Offering support to clients is key for Altamodauomo, men’s and women’s fashion store in Modena, Italy. “Nowadays shopping is generally done by self service, but we offer something different,” explains Ludovico Martinez, owner, whose main source of research are the streets of international fashion cities. “Our major source for research is...walking, walking through the streets, looking at the people, how they dress and their clothes look like.” Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

Impression of the Altamodauomo store in Modena
Impression of the Altamodauomo store in Modena
What are the current bestsellers and why?
Among our bestselling brands there are Margiela, both main and diffusion line, Tonello and Comme des Garçons (both for men and women). Referring to jeans, Edwin is our number one bestselling brand. All these brands are successful because my customers buy here products that are high-quality, clean and cool, though not too extravagant since we live in a province town where too hyped fashion is not loved. In any case I dress entrepreneurs and working people who like to feel good all day long and also after working hours. This way they can stay out and spend their evening out.
Also successful are less renowned brands, but also top quality such as, for instance, John Smedley a British knitwear brand. Among footwear Sperry Topsider is most successful with sailing shoes and slip-ons. Men's sneakers are also selling very well, especially New Balance, which I sell really well.
Our store's focus has always been men's fashion even if for the last three years and a half we have been offering some women's fashion because of the closing of a nearby store, once part of the same group. In winter 2012, we also started selling women's fashion that, at time, counted for about 15-20% of our sales and now represents 50%, as much as men's fashion.

Impression of the Altamodauomo store in Modena
Impression of the Altamodauomo store in Modena
Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
Brand names and logos are not my clients' main concerns! On the contrary we prefer to offer and sell products whose logos are as invisible and less evident as possible. In any case what we sell best are products we like. And our customers trust us and our taste. Nowadays shopping is generally done by self service, but we offer something different. People like to pass by, talk, listen to us to find out what's cool and what we discovered. They might visit us once or twice and leave without buying anything. On their third visit they most often buy. They like to hear our opinion and suggestions what they think looks great on them and about our suggestions mixing products.

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
I like to make my research by simply walking, walking and walking. I like to visit international cities and look around their streets how people are dressed, how they mix products and how their clothes are made. My favourite cities are New York and Paris, and, I just newly discovered, Berlin. I used to visit London regularly, only recently I stopped going there. I generally prefer to get information from the street rather than from the web. The only exception is Instagram through which I can see what many stores and brands are doing.
When communicating with customers I often inform them by simply speaking even if we also keep them updated by sending e-mails, SMS and social network updates and similar ways. We also inform our customers through our website We only inform them on our website but don-t sell via e-commerce. I never set up an e-commerce page when many retailers did theirs six-seven years ago. That requires a much different organization, plus, I think that buying products in a store still is the best way to touch, feel and see how a product looks on you. You may buy a bag, but for clothes is a totally different thing.

How do the collections you offer for next season look like? And what are most important trends, in general?
I think that for men there will be less fitted items and a more comfy image - also for jeanswear. In the past I mostly sold modern dandy looks, while now I also sell many sporty-chic looks. There are less suits and more mixed looks, often complete by sneakers and a more casual attitude. Women like to experiment more and also mix boyfriend jeans with sneakers but also with heels. It all depends on their mood and what attitude they opt for.

Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
I recently added Ann Demeulemeester. I know it is not new, but it’s new for us. New is also Orion, a nice brand of jackets for women we sell at a very good price-quality ratio. For men we also added White Mountaneering but in general I tend to work with the same brands. Some of them really guarantee a good service ever since I started working with them.

How does your store differ from other stores?
Education, service and humbleness. I always get great help from professional companies working with us. Slam Jam and Staff International are offering us the best service, for instance. In general we prefer not to make a show of ourselves, we prefer to get along well with everyone - also with other similar stores nearby - and always to listen to our customers.

What do you like about your customers?
As I said before I like how they trust us and listen to us. They really take into serious consideration our opinion, taste and expertise. Moreover, they also like to visit our stores because they know they can speak to us even about some personal problems. We give them attention and like to listen to them. And very often they also return and buy.
What I like less is when they ask you a discount but I have to do it because, especially in this town we have many clients that shop here since when they were kids and came with their parents and now shop for themselves.

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package? How do you approach your customers?
It’s absolutely important. We change our shop windows three times a year. For fall/winter, for spring/summer and - most importantly for the Christmas shopping season. We once decorated the shop window and front part of the store and made it look like a mountain hut. Creating an environment that makes the shop feel at ease, welcoming and astonishing helps us a lot.

Altamodauomo Canalgrande, 63/A
41121 Modena