GRAND TOUR SHOPPING IS BACK: CORTINA, RICCIONE, TAORMINA
At the dawn of the Italian tourist season, three fashion businessmen and women answer our questions on shops’ new rules and hopes. From three top destinations of the Grand Tour of fashion
Interviews by Massimiliano Simonetta
Translation by Fiammetta Cesana
Why not creating a Resort Camera? That promotes grand tour of multibrands in Italian tourist places envied by the whole world. – Pancrazio Parisi
As we’ve entered a new phase of the pandemic containment, we need to know which are going to be the new regulations of our daily activities and leisure time. One of the industry that, to be able to welcome us back again, had to carefully reconsider its laws and calendar is, of course, the fashion one. So we asked three players of the retail field in the most prestigious holiday destinations in Italy – Franz and Daniela Kraler, owners of the Franz Kraler boutiques in Cortina and Dobbiaco, Pancrazio Parisi, owner of five multibrand boutiques in Taormina, and Giovanna Gaudenzi, owner of Gaudenzi Boutique stores in Riccione – how they are dealing with this unexpected conditions in the light of the new tourist season.
Which are the new shopping rules for their reopening? How do they manage the sales season? Did the online sale be a lifeboat during the lockdown period? What about next social events and fashion shows? And which are their (sustainable) hopes for the future of fashion?
So let’s see what they said…
Interview with Daniela and Franz Kraler, owners of four stores in Cortina, and the flagship store in Dobbiaco
Franz Kraler boutiques are located in a tourist area. For this, by reopening the shops from mid-May, we will be penalized, having missed the highlights, which are skiing, Carnival festivity and Easter. In-store inventories of the spring-summer 2020 collections could reach 55%, taking into account that the first deliveries of winter garments arrive already in late May – early June.
Since virtue must be made of necessity, the time has come for us to take the big step in the sphere of e-commerce, from which we have always kept away. Maisons themsevels suggest it and provide us with interesting food for thought, to make our online portal beautiful and functional. We are therefore working with great commitment, because the goal is to be ready in late May with a website that can truly replicate the experience of our physical stores, focusing on glamor, service and proactivity: we have wonderful things and exclusive collections and it would be important to meet this schedule. Meanwhile, we are waiting for the month of September, when fashion will finally be back on the catwalk. There will be welcome surprises, because the drop of frenzy that has recently intoxicated the system will certainly give greater impetus to the creativity of the designers. We will finally return to savor beauty and, hopefully, even for new creatives there will be the opportunity to show off.
We have managed to stop after show’s late deliveries, but the drop in turnover will greatly affect the gross operating profit of the first half of 2020.
The real turning point, we hope, will be from July, when we have the winter collection on sale, which we believe it will give us great satisfaction. Hopefully then the valleys will return to be filled with tourists: it has always been this way and our stores are renowned for their research and the variety of proposals. Of course, we are prepared to face a different situation, in which contact with customers will no longer be what it used to but regulated by strict rules. From this point of view, the increasingly large investment on social networks is strategic, which allows us to maintain contact with customers, informing them of news and projects. And if we can’t hug each other, take tea together or sip a cocktail, we will do the same virtually, in an equally suggestive way.
It would be right to rethink fashion with more human and slower rhythms. In the same season, Cruise, Pre, Main, then catwalk and finally Haute Couture. Regardless of the reflections that may arise from Coronavirus, far too many collections are presented on the market.
“Luxury cannot and must not be fast, because luxury needs time to be achieved and appreciated.” We are very much in agreement with Giorgio Armani. “This crisis is also an opportunity to restore authenticity value” Enough with fashion understood as “pure communication”, with cruises around the world to present “weak ideas and entertain with glitzy shows”. “Special events should be made for special occasions, and not as a routine.”
Equally interesting is Giorgio Armani’s idea of skipping or minimizing pre-fall collections. It would be sufficient to present only one collection that also includes pre-collections.
When all this is over, we will still need to look people in the eyes, to feel them physically next to them. Need for freedom and contact, to live (among) people. We must all be far-sighted and responsible, imagine and plan meeting opportunities to recover an ethical social and civil coexistence, capable of re-elaborating a theory of human and environmental justice, where private interest can be reconciled with business in the interest of all, we want to believe in the ethical aspect!
We like to dress and we will continue to do it, but questioning on how many people are exploited to guarantee it and how much we pollute. Independent brands will have to be promoted, those that do not have their shoulders covered by large international groups and that in recent years have found a “place in the sun” in the market thanks to innovative creativity and niche productions, often handcrafted. Where style and value will certainly have an ethical aspect: we can no longer ignore the quality, now that the environment asks us to be more careful and avoid waste, especially after being brought to its knees by an invisible but very powerful enemy like the virus and fear.
What about climate change? Between coronavirus and climate change there seems to be an evident relationship and the increase in pandemics of the last decades has started to be linked to the drastic reduction of biodiversity and pollution. But different – and a lot – is our way of relating to these two problems. Covid-19 was born randomly and suddenly, but then spread quickly and globally. The emergency and mobilization started more or less quickly. For the “climate change” emergency, however, we are still stuck. We know that our inaction will produce increasingly devastating effects on the climate, human life and the economy. Effects in front of which the current pandemic will perhaps seem like a simple cold. Yet, despite being able to intervene immediately to change the situation and reverse the course, with awareness and responsibility, too little is done.
Together with the camera buyer association, we have presented some proposals, many in line with those of CNMI, thanks to President Capasa, who is working hard. We like to mention: the capitalization of Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter 2020 stocks, to try not to have large write-downs in the balance sheet and to be able to value the inventories; the tax exemption of all digital expenses.
We will try to extend the 2020 summer season as much as possible and to contain the reduction of prices or wild sales.
However, we are in a situation of great uncertainty, with warehouses saturated with goods, and reopening its doors once the season is almost over.
In addition, we live in a very competitive global market where big players have already started making discounts and where the average duration of a season is only a few months.
We therefore have great doubts that the market may have the same “hunger” for these products when we have reopened our boutiques, and above all that they want to buy them at full price. Our associates are therefore ready to follow the new calendars and directives that could be redefined together, but it is absolutely necessary that the Top Brands support the weakest part of the supply chain with concrete actions.
Interview with Giovanna Gaudenzi, owner of the Gaudenzi boutiques in Riccione and Cattolica (Rimini) together with her daughter Francesca.
We began all sanitization procedures accurately, starting from the air conditioning filters, with the solvents required by state regulations. We actually closed early on President Conte’s decree because there were no safety conditions required.
The management of our online has been possible with due precautions. We worked in shifts reducing as much as possible the contact between employees, all located always and only with mask and gloves. Now for the reopening, our customers are given hand sanitizer at the entrance, and personalized masks in case they come without. A specific spray, which leaves no residue, is applied to the clothes twice a day. So, if two customers have to try on the same garment, it can be sanitized immediately, in the case of allergy we also introduced the steam spray.
Entry will be limited. The sales results are not so easy to predict, given the more discordant reactions of our regular customers, from those who can’t wait to come back to the shop just to have a talk, to those who are literally terrified. Surely with the coming of the heat people want to look for a sandal and a lighter dress.
There has been no promotion or sales. It is right to give value to the goods that we have in the store. While online adopts discount policies, we have decided to focus on continuous non-season clothing proposals.
This emergency situation has led to a change in the vision of clothing too, there will be more respect for beautiful garments.
Ours is 60% a habitual clientele, a second homes’ tourism. What will surely be missing is the foreign customer. When Rimini airport opens, the flow of international customers will be different. Here also foreign customers are habitual, every year the return and want to renew their wardrobe. Everything will be up to the individual choice but also to the travel possibilities given by the various governments and finally by the availability of the accommodation facilities. The Italians will remain in Italy: the desire for holiday is high, while the concern is more related to the number of people that the structures will be able to accept for the legislation, not to the fact that there will be no tourists.
We have joined an application for smartphones that will allow us to make appointments digitally. The customer can choose garments on the app and come to try on in the store with an appointment directly with a sales employee. A sort of mix between online and physical retail.
Online sales respected, even exceeded, budgets. Obviously a higher percentage of the turnover comes from abroad, even for the most particular things, Italians has bought online only sporty items.
The future of fashion? The brands are already approaching the creation of garments for the next seasons in a different way. Garments that can last more than 4 months and that are iconic and representative, that go well even after many years, and therefore can be mixed with new looks, respecting the brand identity. I endorse Armani’s statements about the change in perception of fashion, the world is changing. We are used to work in six months with continuous changes of designers and strategies. This is the moment of slowness, the return to normal times of the past, less frenzy than pre-collections, Cruise fashion shows, etc.
Digital will help us a lot for research. The technology and sensitivity given by the experience will support us and make up for the lack of being able to view the garments live.
2021 will be a crucial year for us, with new openings and the main goal of becoming 100% green, thanks also to the support of the municipality of Riccione very sensitive to topic of sustainability.
Interview with Pancrazio Parisi, owning together with his father Franco and brother Salvatore of five multibrand boutiques in Corso Umberto, pedestrian shopping street in Taormina.
Given the reopening of hotels and several restaurants scheduled not earlier than July, Parisi reopens three stores, not all of them. The online in these months of lockdown could stem the losses despite the discounts already adopted by the mainstream platforms, and no promotion will be made on the collections inside the store.
I agree with the thought of Giorgio Armani: with sales burns a product instead of defending the thousands of people who work behind it. All this at the expense of our business, which forces us to offer collections that do not last even two months. On March 9 we closed, losing the most important moment of the season, that of the ceremonies. Now that we have finally reopened, the garments have not yet been seen by customers, and it is right to offer them at full price, putting them on sale immediately would be immoral. It is the right time to give a boost. The system as it is does not work, collections must stay longer in stores and discounts must start later.
As the final customer got used to the online and no longer has the enthusiasm to enter the store, it is necessary to make them rediscover the beauty of the physical store by surprising them with the novelty of products never seen elsewhere. The most beautiful experience of fashion is the amazement of the eyes.
We will set up our sales activity by appointment, via email or Whatsapp. The boutiques have reserved areas and lounges with dedicated staff to bring the items to the customer, thus minimizing the passing through inside the shop.
Taormina works mainly with tourism. I hope that the summer season can start with the reopening of European borders, but it certainly will not show the past year’s performances. Many hoteliers are planning with the great unknown that the number of reservations is sufficient to allow them to reopen or force them to postpone. The season of the Greek Theater is completely off, the boats can’t move yet due to the restrictions, so all this puts Sicilian tourism in serious difficulty.
As regards next sales campaigns and fashion shows, I hope that in September they will present men- and womenswear together. Online buying will be very limiting anyway, buying through computers and devices does not have the same value as being in a showroom with the possibility of understanding and touching a fabric and physically appreciating its style, shape and fit.
30% of our purchases dedicated to emerging brands is now even more complicated. Major multibrand showrooms will play an important role, those that have always committed themselves to new proposals. I hope they will have the right tools to propose new brands and make us passionate about more particular and innovative collections and garments.
Maybe in one year everything will be as before. This is the highlight, we need to understand how to move. It is no longer necessary to always look at budgets and turnover, but to scale down. International brands cannot impose huge turnover. We must go back to the old days and reconsider the system: two well-done collections by the right times.
The chamber of buyers has recently changed the president: Santucci has many important projects that I hope can be achieved. From my point of view, there should be one single camera bringing together the fashion’s and the buyers’ one, and which also has a weight on the government level. The fashion sector is the third in Italy and its management needs more concreteness by finding meeting points between those who make fashion and those who sell it. People like us, that with our family businesses for generations, in the strategic points of international tourism, continue to believe, sell and communicate fashion in the world. All resort locations should make synergy and involvement with the customer, who goes to Taormina in the summer, Cortina in the winter or the weekend in Riccione or Forte dei Marmi. Why not creating a Resort Camera? That promotes grand tour of multibrands in Italian tourist places envied by the whole world.