer and researcher, all in the fashion business field. Funny enough until 25 I have never dreamt of work in the fashion industry but probably, deep down, it has always been in my DNATalking about my childhood, I became aesthetically self-conscious very late. My daughter for example at 11-year-old post and blog regularly, I was playing basketball with my friends and this was my entire life. The first time I probably looked at myself in the mirror I was around 13. I come from a family where everyone was involved in the family business: accounting and finance. Fashion for me has never been an option on the table. So after a degree in business, I started working in finance for Pricewaterhouse Coopers but secretly I always looked East, specifically to China and its double-digit economical growth.
Long story short in September 2015 I moved to China to work for a semi-unknown textile company, my first hard step into fashion. Everyone thought I was mad, especially my mother that didn’t get the reason to move from a financial dream job with a lucrative and guaranteed career to a small textile company on the other side of the world. For three years I submerged myself in quality control, garment construction, washing, stitching, fittings, die process and factory’s visit. At first, it bored me to death but going deeper into it I fell in love with it, probably when I started seeing an added value in what I was doing. The knowledge I acquired in this first “technical” fashion job it revelled to be extremely important for my future development even when I switched to more commercial roles. When you sell a $20,000 suit to some Arab Sheik or Nigerian or Russian oil tycoon it is clear that a deep technical understanding of the product is a clear advantage.
After China and a short but relaxing gap year in Australia, I moved to London where I had the honour to work for Ermenegildo Zegna in the made to measure (“Su Misura”) department since in my previous job I measured thousand of garments and I had a sound knowledge of fittings and garment construction in general. I saw this job as a great opportunity, I became obsessed with it. I was voluntary working overtime, I was taking material at home to study in the evening and during my days off I was visiting competitors and doing mystery shopping to better understand the market logics and in this competitive landscape. In two years of doing like this, I became a guru within the industry. Soon after I started travelling all over in Europe and the Middle East to visit VIP clients, celebrities, work for movies and red carpet, styling all sort of footballers, actors and politicians. I had great memories of my Zegna’s times.
That was not enough for me. I wanted a solid academic background in fashion too so I decided to study for an MA in Luxury Brand Management in the UK, however, this decision didn’t suit Zegna’s ethos and workload so I decided to join Burberry’s tailoring team. Burberry was a great experience lasted three years and also here I learnt great things about Britishness, expanding my understanding of style.
In 2015 I landed in Savile Row, the “holy place” of the tailoring world. I started working for Scabal, a luxury company producing fabrics and made to measure suits. After just one year my task was to launch the company in the Chinese territory, opening the showroom in Shanghai and serving clients all over the country. So, back in China! As a strategy, we focused on the very top of the market targeting millionaires, singers, actors and celebrities. My work was hard but pleasant, I normally boarded over 100 flights per year. My professional menswear knowledge in China was also pretty rare and highly in demand. Thus, I got invited by dozens of universities and companies for providing them with guest lectures, seminars and consulting projects. I started to work for Conde Nast, IFA Paris and Istituto Marangoni as a field expert. This was my first official step into the academic world, a world that I loved it.
When Covid hit us in March 2020 I decided it was a great opportunity to make a career move and, after four years in China, I decided to move back to the UK alongside with my family. During my quarantine in China, I prepared a PhD proposal for the University Arts of London (ranked 2nd worldwide in the field) in and I was accepted. In London, I continued to lecture for Istituto Marangoni finding a great and motivating environment.
Talking about the challenges, my main one is to maintain a balance between personal and professional life. I have three kids, I’m a researcher, a lecturer, an entrepreneur and a sport addicted, constantly juggle and try to excel in everything at the same time it’s not an easy task.
As a piece of advice for the aspirants, I would recommend to be obsessed, work your backside off, never watch the clock, don’t play video games or invest any time in similar distractions. Give to social media max an hour a day and dedicated a decent amount of time to learn something every day of your life. Learn new things for the sake of knowledge and not only for career progression. Learn how to sell yourself, dress well and sharp your public speaking skills. Remember: people will always judge you, so better create in them a positive and lasting impression of yourself.
Lastly, become an interesting person, learn how to cook, travel remote places, experiment meditation, fight, jump in frozen lakes, love, hate, follow your guts, read hundreds of books, listen to people, speak in public every time you have the opportunity, try new things, talk to strangers, always compete, forget the comfort zone, constantly invest in yourself, spend time without technology. Be well rounded. A nerd and an athlete. A teacher and a student. A leader and a team member.
Thank you, Giovanni, for sharing your amazing journey and experiences with us and providing such great insights!