Retailer of the Week
Trend-scout and Quartershop owner Paolo Malgarini
29 Aug. 2012
PAOLO MALGARINI, QUARTERSHOP OWNER IN GALLARATE/LEGNANO, ITALYResearch brands, special goods and the ability to constantly discover and launch new trends, products and labels are the reasons behind the success of Quartershop, a Northern Italian store owned by trend- and brand-scout Paolo Malgarini. The men's streetwear shops are based in Legnano and Gallarate, towns near Milan, and offer cool urban streetwear apparel and accessories. Since founding his first surf-, skate- and snowboard store in 1997, Malgarini’s tastes have evolved to the concept store he runs today. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini
Apart from Vans sneakers and the Vans Authentic model, which are our absolute bestsellers, our main bestsellers during the summer were t-shirts and footwear. For t-shirts, the most popular brands were Obey, Sebago, Red Wing, New Love Club and Suck. In terms of style, people have been buying lots of t-shirts with photographic prints (for instance J.F. Kennedy's portrait as well as nonsensical images such as an enk with a girl's face). Among footwear, the Nike Sportswear Blazer shoes sold very well.
Another bestseller has been Basicon, a Made in Italy (actually Made in Naples) brand. Our clients mostly appreciate this brand for its chinos and camouflage pants. Curiously, apart from its great fit, modern style and profitable price-quality ratio, most models carry a small rope at the waist instead of a belt.
Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
They mostly buy according to impulse. Our clients don't like mainstream trends. They know that what they find in our stores can hardly be found anywhere else. They often visit our stores and get struck by our special - often odd, though unique! – selection of merchandise.
Where do you place your orders? How do you inform yourself about trends?
We get most of our information from trade shows, especially foreign ones. We always find new and interesting products and brands at Bright and Capsule and we also visit many stores when we travel for fairs. Inspiration can come from anywhere - watching people on the streets of different cities or while vacationing abroad, summer holidays in San Francisco or New Year's Eve in Barcelona. During one trip in particular we began playing with the idea of launching some old-style California skateboards. We tried selling them and they became a bestseller!
How important is communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
A major source of communication with our customers is our website, which we started in 2007 and which has become most popular for jeans and streetwear. We constantly post new looks and collection lookbooks as well as store offers as a way to keep our clients up-to-date. When they come into our physical store, we prefer that they look around freely and find what they like best. Our team strives to be proactive and involve our customers in buying and discovering our constantly fresh ideas, visions and trends. We like our clientele to expect the unexpected in our stores with products they might not find somewhere else; for instance, sailing shoes like Sebagos, which is a brand that provides a sharp contrast to our store personality.
What are the most important trends of the moment? Have you added any new labels to your assortment?
We’re predicting a return to a comfier image. We’ve been selling super skinny jeans for a long time, so we think cool comfort will set the course of a new direction. US brand Supreme has just launched a new fit that is neither baggy nor super skinny, but in-between. We’re betting on a new cooler, cleaner street-inspired trend, like an evolution from Cheap Monday towards Nudie Jeans. Our new brands include Carhartt, Pennfield, New Era, Mitchell & Ness, BePositive and New Balance.
How does your store differ from other stores?
We always try to keep one step ahead. We’re constantly working towards being a store that’s not only focused on reaching turnovers but also on presenting special products and ideas. Urban Outfitters is a great source of inspiration for us. Most of all, we give our customers the opportunity to buy products that are intriguing and different from what other stores sell, which has been our main characterization throughout the years.
Our history has also been of interest to our customers. We opened in 1997 in Parabiago (a town near Milan) as a snowboard shop that gradually become more skating-oriented. We slowly started offering trendier apparel along with the snowboarding gear, and added skating gear and skaters' trousers, and later became more involved with music. Our aim was always to differentiate ourselves from others and present a concept of our own. This has always fascinated people and that's why people talk about us and visit our stores.
What do you like about your customers?
I like how our clients have become more independent of brands. Our clients have matured and are no longer brand-addicted. Brands are not necessarily everything. In fact, we often scout and launch brands that are not even distributed in Italy as of yet.
The image of our stores is as important as the product we offer because as our brand list changes, so does our look. We are constantly renovating or revamping an aspect of our stores. For instance, we’ve added some new lamps and vintage furniture in one section and most recently redesigned the footwear room. Furthermore, we’ve developed our own style of folding merchandise in a tight manner that really showcases our merchandise while saving on space.
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