Hardcore motorcycling fans love Deus Ex Machina's Milan store. Bu not only them: the unique shopping and entertainment destination is much appreciated by a broad clientele that is usually also in love with skating, surfing and cycling activities. A motorbike customizing workshop, a barbershop, a bar, a restaurant and a movie theatre are just some of the activities that, in addition to a cool sportswear apparel store, welcome people from all over Europe. Here, CEO Filippo Bassoli discussed the concept of the store.
What are the current bestsellers of your store and why?
What we sell especially well are products of our own brand Deus Ex Machina, and all the collaborations we do, especially with shoe, sneaker and outer jacket brands such as, for instance, Barbour. These bestsellers are successful for the unique designs and always different graphics. Our customers like the idea to have products characterized by most different variants of our brand name and logo. They also like how our store has become a true brand in itself and a guarantee for unique products and store experience. Our store, whose name is “God from the machine” in Latin, is part of an organization that involves different partners and four other stores all over the world under the same name. The brand was born in 2006 in Australia from a motorcycle customizing company in Sydney. That project soon grew to become a concept store, a brand and a form of cultural expression that now involves different worlds that, in addition to motorcycling, include surfing, skateboarding, cycling and similar activities. After opening in Sydney they opened in Bali (which was born from a surf shaper activity) and still today all the surf stuff we all sell comes from Bali. Them came Venice Beach in LA, Tokyo and Milan, the only one opened in Europe so far.
All stores are purposely different from each other even if we call all of them “Temples of Enthusiasm” for the various activities we host and offer our most varied clientele.
Here in Milan we also manage our Deus Ex Machina apparel collection as a licensing agreement to be sold, in addition to this store, also to other multibrand stores in Italy and Southern Europe. For instance, we sell it to about 100 multibrand stores in Italy and 50 in Spain.
Our business model is very complex as we operate in all the different segments even if motorbikes are our core business as we collaborate with Yamaha, Ducati and BMW, selling special customized motorbikes. Italian singer Jovanotti, for instance, bought his motorbike here...
People love our products for the great creativity of our graphics and for our casual and sporty apparel selection. In fact we sell caps, t-shirts, sweatshirts, bathing suits for surfing and motorcycling jackets. It is not technical apparel but motorcycling aficionados love them for the world they are tied to. We also sell accessories, bags, eyewear, leather accessories and bags for carrying motorcycle adjusting tools. They also like all the different logos we create with our brand and each piece becomes almost a collector’s item as we often change the graphics of our logo. They love our creativity and unique products.
Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
They especially like how we communicate our brand as synonym for dream, passion and freedom, all related to all the activities we love.
Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends?
We visit Pitti Uomo, Seek and various other international trade shows. We often are a source of inspiration for other fashion brands – even if others translate in some fake version of what we create!
How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
We communicate with them through social networks. We count two million followers worldwide. We use social media a lot though our website, Instagram and similar pages. In every country each store has its own Instagram page and each profile has at least a hundred thousand followers each. In order to communicate with our customers we also manage events – as previously said – with Leica, but also with Cinelli, top-quality bicycle manufacturing company.
How do the collections you offer for next fall/winter look like? And what are the most important trends, in general?
Trends don’t exit for us. We have our own trend and convey it coherently. We make our products by adding details and material that are not technical. People buy our products for our graphics and not for trends we follow.
As I mentioned before, we are often launching some trends often inspiring the market. In the last two years, for instance, we have offered a line of motocross perforated tops similar to those which were cool in the '70s. Women like them a lot and often wear them with top designer pieces such as, for instance, a Valentino blazer... We started selling them in order to connect our brand more to the Enduro and motocross activities, but some fashion sensitive consumers made a fashion trend out of that. And other brands are now copying our idea...
Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
We have just started a new collab with classic men's shoe Trickers and previously started another one with Converse launching two customized versions of the Jack Purcell in 2015. We also recently developed a collaboration with Alpha Industries...We like the idea to sign partnerships with some iconic brands. Companies like Barbour and Trickers, recognize a kind of freshness in us.
How does your store differ from other stores?
As I mentioned before we call all of our stores “Temples of Enthusiasm” as each of them – even if in different ways - expresses our passion for the beauty of the motorcycle culture. In addition, we are open seven days a week until late at night. Our Milan store hosts a restaurant, a bar, a workshop for customizing motorcycles, an apparel store, a barbershop and a 70-seat movie theatre where we often present special co-produced movies appreciated by riders, surfers and similar activities. For our Deus Leica Theatre we manage collaborations with Jeep and Leica.
We also keep moto-racing courses in different disciplines such as, for instance, one on flat-track managed by the same instructors who trained champion Valentino Rossi, who, is also a fan of our store – but not because he signed a contract, but simply because he shares our same passion for this world!
We have customers that purposely fly here – also from abroad - and spend an entire day at our store. Our clients are very transversal as you can see; a very important entrepreneur sits just next to couples, mothers and kids, and skateboarding fans. In fact one can buy as little as a 1€ coffee but also a 30,000€ motorcycle here.
What do you like about your customers?
In the first two months after we opened this Milan store we had a camera that took a picture of all the people who entered our store. We noticed that every single person who stepped inside took a picture of our writing “In benzin veritas”.
I also like that many of our fans come here from Paris, Lyon, Berlin and spend the whole day here. When they arrive here – even if recently I can't spend much time in the store – I embrace them. Their presence here gives me joy. Many of them come here because they live the passions we communicate to them. Others simply for chatting and hearing opinions on many topics, just like talking with friends in their favorite bar. I like all of them!
How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
It is very important. For instance, our store is decorated with various old renovated furniture taken from old countryside homes. Plus all metallic elements that are in the store well match these wooden furniture pieces as they convey a rude though welcoming atmosphere...Consider that we prepare about 1,000-1,500 drinks per day and when people want to eat here they have to book three-four days in advance. Plus, as we are not in a central position of the city, for all people coming here we are their final destination. They are not just passing by and enter but come deliberately to visit us.