Over the next two weeks, MR shares our profiles of industry leaders whose vision, creativity, and courage continue to inspire us. Today’s role model is Kiton chairman Massimo Bizzocchi, who continues the legacy of founder Ciro Paone, crafting the world’s finest handmade clothing while treating all customers with tremendous kindness and respect, regardless of order size.
I started my career in 1974 in Biella (world capital of luxury fabrics), working at local manufacturers and mills; I had marketing responsibility for Europe and Japan. Then in the early 1980s, I opened a consulting agency for high-end Italian manufacturers looking to do business in foreign markets. My milestone moment was in 1984 when I first met Mr Ciro Paone, owner of Kiton. Our business agreement was to establish Kiton Corp NY for the U.S. market; we opened an office and showroom at 730 5th Ave and I was given a VP position. In the mid 1990’s, we relocated to the Elizabeth Arden penthouse at 689 5th Ave. In 2001, Kiton Corp acquired the 4 East 54th Street landmark building for its showroom and first mono-brand store.
Mentors and Lessons Learned
I learned so much from all the business execs with whom I connected over the years, especially those from Japan and the U.S. From the Japanese culture I learned the importance of service, dedication and manners. From American entrepreneurs and merchants, I learned the complexities of the business and the challenges of competition. Much respect and appreciation go to Murray Pearlstein, Clifford Grodd, Wilkes Bashford, Stanley Marcus, Harry Rosen, Fred Hayman and Derrill Osborn, all of whom graciously shared their leadership skills, professional knowledge and life lessons.
But it was mostly Mr. Paone who was my inspiration—I quickly embraced his genuine passion for quality and his deep respect for the customer.
“I BELIEVE A TOUCH OF MADNESS IS THE VACCINE THAT KEEPS OUR INDUSTRY HEALTHY: WE SHOULD ALL TAKE A DOSE OF IT EVERY THREE MONTHS.”
Fashion is a business that’s not about individual pride but rather the result of a cohesive team effort. Since 1984, my relationship with Kiton has been strengthened by the vision and passion of the founder, the family, and a very talented team.
The greatest challenge is how to involve Generation Z in our classic sartorial world. I admire these young creatives for the positive changes they’re making in the fashion world based on their genuine beliefs and values. Although their sartorial style is unique and eclectic, there’s often a deep respect for traditional tailoring that serves as their foundation.
Menswear will broaden its spectrum of styles based on what men of all ages, incomes and ethnicities choose to wear. I believe the evolution of new communication platforms is educating people and allowing them to express their feelings through their apparel choices. This diversity is good for individual self-expression and should be very good for the men’s apparel business.
Advice to a menswear newcomer
Designers should not fear new ideas, brands should respect all consumers, and retailers should present newness at the right time in the right quantities.
Lessons from the Pandemic
There can be no lockdowns on the creative process: we must all keep moving forward. I believe a touch of madness is the vaccine that keeps our industry healthy: we should all take a dose of it every three months…and keep having fun!