I’ve known Kevin Carrigan for over 8 years! I was still a university student in Singapore, doing part time modeling when I got my first Calvin Klein Casting. I didn’t get the job, but I did get a friend. It is always so nice to be around this cheerful, energetic man! This time around we met at the Westin Palace Milan to have a more serious talk. I needed advice from a wise man!

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 12.42.40First of all, I need some advice. I got a job proposal and the whole package is really attractive. I have been in Milan for 4 years, and it feels like recently things have slowed down. I was craving some changes and here I am.

I assume the job is not in Milan…

 No. I would have to move to Moscow to manage the E commerce department. I am scared. It’s been almost 10 years since I moved from Russia.

Well, lets look at the situation this way. I’ve known you for quite a long time! And I also know you worked really hard to be where you are now. You’ve got the most from each city you’ve lived in: Singapore, Hong Kong, Boston, Geneva, and Milan! You have your contacts! Let’s say you were at level C! Now you have to move to the next level, level B, before you can get an A level job! There is no perfect solution for this, you know that. Think of it like going back to university.

You know my story, right? My B level job was in a small town in Italy, I left London for a little village! As long as you know that you are going to do that job for one or two years, think of it as you would going to study at university.

Moscow is scary, it is not a safe place to be now!

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 12.43.15

 Yes. It is difficult to go out of my comfort zone in Milan.

But this when you start growing…you have to leave your comfort zone… and you will feel the result.. In order to earn money, good, real money, you have to sacrifice something..

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 12.41.09

 But this when you start growing…you have to leave your comfort zone… and you will feel the result.. In order to earn money, good, real money, you have to sacrifice something..

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 13.00.24Do you remember, once in Hong Kong over dinner, I mentioned I was thinking of moving to New York? You told me then that New York loved mature people over 30 years old…

New York loves good looking people with a minimum of 10 years experience… So take this job, do more business, and you will be rewarded for that!

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 12.41.29

 New York loves mature people, but attracts young talents from all over the world, chasing their dreams. What are their mistakes when they arrive to the Big Apple?

America is a very nice place to live. The economy still is doing very well. But the next 20 years will be very tough. China is slowing down, Japan is coming out from the recession, but still cannot get on track. Brazil is in recession. Europe is a disaster! The only one good place to be in Europe is the UK, but it is very expensive to live there. America attracts young people, but there are so many talents and their expectations are so high.. You cannot get everything in one moment! Behind each successful story there were years and years of sacrifices and hard work.

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 12.59.49 You lived in Italy, so you have seen the way country has changed in the recent 10 years

I lived in Bologna,Reggio-Emilia, Milan. I never thought of Italy as my home! I was at a great school. I learned Italian, and learned about fabrics, manufacturing. It taught me so much. Now when I look back at my school at Max Mara, I think I wouldn’t have been able to do my job today in CK without that important experience. I don’t know why I did that move. I was a party boy in London. Suddenly I moved to a small city in Italy! But money was good. How could I turn it down?

 So you thought of the money….

No, I thought that I was going to learn a new language, about fabrics, about manufacturing, and yes, I was going to save some money to buy an apartment in London after. I was like: Ok, I am not going to be a party boy in London. But I don’t want to arrive at 35 years old and be a party boy. So I decided to suffer for 2 years. Obviously I did not. I built my life, and met a lot of really interesting people. I had the best time and I saved money! Did I want to stay in Italy and buy an apartment? No! So I took the risk and looked at this as 2 years of finishing school!

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 13.00.31

Now you come to Milan 3 or 4 times a year. You’ve seen changes in this city. What have you noticed so far?

It changed for the worst! There is no more money to be had here! Even most well known Italian companies are doing badly! Prada is doing badly. They just released their earnings and they are 40% down. Gucci is doing really badly. Most Italian brands that have been successful for the last 20 years are slowly going down.


And the reason?

I believe it’s the politics set up! Japan and Italy are very similar in labor law. The higher up the ladder you go, you get a title as General Director and then you are called “dirigente”, which means the company can never fire you! That’s what happens when unions have so much strength, people get old and the new blood cannot get in. So people who are now 50 to 60, they were 40 when they came in. They’ve been with the company for 15-20 years. They don’t move around anymore, as they don’t need to, and they get paid a lot of money! New young people cannot come up the ladder! It is not like in America or the UK where you can be fired in 5 days. It is good and bad. I can be out of CK in a week. So what’s good about that is that strong and talented people still fight for their position! Here in Milan the work force is not changing. Look at some Italian brands who do their shows in Paris or New York. Unfortunately Italy is over, and I believe your time here is over too.

You know Francesca (Close Up Milano). She is already planning her strategy to move out of Milan!

 LA? New York?

Actually Ibiza! She is buying property there to rent out, one for her and her studio. She is going to be based there. As an agent you can be wherever you want, all you need is a laptop!

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 12.55.17

 I also got an offer in China, but I feel like I had my fair share of time there!

Asia is really getting tough now. When you were there it was at its peak. Now there is a new Chinese government and more restrictions, they cut down on luxury spending.

When I lived in Singapore and Hong Kong I didn’t notice that so much, but now when I come back, it’s more obvious to me… Once a brand comes to the Asian market it becomes so commercialized and partly loses its unique identity.

Yes, certainly, especially if you open 500 stores like Gucci. When CK came to Asia 15 years ago it was so different. Now a new generation of young people is more into fashion, they study abroad, they know trends, they now mix and match…they’re more aware of music…They are much more individualistic, buying less mega brands. It is not about the total look anymore.

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 13.54.45

I see you are constantly getting text messages regarding the show. (We met during Milan Fashion Week) What do you think of Gucci’s new Creative Director?

Alessandro Michele is coming here later with Katie Grand. (British stylist and fashion Journalist) You know Katie right?

Yes we’ve met before! So tell me about Alessandro Michele’s debut at Gucci today?

Michele is a very nice guy. He has worked for Prada, for Fendi. I am quite excited, I have to say. He needs more substance though. Let’s see when the collection hits the stores, if the consumers want it.

I think it is fresh. It feels very liberated. But all of these corporations, they are public companies, they have shareholders to answer to. So if the collection doesn’t perform well when it hits the stores, they are really quick to get rid of people.

 In the case of Hedi Slimane, press did not like the collection, but the consumer loved it. In the case of Alessandro Michele, the press loved it. Let’s see how the consumer responds.

Schermata 03-2457108 alle 12.44.06

 Let’s speak about the future of publishing. Any ideas on how it is going to look in the near future?

I would say that publishing is going through its most difficult period. Moreover, publishing, advertising in anything that I define as in the traditional sense is gone! For instance, our Justin Bieber Campaign. Whether you like it or not, this campaign is polarizing to choose him.

We spoke about it with the team. We didn’t want to do traditional media. We released the images online first, and then his Instagram account. So the traditional way of communication is gone. It is not necessary to publish magazines monthly anymore, same with newspapers! Newspapers can be done once every three months, magazines –twice a year. And everything else can be online!

There are some annual magazines I am looking forward to getting, as I want to see what is new in photography, I want to see all the campaigns, I want to feel it. Everything has changed! Same with the movies, from black and white to color, from silence to talking… When you look at it now, it is so historical… kind of funny! When we speak about it in 10 years we will be laughing at it…Schermata 03-2457100 alle 11.39.03


Location: Westin Palace Milan

Photo credit: Olesya Okuneva