Attilio Mazzini: "Telling a story about what you are selling is key!"
Attilio Mazzini: "Telling a story about what you are selling is key!"
Establishing personal relationships with menswear customers, engaging their curiosity and organizing sales events is key for Attilio Mazzini, the Italian retailer and owner of his own secondhand clothing archive. Knitwear and deconstructed blazers are his store's bestsellers, while basic chinos complete the unique collection. "Telling a story about what you are selling is key," he explains. “Customers are curious to learn and when discovering the quality and the concept behind a product, they are ready to spend for it." Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are the current bestsellers and why?
Thick knitwear, deconstructed jackets, jersey blazers and generally relaxed blazers have been selling exceptionally well. Among our bestselling brands is Stone Island's Shadow project, specifically because our customers enjoyed that we explained how the product was born. A peacoat jacket by Paul Smith also worked well. For knitwear, our bestseller was Fabrizio Del Carlo, particularly a zip-up cardigan in raw, non-twisted wool that provides a shabby-chic image that our clients often appreciate. As far as pants go, San Francisco, an established brand designed by trouser specialist Romano Ridolfi, sells well. Our offer consists of mostly chinos, as well as Jaggys (comfort trousers with 2% stretch) and Cycle, the only denim brand we carry. Dark, slim fit jeans sell more than anything else.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
They buy according to emotion. As I said before, they like to listen to stories behind products and like to learn about what we offer. For this we often organize special days when we start a new season, usually during holidays or Sundays as to add another selling day during the week. We also like to spend time with our clients, get to know them, and encourage them to try on some items, which often results in purchase - though never forced.

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is communication with regular customers?
We like to spend time with people who visit our store and get to know more about them – what they do, what their cultural interests are, and so on. We also keep and sell art pieces by upcoming artists such as Nicola Samari and Bertozzi & Casoni. Some people are attracted to us because of our huge archive of secondhand clothes, which we often lend to fashion designers and companies. Speaking to people, however, is of utmost importance because they are then opened to a dialogue though which we can establish a trusting relationship.

Are there any new brands or products that have recently been added to your offer?
We added Paul Smith accessories and footwear (mostly desert boots - either zip- or lace-up) as well as other new brands, but we generally remain faithful to brands we already carry. When we choose brands we continue working with the same ones and seldom "dismiss" them because we are confident in our original choices and tend to establish long-term relationships with them.

How does your store differ from other stores?
We like to constantly organize events during the selling season - be it for a season's leftover items or for the beginning of a season, when we present a new collection. Moreover, people like the idea of buying special, limited edition items, which we inform them about via e-mail or SMS. For instance, for jeanswear - which is generally harder to sell at the moment – we emphasize that the jeans we are selling are among the few that are left in that nuance, shade, wash or treatment. This is true, especially these days. In the past, denim brands like Levi's used to offer the same models, colors and finish season after season. Now much has changed - and I don't like it. Today jeans brands, while generally offering similar fits or models season after season, constantly change shade, color, or finish. Despite the fact that I don't like it, as a selling topic it can be a good element to start with. To that I often say, "If you like it, you'd better buy it since it is one of the few ones left in that treatment." And people buy it. But if they return next season asking for that exact finishing they can't find it it anymore, which is a pity.

Mazzini (men's store), Via Martiri della Liberta 12, 48024 Massa Lombarda, Italy
Mazzini (men's store), Via Martiri della Liberta 12, 48024 Massa Lombarda, Italy

What do you like about your customers?
The fact that they appreciate our advice. For instance, if someone comes in with the idea to buy a pair of trousers, we show them different pieces that could complete the outfit while he or she is in the fitting room. They actually like how we style products on them, shortening sleeves or positioning a knitwear item in the right way, often changing their habits or making them appear more stylish. Most of our customers read a lot of magazines and appreciate if you dress them up a bit and make them feel like part of a small fashion show.

I also like when, sometimes, just for fun, customers can take a joke. Once, for example, a regular customer asked for a higher discount than usual and I told my assistant to hang a photo of the guy outside of the shop with the label, "Please keep this person outside.” It is an intimate approach that makes people feel at home and welcome.

We also own another Mazzini store in Lugo di Romagna, where we sell brands like Y-3, Isola Marras, Ache, Aviau and bijoux; women speak out a lot there, but so do men, despite often being more reserved.

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
People like the atmosphere of our store and that sort of “pleasant" and "controlled" disorder that they may find in it. For instance, our archive constantly receives loads of secondhand items that are left inside the store before they are sorted and stored. If people enter when these bundles are there, they are curious to immediately see what's inside, and we like the idea of sparking their curiosity. This is also something that sets us apart from other stores. Once we received a stock of small camouflage bags from Croatia. Even before we had stored them and decided on a price, some were already sold. Customers also generally like the idea that we offer our own collection that cannot be bought anywhere else. Companies normally offer very wide collections, but we choose a selection of what we like best and think can be matched together, in terms of fits, colors and also weights. The thick pullover, for instance, can be worn with lighter coats. Nothing happens by chance.

Attilio Mazzini runs two stores:
Mazzini (men's store), Via Martiri della Liberta 12, I-48024 Massa Lombarda (RA),
Tel.: +39 0 54 58 11 96

Mazzini (women's store), Via Baracca Francesco 53/1 - 48022 Lugo (RA),
Tel: +39 0 54 53 58 35