• Guest Speaker Giuseppe Univochi: Visual Merchandiser at Louis Vuitton for 16 years

Guest Speaker Giuseppe Univochi: Visual Merchandiser at Louis Vuitton for 16 years



Over 20 years of experience as visual merchandising specialist for international fashion brands, along with extensive experience and profound understanding in both sales and visual merchandising, strong support on creativity with fine branding knowledge and efficient leadership skills. Last 16 years in Louis Vuitton as Visual Merchandiser and Senior VM Manager in Italy, France and China.


This coming year, he will teach at the Condé Nast Center of Fashion & Design as our chief Visual Merchandising instructor.


Related Courses







What is visual merchandising and why do you think it is so important?


Visual Merchandising is one of the most important criteria of a successful “shopping experience” and is becoming highly critical for all retail networks.


The main purpose of visual merchandising is to create a logical and visually pleasing environment that will capture consumer attention and translate into increased sales. Retailers must create an environment that attracts the customer, is comfortable to shop in, and encourages the customer to return.



What are the key elements of visual merchandising?


Visual Merchandisers are responsible for conceptualizing, designing and implementing window and in-store displays. They must combine their artistic flair and creativity with technical know-how, in order to set up a storefront display that catches the eye of consumers and appeals to the senses of their target customers.



How is technology changing the visual merchandising practice?


The technology we have today allowed a rapid development in all sectors of retail, communication, merchandising and production, along with increased competitiveness. In visual merchandising, design plays a major role in creating shop window displays and events, which have a strong visual and communicational impact. Various different software available to create and display detailed 3D rendering, materials, colors and finishes. Many specialized production companies around the world are specialized in any type of design with different production techniques in a variety of materials. Therefore the VM's role becomes increasingly complex, and requires someone who is willing to develop the craft through constant practice and long-term dedication. 





How did you get into visual merchandising?


Let's just say I was born to do visual merchandising. When I was a kid, my parents owned a clothing store and I often spent afternoons helping them to keep the store clean, and made sure the goods were well presented. I mean, I started folding the remaining goods presented to customers. Piles and piles of merchandise! And it was precisely during this period that I started to know about the products, fabric types, colors, and patterns. In short, I acquired the sensibility for the goods, the base for a visual merchandiser!



What are your favorite parts about being a Visual Merchandiser?


There are several aspects of VM that excite me and motivate me. Firstly, the creative part linked to the design of store window design that requires, from time to time, searching for new ideas that allow you to develop the concept that best reflects your brand. This allows you to enhance the product that will be presented in it.


Equally interesting, is the part of product in-store display implementation in the selling areas. Creating attractive displays that have a strong visual impact and properly present the products offered by the brand gives me great satisfaction.


Also important for me is the part dedicated to VM training. Developing the necessary skills for people who wish to pursue a career as a VM specialist, as well as educating the in-store retail staff, gives me great pleasure and a sense of an important mission. 



What inspires you when you are creating?


The brand value, its history, and the product offer itself, are the main sources of inspiration. The product is taken in large consideration. The style, the colors, the materials, the patterns and their main functionality are the igniters of inspiration based on which I interpret and create appropriate scenarios.


Similarly, my curiosity and passion toward the culture, in general and particularly in art, allows me to have a wealth of visual artistic elements, which I can draw upon in the creative phases. Therefore, I also think it is important to regularly devote some of my free time to visit exhibitions of art, photography, design and fashion.



What is the proudest campaign you have ever done?


Most projects have made me proud of my VM talent are those executed during my long professional journey in Louis Vuitton.  In particular the collaboration I had with important window designers. We’ve created some of the most outstanding window concepts for new store openings in major world capitals, including Paris, London, NYC, LA, San Francisco, Milan, Rome, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.



Giuseppe Univochi & Louis Vuitton



How is working as a visual merchandiser for Louis Vuitton? What have you learnt from working at Louis Vuitton?


Working for LV was the most important experience of my professional career. That's where I discovered the profession of the VM and the importance of this job to the fashion and luxury industry. It’s the brand where I learned all about VM, and developed my creative talent in VM. It’s also where I had the opportunity to travel around the world and meet very interesting people. In short, the best trip I could have done in my life.



About China


What is the biggest challenge of visual merchandising in China? What’s lacking and what’s in urgent need?


The greatest difficulty that the VM industry currently faces is the lack of experts that are linked to strong market demand in the fashion retail industry, which generally makes the VM standard mid to low level creative. The main need is to create training centers that can provide the basic VM knowledge and tools necessary, so that the VM staff can properly commit to the main objectives that this profession requires. Secondly, educate the personnel who work on the shop floor. Finally, have an in-store VM team able to accomplish the in-store VM activities.





What is the typical career path for a visual merchandiser?

People who have had a formal education background in artistic subjects, design or fashion are often those who find it easier to pursue careers as VM. These fields provide the creative basic principals that can help to better understand the elements needed to properly commit to the VM activities. In any case, work experience as a in-store salesman and VM remain a mandatory step for everyone who wants to follow this profession. The shop remains the main place where VM is practiced and applied. Equally important is to have a good knowledge of what the products actually offer, the brand strategy, the sales trend and what type of customer to whom the product is intended.


An ideal career path in VM:

1) VM training as a basis for acquiring the principles of VM.

2) Working at the shop level to acquire selling experience and practice VM task applications.

3) VM Assistant to support a VM manager of an area or region that has a network with more than 3 shops.

4) VM manager in a country, or regional area.

5) Director of the central head office in the VM Department.



What skills do you need to be a good visual merchandiser?

Passion for the retail industry is the main basic element. Creative talent is a must, as well as good knowledge of the basic artistic principles that will help you to treat the colors, shapes and volumes in the construction of display. Be informed about trends in the market in which they operate. Good communication skills and be dialectic. Agility and good team work spirit!