Tommaso Andorlini, owner of the two Playground stores in Florence and Prato, believes that simplicity is key today - especially now when customers privilege price to quality ratio over brands: “We try to create an environment where the consumer can relax and feel at ease," he explains. “We don't like to present a sophisticated world at all costs; simplicity is often a winning formula." Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are the current bestsellers and why?

Today my bestsellers are accessories and footwear. For apparel the products and brands that sell best are those that offer a good price to quality ratio. Outer jackets are selling slowly. Their place was recently over-taken by heavy knitwear, and generally by woolen items. Differently from the past there are no leading products or brands that stand up from our overall offer.

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

My customers are mostly driven by products rather than by brands. Generally my customers often don't even ask for brands. This is a sign of maturity: brands are of most importance to insecure consumers.

Playground store in Florence
Playground store in Florence
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?

Trade shows and traveling to different cities are surely our most significant stimulus, in addition to visiting showrooms and speaking to showrooms' managers.

The internet has become an indispensable for both scouting ideas and brands, as well as for communicating with customers. We communicate with our customers via Facebook and via weekly newsletters through which we offer new brands and inform about new trends. We also check those who visit our website though our newsletters and Facebook during the time we send out our information. This way we understand how much they liked them.

How do you choose the products you offer your usual clients?

While choosing I try to mix "guts" with selling figures. If we only considered sales results we would become repetitive in our offer. If we only followed "guts" sales results would not probably be so good for the following season.

How do the collections you offer for next season look like?

Sincerely the hottest period for scouting is not over yet. I would like to offer some new silhouettes even if a mix of new ideas and new substance at the same time is hard to find.

What are the most important trends, in general?

Every area has its own trends and everyone offers them differently. As said before, today more than in the past it is difficult finding out main trends. This makes a buyer's role harder today, though also stimulating.

Did you add any new labels to your assortment?

We recently added quite some brands such as Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply, Department 5 , Ten C for men; Liis Japan, Pence, Attic and Barn for women.

How does your store differ from other stores?

Every store is like a recipe made up of many ingredients such as location, design, personnel, music, fragrances, products and atmospheres. We try to create an environment where the consumer can relax and feel at ease. We don't like to present a sophisticated world at all costs. Simplicity is often a winning formula.

What do you like about your customers?

My clientele is heterogeneous. I often dress mother and daugther together - sincerely something I like a lot. And I like even more silent and shy customers who - once you have found a key to speak to them - open their heart and trust my staff's proposals.

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
They are fundamental. You can create a special world through some interior design and scenery you can build up. My greatest satisfaction is when the world you represent becomes a certainty for your client even more important than the brand you are now selling.

Store's Contact:

Viale Don Giovanni Minzoni

50129 Firenze

+39 055 575654

Via Pomeria 1/D
59100 Prato
+ 39 0574/603397