Dolce & Gabbana: A Showcase Of Enduring Italian-ness

Following his visit to South Africa, CEO of the Dolce & Gabbana group, Alfonso Dolce, chatted to us exclusively about how past and future manifest in the present at one of the world’s biggest luxury brands

By Ntokozo Maseko

In his role at Dolce & Gabbana, Alfonso Dolce holds invaluable institutional knowledge on the DNA of the brand. He’s been involved from the very beginning when two young designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, decided to merge their uniting love for beautiful things and an uncanny chemistry between them into a luxury fashion house. Four decades into it, he’s no staid member of the old guard hanging about like inanimate furniture, instead he’s the shapeshifting pulse of innovation and measured change sweeping through the Milano head office  corridors, the effects of which reverberates on runways and boutique racks around the globe. He talks to us about how company culture, human centric innovation and the cornerstone of tradition continue to drive one of the world’s biggest names in luxury into an optimistic future.  

You’ve been part of Dolce&Gabbana since its origins in 1984. What was your role in the early days?

I had the pleasure and fortune of participating in this project from the beginning, working closely with Domenico and Stefano. In 1987 I moved to Milan to follow the development and transfer of production and organisational activities; since then, I have taken on increasingly strategic positions, up to now where I am covering the role of CEO of the Group. 

Tell us about the concept of “Italian-ness” and how it is conveyed by the brand. 

The concepts of “Italian-ness” and craftsmanship are innate elements of Dolce&Gabbana culture. In our cultural framework, Italian-ness is the maximum expression of beauty, the praise of imperfection, as a sign of uniqueness and authenticity. Each hand is different from the other and behind each of our creations there is an artisan. Whether the product remains a unique piece, like an Alta Moda item, or becomes a Bialetti coffee maker, its origin reveals a know-how that is always consistent with the brand’s values. At the base there are authentic values. Then, from time to time, we looked for new supply chains and individual skills that allow us to transform Domenico and Stefano’s ideas into products for the public. This approach is always coherent, blending cultures and knowledge, regardless of the length of the supply chain and technical difficulties. 


How has the brand ensured continuity over the years?

Our teamwork approach involves older generations working alongside younger ones. The energy and skills of the new generations, which also include technological innovation in the way of doing business, combined with the wisdom and patience of the masters, allow the company to innovate and support the generational transition, protecting all human capital and creating a greater sense of belonging. 


Many big brands, including DG, have faced negative reactions from increasingly conscious consumers. How do you ensure that DG aligns with the responsibility of sustainability, social responsibility, diversity and inclusion? 

After working behind the scenes for years and achieving important results, in December 2022 we presented a Sustainability Plan, a precise and structured program that is built around priority areas and has a long-term vision. Ours, is intended to be a path toward a measurable and concrete idea of sustainability that passes through the Group’s guiding principles: beauty, creativity, made in Italy, humanity and passion. The Plan recognizes the value of sustainability in its entirety, not only in the process of evolution of the product, services and business models, but also in the collaborative relationship with suppliers, artisans, innovators and other partners, in an inclusive approach that wants to touch everything that revolves around the dynamics of the brand. 

How would you describe the working culture and philosophy of DG? 

Domenico and Stefano created a dream based on a clear idea: to give soul to the products through know-how and spread the Italian culture of beauty and something well done all over the world. The idea is to make people appreciate Italy not only when they visit our country, but also when they discover its values ​​through our products. Our customers choose us for a specific lifestyle, to share a sense of belonging, but also because they know they are inheriting a piece of our history. 

Despite this inherent Italian-ness, people from all over the world resonate with the brand. What makes it so universally appealing? 

We are very clear about what our values are, what we want to convey. Dolce&Gabbana tells Italy to the world – its traditions, tailoring, beauty and well-made – but also family and love and, last but not least, the passion for life and for what we have chosen to do. 

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