This week, Sportswear International presents surfwear stores Surfactivity from Italian city Genoa based on the Ligurian Coast. We talked to the owner and surf expert, Federico Traverso, about the latest trends in surf apparel and customer relationship. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are the current bestsellers and why?
Our season's bestseller for summer are knee-length shorts with side pockets. Our customer's favorite color! What can I do? Genoa people love to wear navy blue! For the last winter season, instead, our bestseller was a crossover item between a hooded zipped sweatshirt and an outer jacket. It was a reversible item lined with a sort of synthetic teddy bear-like fur. It was mostly appreciated for its comfort and cool image, but also for its originality since it was not sold by anyone else at that time.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or by impulse?

Since we are offering our Surfactivity private label only, people that are buying here have already made their choice. I think that people mostly shop by emotion. We try to offer top quality products for materials, manufacturing and taste, plus adding an attractive price to this is helping us a lot, especially at this moment.
Surfactivity interior
Surfactivity interior

How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is the communication with regular customers?
Referring to market trends, we visit trade shows like Bread & Butter, Magic and CPH Vision. Additionally, we get much inspiration from visiting stores worldwide. Every time we visit some show, we also spend some time looking through fashion stores in Europe's and the world's capitals having a look at what they are offering. Berlin, Paris and New York are no doubt a constant source of inspiration regarding most different points-of-view.
Communication is always important and talking to our regular customers even more. For this, we regularly organize events inside our stores in summer and, since we are based in Genoa, directly on the beach. This helps building friendships and relationships with our customers.

How do the collections you offer for next summer look like?
We work according to fast-fashion rhythms. For this, our summer collection deliveries are still in a work-in-progress phase. We will surely focus on t-shirts, the best-selling items in our stores. Since this year, we have started collaborating with different artists. This way we could widely enlarge our offer in terms of graphic motives and styles, two elements truly appreciated by our clients.
Generally our distinguishing element is our strong bond to the sea and -especially- to surf as a lifestyle, getting together and enjoying while respecting each other and the nature around us. This summer, we also opened our Surfactivity School where we teach surfing, windsurfing and canoeing.

What are the most important trends, in general?
Most important elements are colors such as pastel hues and new fits. Now more comfy fits are gradually returning after a long time of slim fits have ruled.

Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
By now we are only selling our own brand and we hope we can manage going on like this.

Surfactivity interior
Surfactivity interior
How do your stores differ from other stores?
Our stores are internally designed and decorated (from the cash desk to shelves, etc...) with unique pieces and furniture designed by us and exclusively being produced for our stores. This way, we are sure that nobody else will carry the same piece of decor or element as ours. Also from this we can express all our love for surf and the world around it. One can also perceive it from the quality of materials we use such as, for instance, floors, shelves and part of the walls are covered with larch, a precious wood type. The store also presents surf boards - both new ones to be sold as well as collector's items or vintage ones - and photographs hanging on the walls showing our customers surfing at most different surfing spots allover the world.

What do you like about your customers?
They are very affectionate to our stores and like to participate in all of the initiatives we invite them to. This is already a success in itself. It means we already managed conveying them something which goes beyond selling our apparel items.

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
All of them are fundamental elements. For this, we gave great importance to interior decors. And our stores are constantly evolving. In fact, when our clients come back from some trip or after cleaning up their basement, they always bring us some gadget or memorabilia tied to years they spent surfing.
In our main store, we also keep a room for our clients where they can relax, read magazines or surf publications but also watch surf videos maybe while having a small beer or talking about the last sea storm.