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The BoF Podcast: Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief on Lessons Learned in Isolation

In our first edition of #BoFLIVE, Emanuele Farneti speaks with BoF’s Robin Mellery-Pratt about running a publication in the coronavirus-spurred lockdown.

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LONDON, United Kingdom — "Do we still need fashion? Do we still need to buy more clothes? Does it still make sense to fly 1,000 people from one country to another to attend 15 fashion shows? There are a lot of questions out there and now is the time to start discussing."

These are the questions Vogue Italia's Emanuele Farneti is asking right now, and he's not alone. On Monday, the editor-in-chief talked with BoF's Robin Mellery-Pratt about the lessons he's learned in this time of isolation.

Farneti joined BoF for the first in a series of live digital events aimed at bringing our global community together during this challenging time to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our industry, create a sense of connectedness and lay out what challenges — and opportunities — lie ahead.

In Italy, which experienced the first coronavirus outbreak in the West this past February, there have been nearly 64,000 cases and over 6,000 deaths, as well as the shuttering of both small and large businesses. The Italian fashion industry alone — the second largest industry in the country — has seen 500,000 employees and 82,000 businesses directly impacted, according to Farneti.

“There will be an aftermath and we’ll have to get together to help people and companies who will be affected by the consequences of the virus,” said Farneti. “[But] the feeling is that the whole industry is working together to provide help to others. Now, it’s about keeping everyone safe and healthy — business will come later.”

The whole industry is working together to provide help to others. Now, it's about keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Citing Italian brands' steps to support healthcare workers and local authorities in their bid to limit the spread of the virus – from Moncler's €10 million donation to a Milanese hospital to Prada and Valentino manufacturing hospital garments — Farneti added how Condé Nast is enabling free digital downloads for the next three issues of Vogue Italia, free access to the Vogue Italia archive and cancelling their most recent edition to produce a special issue for next month.

“This was the very first thing we decided to do,” he said. “People are locked in in Italy — they cannot even walk outside with their dogs or go running, so the least we can do is try to help and entertain them with all the content we’re used to producing.”

Farneti was named editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia in 2017, after stints at GQ Italia, Architectural Digest and Flair. He succeeded legendary editor Franca Sozzani, known for her provocative coverage of topics like race and body image.

“She was the first to understand how to use fashion to talk about the wider world,” Farneti said of his predecessor. Now, he’s taking inspiration from her groundbreaking work to inspire his own coverage during an unprecedented era.

“In this sad moment, I hope the team is feeling closer than in moments when life was easier,” he said. “I’m sure it will be very beautiful when we all end up in the same room again.”

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To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

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