Two dreamy shopping locations, outstanding service and a selection of unique products characterize the identity of the Franz Kraler boutiques located at two prestigious Italian mountain holiday destinations. Owner Daniela Kraler explains how their excellent store service and choice of products are loved by Italian and international clientele alike. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are the current bestsellers and why?
Among our bestselling brands there are top designer brands (including Prada, Vuitton and Fendi) as well as premium sportswear brands such as Moncler, Moncler Gamme Bleu, Gamme Rouge and White Label. Another bestseller is our own brand, FK 1902. Our international clientele appreciate these brands because our boutiques are located at two exclusive alpine skiing resorts only a few kilometers from the border of neighboring countries (Austria and Eastern Europe) and visited by international VIPs, entrepreneurs, politicians, snow sport athletes and coaches in addition to clients from throughout Italy, Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe. Other clients from around the world include those from North, Central and South America, the Arabic countries, Australia. Of course our store welcomes people from all walks of life. All our customers are interested in finding the best when it comes to luxury sportswear – whether jackets, skiing overalls with fur trim, supercomfy moonboots, hi-tech goggles or fashion sunglasses. At the same time we also serve clients interested in good value for money offered by our own private label. All of them come to our stores looking for some special product they are not likely to find anywhere else.

Franz Kraler store in Cortina
Franz Kraler store in Cortina

Do people make purchased based on their favorite brand, style, or on impulse?
They buy according to a mix of these three elements, even if emotion and impulse are guiding them the most. We have been running our business for about 30 years and both our stores are in a magical kind of location. Our Dobbiaco store – which we redesigned in 2010 – is inside a castle and occupies 2,000 square meters of space and has displays 50  display windows. We just redesigned our Cortina store in December 2013 and it has twice the retail space and opens onto a central square. Both locations are set in a beautiful natural environment and also attractively designed. Anyone can stroll into our stores at either location, enjoy themselves and relax while browsing through our vast offering of products and brands.

Who do you order from? How do you keep track of trends? How important is communication with regular customers and how do you communicate with them?
First of all we go to all the most important fashion events and shows  in New York, Paris, London and Milan, including the White Milan show. Moreover we stay in touch with our clients who are based all over the world. We often meet with them in order to learn where their strongest interests are and also to keep up with what is happening internationally. We also keep them informed about our initiatives through social networks and our Facebook page. Our peak seasons are the winter – all of December – with winter sports, but also the summer (our sales peak in mid-August) when people go hiking, paragliding, trekking and horseback riding.

What do the collections you offer for next spring/summer look like? And what are the most important trends in general?
Sport remains an important trend inspiring next summer’s looks. Neoprene and nylon are dominating the scene. Many anoraks, windbreakers and bomber jacket are going to stand out, especially decorated with flowers, embroidery and sequins – and also perfect for an Oscar night. Boxer sneakers and Birkenstock sandals are in, especially if worn with heavy socks (like those worn by soccer players) under a skirt. K-Way jackets can be worn with a black little dress. Mixing different – and apparently clashing - worlds and inspiration is going to be cool. Our store is offering both and the styles can be easily mixed and matched.

Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
Most recently we added Alexander McQueen, Giuseppe Zanotti, and Stone Island (they are doing great research and also offer a kids wear line – and fathers like to have their kids wear the same items they wear). We also started including K-Way and especially a selection of bags, plus Hydrogen by offering reversible down jackets covered with sequins on one side and Day-Glo yellow on the other.

How does your store differ from other stores?
As I said before, the fantastic setting where they are located and also the spacious retail spaces give us the opportunity to present all the collections we are offering in the best light. A luxury environment, atmosphere and stock list is what sets us apart.

Franz Kraler store in Dobbiaco
Franz Kraler store in Dobbiaco

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package? How do you approach your customers?
They are supercuddled. Our Dobbiaco store is a 2000-square-meter concept store including a bar in the store where anyone can try out teas, coffees, infusions made with local herbs and small typical local biscuits. We also set aside space for pet dogs – both inside and outside our store – and an area where customers can leave their horses (many of them go horseback riding nearby). We also have an area where kids can play while looked after by our personnel. Plus, if anyone has a small accident (which can happen at a mountain resort), the store is barrier-free and thus also easy for older people and the handicapped to access.
In Cortina, when some of our clients have traveled a long distance, we also open our stores for them even when we are normally closed. Despite the wide variety of customers we serve, we follow the same approach for all of them, providing them with straightforward and courteous service– no matter if they are looking for super expensive items or more affordable ones. We also try to offer simple products such as top quality blazers, jackets, short loden coats, cooked wool shoes and ultralight down bags – all made in our region by small local enterprises according to our local traditions and at affordable prices.

What do you like about your customers?
We like their faithfulness. They come from all over the world and, although we are not based in a big city, they always come by to shop with us – and not only in the high season, but all year long. They trust us and often call to ask if they can buy anything and have it shipped to them. We have started e-commerce only just recently, but will soon also concentrate on that, although we want to find a less distance and anonymous way to do it than the approaches others are following. Our stores are mostly appreciated for the friendly way they welcome and cuddle their customers.
We will also be completing a new project by the end of 2014.  We want to establish a small resort in Dobbiaco with no more than 20 small suits in our green areas – because we have so many eco-friendly criteria we have to follow. Its name will be Villaggio Kraler.

Store adresses:
Franz Kraler
Via Dolomiti 46
I-39034 Dobbiaco
+39 0474 972328

Corso Italia 107
I-32043 Cortina D'Ampezzo
+39 0436 3197