Retailer of the Week
Fabrizio Elia, owner of Docksmart
05 Apr. 2011
FABRIZIO ELIA, DOCKSMART, MILANToday, both young and more mature customers are searching for quality, while keeping an eye on reasonable prices, according to Fabrizio Elia, owner of Docksmart. Organizing events and special initiatives helps making one's own clientele happy and continuing to love a cool shopping location. Docksmart is a historical shopping destination for Milanese fashionistas. Born as Docks Dora, at the end of the 1990s and based in the Southern outskirts of Milan, inside a former mill of the 1930s restored according to all the criteria of modern industrial design, it was known for its expertise in offering vintage clothing - both sportswear and fashion - and as THE place for meeting people and hanging out. About two years ago, the store’s owner changed and with this its product offer, though it maintains its spirit as a welcoming place where you can meet friends and relax while you are shopping. By Maria Cristina Pavarini
“We are no longer offering second hand fashion at all since we feel that the market has totally changed. We are rather serving both 25-40-year-olds and the teenage market, equally divided among men and women. In general, women buy more often and all-year-long, and prefer medium-priced products. Men, instead, usually buy at the beginning of the season and during sales times, though they mostly buy high-end products. Our offer includes products with a high price-quality ratio – both upcoming smaller brands often made in Italy - as well as established sportswear and premium jeanswear brands, though only focusing on good quality products. Our price range is between €49 and €159 for a pair of jeans.
Among our bestselling brands, Maison Scotch is the most popular by both our male and female clientele. It is a new brand that stands for originality of the product and has a strong appeal.
Women like Italian fashion-minded brands such as Doralice, Manila Grace and Yumì, but also the Spanish collection Kling which offers printed feminine dresses. Also successful is Object, a brand of the Bestseller Group. Most popular styles are checked shirts (especially by Maison Scotch), oversized t-shirts and generally oversized tops combined with leggings of most different materials, denim included. Not that successful, at present, are jeans for women. Women also buy knitwear by, for instance, Mia Wish, as well as other brands produced by small companies from the Carpi area, an Italian manufacturing district that is now being rediscovered for its high-quality products. A few years ago, low-cost manufacturing areas were preferred, but right now we are noticing a return to producing in these highly specialised productive regions. Most popular hues are mud and dusty pink; silhouettes include ‘banana-shaped’ models, oversized styles and pieces with wide collars.
Men love checked shirts right now, but they also buy a lot of leather and leather imitation jackets, or alternative nylon models inspired by the classic K-Way windbreaker style. Apart from women, jeans for men are not suffering and are sold in most different styles, though the Arc Pant, the historical G-Star anti-fit model recently was relaunched on occasion of the style's 15th anniversary, is our hottest product. In this case, the price is high since it is offered at prices that range between €100 and €170. We are also selling well Scotch & Soda as well as Hotel, an Italian fashion men’s brand with excellent fits and construction, though more expensive since a men's mixed linen outfit costs about €400. At present, I notice that also chinos are gradually selling, they are starting to become an alternative casual pant appreciated by our customers, though men's jeans continue to sell well.
Also younger consumers enter our store and mostly buy younger brands like Blomor (editor's note: a t-shirt and sweatshirt brand characterised by fun slogans and decors), Quiksilver and Carhartt.
Customers are now ready to buy fewer items that have a better quality, and are also again looking for products that are made in Italy. In fact, whereas what once was considered as low-cost manufacturing has gradually increased its prices by about 20%, quality in contrast has not followed the trend. For this reason, people tend to buy less while looking for higher performance and quality. Consumers are again ready to spend a little more, sometimes even less, but they are expecting excellent quality.
We often organize special events and initiatives in order to please our clients. That’s why, every month we launch a special initiative with special discounts on a certain product group or we offer a mid-season sale. We also have the Docksmart Card, a customer card where they can get a 10% discount. Moreover, after they have gained a certain amount of points, they can get special extra discounts."
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