Paolo Chermaz and his two brothers run the three George’s apparel stores of Rome. All three boutiques are strongly committed in offering top-quality research products and interesting mixes and outfits in cool yet friendly and intimate environments. Their first shop opened in 1975, concentrates on menswear and men’s contemporary fashion. Their woman’s apparel store was founded in 1999, and their men’s denim and informal clothing shop opened in 2010. All three stores are based in one of most charming areas of the Eternal City, near the Pantheon, and, because of their strategic position, are both visited by tourists and local inhabitants. “Consumers are most price-sensitive today and constantly evaluate if what they are paying is adequate or not,” comments Chermaz. “In this moment customers need to be assured. We all need to act with fairness if we want consumers to step back in stores and buy.” Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini
In general our bestselling brands are Paul Smith (including the denim line), Mauro Grifoni and the M Grifoni jeans line on the one side. Also most appreciated, especially by our Italian clientele, there is Selected a brand of the Bestseller Group, for its adequate balance between quality and price. Among most authentic products we are also selling Redwing shoes and Filson jackets well. In general we sell products that match our taste that is not super young and rock-inspired, though rather focused on aged and washed out beautiful blazers to be matched with clean or washed out denim five-pockets. Always referring to denim our clients are not looking for exasperated treated denims, nor rugged or torn and preferably without breakings and mendings. We are also selling a new jeans brand, Don the Fuller, that offers jeans treated with no chemicals and simply employing natural ageing techniques mostly characterised by great attention for details such as copper rivets, handmade decorated leather tags and similar accessories – all details that our clients generally appreciate. Also outer jackets are selling well, though no special brand can be named among them. We focus more on quality protective products rather than on specific brands in this segment. Certainly we are focused on people who move through the city and catch public transportation or ride scooters.
Do people buy according to their favourite brand, style, or impulse?
In the last seasons consumers have grown confused because there was no certainty for them in terms of prices. All of us retailers were afraid to have too much unsold merchandise left on our stores’ shelves. Seasons were crazy with hot autumns and winters, plus the generally unstable economic situation did even more. For this many of us started discounts and pre-sales, which created confusion and doubt about the real value of a product. We all should keep more faith as regards the actual price of a product, because today it is a crucial factor for the customer. With such unpredictable weather one is no longer willing to buy in September what he will wear in winter. Though a retailer has to pay for the first part of its orders already by November. It would be best to keep lower, stable prices all year long than keeping high-prices no one wants to pay for, since they all know that they will soon be discounted. To sum it up: the consumer cares a lot about prices, and if they have to pay a high price, there must be a serious reason behind it.
Where do you order? How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
We visit fairs but also get to know what is happening in the market through word-of-mouth, agents and salespeople, since we’ve been working in this market for about 30 years. We also use the internet and visual social networks such as Pinterest, Instagram and The Sartorialist - one gets to know what’s hot... they’re indispensable sources of visual information. The street is also very important. One gets to know more from the street than from visiting shows. For instance, look at all the people all dressed up - that crowd at Pitti Uomo! It’s too much, too unnatural. We inform our customers through social networks. It is very important for us to post novelties that we start offering in stores and they often call us back asking about what we showed in our pages as well as through our e-commerce page.
What do the collections you offer for next fall/winter look like and what are the most important trends, in general?
What we most believe in is a modern gentlemen look that is not too affected or too smart. We mostly pay attention to beautiful fabrics, rough surface fabrics, Harris Tweeds and generally products with some vintage taste. Fits are not too tight-fitting. We often think of the 40-something professional that moves with his scooter through the city, though wears a jacket often together with denim or chino pants, or a formal suit but mixed with a Filson or a vintage Barbour coat.
Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
From next f/w 2014/2015 I will add The Gigi, a newborn brand recently created by the Boglioli brothers. After they sold their family brand Boglioli to a fund. This is their new line of jacquard and embroidered blazers. They are a perfect complement for denim.
I think that the difference is in the mix, in the way we present and offer our products. For instance, we present cool total looks that can inspire customers and attract them into our stores. We are also lucky that we are three brothers – all three shareholders even if I own the majority quota. We are always involved in buying products that express the same coherence and care for quality, though offered at an adequate price. Also the way we relate with our customers and our experience are assets that make a difference to our customers’ eyes. Many stores around us all look the same and are often also asking for too high prices, which might induce the customer to feel deceived.
What do you like about your customers? And how important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
I like their faithfulness – when we manage to keep it alive. And it is a great satisfaction when you win their trust because they may even invite you into their home and ask you what it is worth to keep or throw away from their wardrobe. We also learn from our customers. If they are wearing an interesting product we ask them where they found it. It is a two-way path because they can inspire us. Though we always have to be pro-active. Also our presence in social networks can work in the same way. By posting a few new ideas every two-three days we can provide some attraction for any customer –the tourists, those living nearby or staying at about 20 km from the city, who can decide to come by and see our store once in a while. It is not strange that some people are perhaps attracted by a cool bracelet costing only €18 and then end up buying a €700-€800 suit, a €500 blazer or a pair of shoes. Ten years ago when Gallo socks were not popular we started selling them through our stores and it worked similarly. Through a small item shown in your shop window or via social networks you can start building a new trust relationship. There are many stores that are sophisticated and beautiful, though they are cold. It is better you recreate an atmosphere as warm as your home. Our idea is to convey a welcoming, quiet though friendly mood that makes anyone feel as if entering a modern gentleman’s wardrobe.
Via della Rotonda, 20/21
+39 06 97277382
Via del Pantheon, 58
+39 06 6794456 –
Via della Rotonda 5
+39 06 68236205