“It's all a matter of store atmosphere,” according to Daniele Sonnino, owner of the menswear store Kolby in Rome. “The emotional aspect is very important in the purchase phase,” explains Sonnino.” Product offer and store atmosphere have a strong impact on customers' decision,” he continues while explaining that his family's two Kolby stores earn most of their revenues (about 80%) from their own Kolby private label. This total look brand offers both men's and women's apparel even if the menswear brand is more established since it was founded by Daniele's father in the 1980s together with the man's store, while the woman's line was launched in 2011 when they opened their second store, now managed by Antonella, Daniele's sister, in Via del Governo Vecchio. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are the current bestsellers and why?
Among our bestselling brands there is Kolby, our own total look private label, mostly appreciated for its cotton and linen shirts offered in micro patterns and floral printed versions. Linen vests, jackets in cotton microweave fabric variants and stretch gabardine trousers were also successful this season. Kolby offers a complete total look for men and women. Our two Kolby stores earn most of their revenues (about 80%) from our own private label. This total look brand offers both men's and women's apparel even if the menswear brand is more established since it was founded by my father in the 1980s together with the opening of our man's store. We also launched a woman's line in 2011 when we opened our second store focused on woman's apparel, now managed by my sister Antonella. The man's line is mostly characterized by a smart casual look, often inspired by military styles of the 1900s, and sportswear looks inspired by the early days of Massimo Osti's C.P. Company. Kolby also offers accessories such as leather bags and footwear. The store also sells brands such as Jey Coleman, Scotch & Soda, Moma, Pantanetti, Buttero and Campomaggi.

Kolby Rome
Kolby Rome

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
The emotional aspect is very important. Most often the interaction of aspects such as product and store atmosphere have a strong impact on customers' decision. Store decor and merchandise's lay-out play an important role.

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends?
We learn about novelties by visiting specialized trade shows of apparel, footwear, accessories and fabrics.

How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
We have our own website, too. The on-line section is now in a work-in-progress phase and very probably will be operating from s/s 2016.
The idea is to let an accurate facebook page run parallel to our website. In addition to that we are not running any other channels of communication with our customers. In any case the idea of communication has grown to become a massive and distorted one. In today's panorama the added value lays in the quality and not in the quantity of communication. When it comes to my idea of communicating with our customers I try to transfer to them our message with spontaneity, competence and passion.

How do the collections you offer for next season look like? And what are most important trends, in general?
For both jackets and trousers most trendy will be woolen ones. Men's jackets will continue to be short, even if lapels are slowly getting wider. Trousers are tight at ankles despite waist are getting softer and are not as tight as in the past and most often completed with pleats. Another must-have for next year will be the vest.

Did you add any new label to your assortment?
Accessories by Kjøre Project (also see our Label to Watch story) are new and interesting.

How do your stores differ from others?
They distinguish themselves by their own brand identity. Our products have remained faithful to our own identity despite the fact that they constantly updated themselves through the years.

What do you like about your customers?
It all depends on the type of client. They generally like to get compliments and this is a pleasure to us. It is also a great satisfaction knowing that our customers – both Italian and foreigners – consider visiting our store as a tradition or even a ritual.

How important are the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package? How do you approach your customers?
As I had explained before our customers are influenced in their purchase by our store's environment. There is a mutual positive exchange between interior decors and merchandise offered. Our store's decors are characterized by authentic industrial design decors, mostly made with wood and iron. There is a very positive and coherent exchange between product and interiors therefore they help each other emphasizing our own store concept and identity.

Kolby Roma (menswear)
Via Nazionale 203-203/A

Kolby Roma (womenswear)
Via del Governo Vecchio 4
00184 Rome