Monday, March 27, 2006

The Undiscovered Pearl of the Blacksea

I need a break and as I like visiting new places I decided to go to Odessa in Ukraine. I am glad I did. This post is to give you the reader the merest taste of Odessa. Odessa is not a particularly stunning city in the way that Paris or Sydney are. But Odessa has its own charm. As a friend put it: "Odessa is just a large village." Some of the buildings are crumbling others are new. The buildings in the centre of the city are a wonderful meadly of everything great in Italian architecture. Another way to think of it is that the buildings are Italian Architect's ideal of Italian architecture.


Another distinct feature of the city is the huge number of sculptures and statues dotted around the city. Many are beautiful and well worth a look.


While I was there during the winter, it struck me wandering around Odessa that it would be a lovely city to visit during the summer. Particularly with the beaches a 5 minutes walk from the centre of the city (where the decent hotels are :) ). A traveller can spend the day lazing around on the beaches and then hit the many good pubs or clubs at night. After dinner at one of the resturants that serve great food. Of course there are a number of museums to satisfy intellectual guilt before heading back to the beach and niteclubs.

But and there is always a but, travel to Odessa is not for the package holiday maker. Odessa (at tis time) lacks the developed tourism infrastructure that Malaga or Ibiza have. Odessa is really for the independent traveller at this time or those looking for a holiday that is slightly different but still has niteclubs and beaches.

If you do make it to Odessa, drop in to Mick O'Neils Irish Pub. A good pub, a great atmosphere, good food and drink. O'Neils also doubles as the local for the expatriate community of Odessa (all six of them :). Speaking of which I would like to thank Steven, Debbie, Mark and Alan for their selfless inclusion of a traveller into their circle if only for a short period. Special thanks to Mark for taking the time to show me some of Odessa.

I enjoyed my trip to Odessa. I hope I can find the time to return in summer. I do recommend a visit with the proviso that is still rough and not for your average package tourist. But if you want a holiday that is different, not overly touristic then a trip to Odessa could be what you are looking for.

Doing a Hugh in Italian

A recent The Economist (Feb 25 - Mar 3) had an article in it about the challenges facing the Italian textile and footware industry. The Economist offers up the standed freee market cures such as consolidation and investment in capital equipment. One solution that The Economist does not mention is the creation of a global microbrand or to put it another way: the Italian textile and footware industry needs to do a Hugh (you could say doing an English Cut but doing a Hugh sounds better.)

The Italian textile and footware industry simply can't compete in mass market production. If it is not China it will be Vietnam or Burma or Cambodia or Africa. There will always be someone with cheaper labour. Trying to compete directly with the cheap labour is not going to work. Instead the Italian textile industry needs to build on their unique characteristics. The Italian textile and footware industry has a history and a reputation that the cheap labour countries cannot replicate. Taking advantage of their history and reputation is how the Italian companies are going to be able to compete.

Italian textile and footware companies need to create global microbrands that use the reputation and history as a foundation. The global microbrands are important as they create the demand for the time of the craftsman. Time is the only scarcity. But scarcity has no intrinsict value. Value only comes from the interaction of demand and scarcity. Here lies the success of English Cut (doing a Hugh). Through creating a global microbrand English Cut created demand for the time of the craftsman.

There is no reason why Italian textile and footware companies cannot create their own global microbrands to sell the time of italian mastercraftsman. They need to do a Hugh.

Hugh Macleod's The Hughtrain Manifesto

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