What if a shopping experience met solidarity? One of Milan’s oldest charity fashion events, Convivio brings together fashion brands, artists, volunteers, celebrities and kind-hearted fashionistas. After a long 4-year hiatus following the covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 edition made a great comeback, raising over 1,600,000 euros for ANLAIDS Lombardia ETS. From 4 to 7 November, at La Fabbrica del Vapore, over 40,000 visitors attended that four-day exhibition market and purchased around 10,000 items donated by brands. So, Convivio sold out for the first time in history.
Thanks to Istituto Marangoni, I had the opportunity to volunteer for Missoni, so here I am to share with you what’s behind the scenes of this event as the ultimate destination for socially responsible and solidarity shopping.
One of Milan’s oldest charity fashion events, Convivio brings together fashion brands, artists, volunteers, celebrities and kind-hearted fashionistas
Working in the fashion industry is not only about creating your niche and becoming popular but also about using that gained authority to boost your community in a good way. A response to the growing AIDS epidemic, Convivio started as an idea of Gianni Versace in 1992, with Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferrè and Valentino Garavani as the first promoting committee. So, the event celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, marking 30 years of fundraising to facilitate AIDS and HIV research, as funds raised through Convivio are donated to ANLAIDS. “The fundraising will immediately translate into scientific projects to fight HIV, sexually transmitted infections and new health crises,” stated Andrea Gori, president of Anlaids Lombardia ETS. “Covid has changed our idea of what healthcare is, we know more about things, and we realise that we can’t come unprepared for the infectious challenges of the future. This is what Convivio is for.”
Convivio's market exhibition
One of the first supporters of Convivio was Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia. Today Francesca Ragazzi, Head of Editorial Content at Vogue Italia, is carrying on this legacy. Also in the Convivio family are Simone Marchetti, Vanity Fair European Editorial Director and Vanity Fair Italia Editor-in-Chief, and Francesca Airoldi, Chief Marketing Officer at Condé Nast. Enrica Ponzellini joined the team as Project Manager, with the consultancy provided by Emanuela Schmeidler’s public relations and strategic brand development agency.
The event is usually held every two years. Still, all social activities – including Convivio – were postponed during the Covid pandemic, so everyone in Milan was waiting for the charity event to come back. Re-launching Convivio after the stop required a great deal of effort, and the 2022 event was promoted via social media with even greater emphasis. Thus, they called in a renowned young artist whose work has gone viral on social media, Pietro Terzini – you have probably seen his unique calligraphy statements this year on Instagram and Vogue magazine’s print pages. For Convivio’s comeback, he created the quote “Tanto lo so che ti sono mancato” (I know you missed me) on posters all over Milan. He also designed the letterings for the shopping bags and banners indoors. Reading “If you wanna steal my bag, you gotta steal my heart too”, a tote bag was more than stunning: the encounter between this social artist and such a big event stole my heart.
The market exhibition plays a crucial role in fundraising. This year, design, fashion, accessories, beauty and food companies donated around 10,000 products
The market exhibition plays a crucial role in fundraising. This year, design, fashion, accessories, beauty and food companies donated around 10,000 products. Thus, visitors had the opportunity to buy the latest season’s collections of major brands such as Giorgio Armani, Bulgari, Chanel, Moncler, Prada, Dsquared2, Giuseppe Zanotti, Hogan, 10 Corso Como, Golden Goose, Pinko, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Tod’s, Valentino and many others at a 50% discount.
That venue was a real shopaholic’s paradise; occasionally, a real bargain hunt ensued when the speaker announced 70 per cent off in several areas. This was the first time in Convivio’s history that the entire stock sold out, and I felt very proud to have contributed to this achievement. And I can’t but mention all the HIV tests distributed during the event, emphasising the value of self-checkout and open-mindedness about AIDS. But there was more to the location than just shopping, including a special area dedicated to workshops organised by Kikolle Lab for children with the theme “Taking Care,” so while parents shopped, their kids were entertained and educated about health.
Convivio's market exhibition
As for my time volunteering, I couldn’t imagine spending my weekend in a more productive and fascinating way. As a styling student, that was an excellent opportunity to learn from and connect with the sales assistants working for Missoni, who shared with me some tips on the brand’s heritage, customer service and visual merchandising. I was also impressed to discover, touch and closely study the latest Missoni spring-summer 2023 collection and the brand’s most recent weaving techniques.
These intense days flew by in five minutes, and the sale became a speed challenge. In total, 500 volunteers covered more than 1,000 morning and evening shifts, working on multiple stands and assisting more than 40,000 visitors to the exhibition market over the four days.
An exclusive Charity Dinner Gala was held on 8 November to celebrate Convivio’s big comeback
An exclusive Charity Dinner Gala was held on 8 November to celebrate Convivio’s big comeback. The gala, taking place at the market venue for the first time, brought together the crème de la crème of the Italian fashion and design world and leading names from show business, sport, public institutions and foundations. Over 760 people invited from 70 companies and brands attended the grand closing event, proving how Milan is an international fashion capital, with its creatives having a strong sense of social responsibility.
Over 760 people invited from 70 companies and brands attended the grand closing event
Guests attending the event included Andrea Gori, president of Anlaids Lombardia ETS; Carolina Cucinelli, Brunello Cucinelli’s daughter; Italian actress Alessandra Carina Mastronardi; Maurizio Cattelan, contemporary artist and co-founder of Toilet Paper magazine; Giuseppe Dave Seke, star of the Netflix TV series ‘Zero’; Gianmarco Tamberi, Italian high jumper and current Olympic champion, and Veronica Yoko Plebani, Italian Paralympic athlete. There were also fashion journalist Anna Dello Russo; Philosophy creative director Lorenzo Serafini; Italian fashion designers Nicolò Beretta and Sara Battaglia, and celebrity stylists Lorenzo Posocco and Simone Furlan. They were joined by Federico Sarica, head of editorial content at GQ Italia; Drusilla Foer, Italian actress and theatre artist; Manuela Ravasio, Marie Claire Italia managing director; Vittoria Pietropoli, WW Communications Director; digital entrepreneur Valentina Ferragni; Italian singer-songwriter Gabriele Esposito; Carlo Sestini, entrepreneur and digital influencer; Tamara Kalinik, YouTuber, blogger and entrepreneur; and Rebecca Menichella, Fashion Design alumna at Istituto Marangoni.
Convivio's Charity Dinner Gala at La Fabbrica del Vapore
Indeed, I recommend you keep your eyes on the upcoming 2024 edition. Your involvement will make all the difference to the charity event, whether you join in as a volunteer or customer, spread the news on social media, repost content and share Instagram stories or make a donation.