"Being Italian and creating a great product is an advantage but it's not enough," Matteo Sinigaglia says. What else is mandatory to persist in today's competitive denim market? We interviewed the Replay president for our Italian Issue.
What is the role of Italy in global fashion today?
It is central as–especially now–it is setting trends. During the last seasons we have been experiencing a revamp of the ’90s, a decade when Italian fashion was so hot, creative and relevant. For this reason we can now express ourselves at best again in terms of creativity especially in a moment when the global market economy is so competitive and we are all asked to evolve very fast.
Where is Italian jeanswer going today?
It has a great energy and ability to renovate itself, both from an aesthetic and functional point of view. Among Italian jeans brands we are great ambassadors in creating innovation and highly functional products. Consider our Hyperflex jeans: it is a multitasking product that can be worn throughout the day. Today much experimentation is being tested in our country as denim can say so much for innovation. For instance, it is strongly caring for wellness but also because stretch denim has faced such an evolution through the years.
In the past Italy was a hotbed of jeans brands that dominated the market. Today there are much less brands and the leadership seems no longer to be ours. Why did this happen?
Our country has always distinguished itself for being hyper creative and always fast-forward thinking, and for its ability to innovate and for its clear vision of the market. Today being Italian and creating a great product is an advantage but it is not enough. We Italians have a great innate aesthetic sense and a great capacity in making the best products. We also have to think of launching products that, thanks to our own creativity, can be “certified” and promoted. Therefore, today, it is indispensable being able to communicate with the final consumer through marketing and communication initiatives. From this point of view there are markets like the US and Northern European countries that are highly advanced.
How could Italy lead again?
This could happen by learning most technologically advanced ways for communicating each brand’s newest product developments with the final consumer. The best communication can only happen through an adequate ability to exploit technology. A brand should concentrate, for instance, on viral sales campaigns, on offering product globally at the same time through international e-commerce campaigns and social media initiatives that are coherent with each product’s own identity.
Is a general loss of creativity and success of many Italian jeans brands due to the fact that many production hubs, laundries and finishers closed and less experimentation is happening here?
It is true that delocalization has brought a drastic closing down of many production hubs in our country, but for a brand like ours quality and creativity haven’t changed. In fact, we can continue offering top premium quality products by keeping a constant dialogue, monitoring and collaboration with our own technicians working from remote.
The real problem in such cases might eventually be that some tight timing or too fast productive rhythms might cause problems in deliveries. For this reason, for instance, it is important keeping focused on less products–the ones we are stronger and renowned for–and through them conveying our own identity and message. For us, the intrinsic quality of the brand guarantees–no matter where it is produced–the same exact premium quality that hasn’t changed through the years.
How have consumers changed?
Consumers have definitely changed because they are mostly inspired by global macrotrends. Everything can change in very little time thanks to huge worldwide Web platforms. For this reason it is indispensable being able to capture trends while keeping faith to one’s own DNA and being able to communicate it as consumers are more educated and can choose faster.
Do Millennials first care for experience and engagement and only secondly for product and brand?
No. I think there is a need of coherence in communication and convey messages that effectively express a well-defined brand value today.
What relaunch strategies have you followed recently and what aspects characterize your brand today differently from the past?
Our approach is very specialist as we know we are jeans lovers and want to give our point of view on denim as a lifestyle. Innovation has always been part of our DNA and we are not much different from what we were as our intentions are the same ones. The founder Claudio Buziol was the first one to introduce washed and aged jeans. Today we offer products with more technical content that, though, can equally move and influence the market. The language is the same even if contents are different. Three years ago for being relevant in the denim market a product had to be renovated in material and fit to resist the overall uncertainty of the market. We have continued to follow our own path–that is offering a premium denim product always highly innovative such as, for instance, all of our newest products including Hyperflex, Hyperfree, Touch, Hyperselvedge and similar ones. Though, while innovating, we have remained faithful to our jeanswear identity and this is the reason why we are happy for the results we continue to achieve.
What are the markets you are most successful right now for you and why?
We are most successful in Europe as it counts for 45% of our sales. We are especially well accepted in Northern Europe, mostly in the Scandinavian countries and German-speaking countries axis, as they wear denim regularly and understand this product well. Among others we are also registering a significant growth in Italy.
Find out more about the stars and shapers of our Italian ISSUE in the brand new print magazine or check the digital magazine here.