Tag: luxury goods

Elle Dalconzo is a junior at Olin from Los Angeles, CA, majoring in Finance and Marketing. She’s active on campus as a facilitator for The Date, a TA for ACCT 2610, a member of Alphi Phi Sorority and Delta Sigma Pi Fraternity.

The Olin BSBA Undergraduate Program will be highlighting students throughout the semester to share their experiences both inside and outside the classroom.

I was able to ask Elle a few questions about her experience this summer as an intern with Brunello Cucinelli in Manhattan. Elle learned of the internship through Professor Sneider’s Luxury Goods course. The Luxury Goods course was taught on campus in the spring and then traveled to New York over spring break to visit brands such as Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Burberry, DKNY, Loro Piana, and more.

She had the opportunity to work in the men’s and women’s showroom which included staging product before appointments, assisting clients in selecting and recording styles, as well as prepare (photograph and swatch) style orders for individual accounts.

When I asked about her experience with the Olin Immersion Program, she had this to say:

“I would definitely recommend any Olin Immersion program. You never know who you are going to meet. I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but one of the pillars of the Olin Business School is experiential learning. Use the immersion programs to delve into something that peaks your interest, or something you have never heard of. When looking for an internship, go for an adventure, not a resume blurb. Adventures make connections too, and summers are too long to waste in a poorly lit copy room!”

Thank you to Elle for letting us feature her in our first Student Spotlight of the year!

Meet Martin Sneider, adjunct professor of Marketing at Olin Business School. He teaches retailing to undergrad and grad students. Sneider’s long career in retailing, includes serving at the helm of a multi-unit department store operation, St. Louis-based Edison Brothers. He brings a wealth of retail knowledge and experience to the classroom. If you sign up for his Luxury Brands course, you’ll travel to Europe for behind the scenes meetings at Gucci, Prada, Chanel, and Burberry (to name a few).

In 2009, Sneider published a memoir recounting his career in retail. The self-published Toast: How a Leading Retailer Went from Toast of the Town to Just Plain Toast, chronicles the rise and fall of Edison Brothers Stores, along with Sneider’s long affiliation with the company.

Sneider’s childhood memories of helping in his grandfather’s grocery in Omaha, Neb., to his days as a Washington University undergraduate (A.B. ’64) also are recounted in the book. His story from unsuccessful shoe salesman to co-CEO of Edison Brothers is interwoven with the evolution of retail in the last half of 20th-century America.

Sneider’s tenure at the helm of Edison Brothers began in the late 1980s after a successful expansion into the apparel market that peaked with 3,000 stores and sales topping $1.5 billion. He left the company months before it filed for bankruptcy in 1995.

“A major theme of the book is the challenge of operating a mature business as malls began to lose market share to category killers and discount stores,” Sneider says.

“In the case of Edison Brothers, we had a fabulous run when shopping centers were being built by the dozens and our store brands were fresh and vibrant, but when growth slowed and our concepts became dated, the ability to build shareholder value became ever more difficult,” he says.

Sneider majored in history at WUSTL and earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

He has taught at Olin since 1992 and has won numerous teaching awards. Sneider has chaired the Alumni Board of Governors and served on the Arts & Sciences National Council. He received a distinguished alumni award in 2009.




Last stop on the Luxury Goods Industry course tour was London. Prof. Martin Sneider led his students across the English Channel to London’s most fashionable addresses including Harrod’s pictured above. Diana Xi Zeng’15 sent this postcard from their whirlwind trip through the capital city of merry olde England.

London town thrilled my taste buds from its not-so-mainstream styling to its glorious array of ethnic foods. For all those going abroad there, enjoy it for me! Or at least know that I’m more than a bit envious.

The bus that took us to the hotel had its cushioned seats arranged in fours around wooden tables. Mini stained glass lamps were on each table. Stained glass lamps. Stained glass. That was quite the intro to London for all of us.

Burberry welcomed us into its flagship store on Regent Street and I was in awe to hear that they open up the store for live concerts featuring British bands! With deep British roots and the iconic trench coat as its staple piece, Burberry captured its genuine heritage throughout the store with innovation.The brand’s devotion to its British history but daring and inventive Prorsum line provided a juxtaposition that made me admire Burberry for more than its classic check pattern.

Who doesn’t love purple satin hot shorts and metallic trenches? Because I certainly do.

Now onto the eats. We strolled into the theater district and found the most delicious and happy restaurant featuring Mexican market eating called Wahaca. I can’t say that without screaming it. WAHACA!! The excitement is beyond appropriate because I am salivating as I write this.

The dishes were portioned to share and inexpensive but so SO authentically tasty. Highly recommend: the Chicken Guajillo Tostadas with pumpkin seeds and Plantain Tacos. Text me, beep me if you want the complete list of everything we ate.

Missing London right now but so thankful to have gone. This class has offered more than I could have asked for. Wandering foreign countries with an intimately sized group and getting to explore an industry that we  are all passionate and curious about started off Summer 2013 in the sweetest of ways.


Photo credit: Burberry’s label, Tracy Byrnes

Students boarded the overnight train in Milan for the next stop on their Luxury Goods Industry course tour: the French capital. The class is pictured here with Prof. Martin Sneider inside Coco Chanel’s apartment above her first boutique on the Rue Cambon.

Alison Guttridge, BSBA’15 sent this postcard from Paris with details of their their first day in the fashion mecca.

The first item on our three-day agenda in Paris was visiting Louis Vuitton’s global flagship store, which consisted of five perfectly manicured stories that featured everything Louis Vuitton has to offer.

Each design element in the store had a distinct purpose, from the way the store itself was designed in a generous and gradual spiral to mimic the feel of a Chinese rice plantation (significant because Chinese customers make up about 40% of LV’s business), to the brass design of the walls that resembles the emblematic floral elements of their classic design.

On the inside, two towers of red Louis Vuitton trunks stand on either side of the rectangular door to create the number “101,” the store’s address on the famous Champs Élysées.  The store itself is located only a few blocks away from the Arc de Triomphe.

One special highlight of our store visit included spending time in a room usually only open to guests who customize their own Louis Vuitton handbag.  A Louis Vuitton trunk in the room opened up to reveal the many different possible choices the customer has in designing their bag, from the type and color of skin used to the interior fabric and color.  These bags were said to start at around $2,500 and can quickly become astronomically expensive depending on the materials are used.

This store also contained a fun and interesting section of books related to the fashion industry, all available for purchase.  After our store visit, we enjoyed a presentation from Louis Vuitton executives that detailed important information about their company, consumer base, product offerings, financial performance, and market strategy.  The passion that these men and women showed for their company and for the luxury goods industry was inspiring.

Every student walked away from the meeting with a new found appreciation for the world of luxury goods and the commitment to excellence that inspires these businesspeople to dedicate themselves fully to the betterment of Louis Vuitton.

The remainder of this first day in Paris was ours to explore the breathtaking city.  Some chose to remain on the Champs Élysées for some excellent shopping, while a few others and I visited the Tuileries Gardens in front of the Louvre Museum and then made our way over to the Eiffel Tower, somehow finding the strength within us to climb all the way to the top.

I am in awe of all that Paris has to offer, from tranquil gardens and parks to a bustling city center, and all of the history that speaks for itself on every street and in every piece of architecture.

Seeing where these luxury goods companies and brands were founded and interacting with the brand in its purest form made our learning experience all the more enriching and tangible.

When Milan, Florence, Paris, and London are on the itinerary, can you guess what the subject is for a study tour? Art, history, cuisine? Mais, non! Olin students in Prof. Martin Sneider’s Luxury Goods Industry course were studying the business of global brands from Gucci to Chanel and Burberry. Undergrad students on the tour sent us virtual postcards and photos.  This is the first in a series from Christina Ruggieri, BSBA’14.

One of the highlights of our group’s stop in Italy was a visit to Zagliani in Milan.

Zagliani is a very small, niche provider of handbags and wallets specializing in exotic skins like crocodile and python. The bags were unbelievable – and with unbelievable price tags to match! However, after learning more about how much care and artisanal craftsmanship goes into the making of these bags, the high prices (almost) start to become justified.

Based in the historic exotic skins fashion district of Milan, Zagliani embraces this heritage and creates every item 100% by hand using age-old craftsmanship methods that have been tied to the area for decades. In addition, its practices are completely sustainable given its ownership of several crocodile and python farms in Africa and Asia. The end result is a showroom full of absolutely gorgeous bags that we were lucky enough to see!

Not only was Zagliani’s exotic product offering unique compared to the other designers we visited, but Zagliani was also by far the smallest-scale luxury goods provider that we had the opportunity to speak with.

This provided an interesting, alternate perspective in comparison to the giants that we saw like Louis Vuitton. It was surprising to learn that the company has been around since 1947 but is still such a tiny niche player in the grand scheme of the luxury market. We learned that they have remained small by design, however, so as not to dilute its brand and uphold a standard of extreme luxury.

In remaining small (Zagliani distributes exclusively through Barney’s in the U.S. and operates a singular retail store in London), Zagliani has created an air of exclusivity about the company and has become known as being absolute experts in the realm of exotic skin bags. Limited production and distribution have made Zagliani items hard to get and therefore very popular amongst trendsetters and ultra-wealthy consumers.

Zagliani was arguably the most exclusive brand our group visited, and its stark contrast to the other companies we visited, beautiful headquarters, and hospitable employees made it my favorite visit of the trip!

Itinerary in Italy included visits to the Gucci Museum, Gucci flagship store, Ferragamo Museum, Zagliani, and Loro Piana headquarters in Quarona (pictured at left).