This week, Sportswear International talked to Emanuele Bini, owner of Bini Jeans, Robbiate, Italy, about professionalism and customer service being the key elements to success in a market flooded with special sales, aggressive priced products and - often - little innovation.

“Our work has notably changed in the last two to three seasons. Today, entrepreneurs and retailers in the fashion industry are facing an era change. Our customers are no longer looking for the product or the brand.

Today, people are used to spend little money for dressing up with a certain taste. They can find it at manufacturing groups, foreign and Italian retail groups, outlet villages, through sales, promotions, or at temporary shops. To put it short, any customer, when they leave home, even before asking themselves if they need anything, they are overwhelmed with special price offers, but also with marketing, communication, advertising and image.

Nowadays, for us retailers and insiders, it is indispensable becoming true specialists. And aiming at a well-defined target group and reaching it with the right strategy means being professional.

In the past, our clients’ question was: ‘I need a pair of jeans...I watched that new Diesel's advertising on that new Diesel jeans. Are you selling it?’ Today my customer is asking me: ‘I have to go to a wedding, an important dinner, a spa opening, or a business lunch...what do you think I should wear?’

Our customers are willing to pay for professionalism if one is able to offer it. And there's the problem. The so-called ‘service’ that diffferentiates us from others, that special suggestion or that new idea for an outfit for a special occasion makes the difference.

We are working with brands like Armani Jeans, Bikkembergs, Alessandrini, Trussardi Jeans, Museum, Diesel, Meltin’Pot, Zu Elements, Firetrap, Guess by Marciano, 313, Refrigiwear, Only 4 Di Patrizia Pepe and some new brands like Bacon and Smash. It’s interesting to see that some companies offering licensing brands are opening a new path in the market, like t-shirts by ABACAB with characters like the Simpsons or Superman, Batman, Duff, Bluff, Faccine, Ghostbusters..., or those by Fix Design (Linus, I Love New York, The Seven Dwarves, Minnie Mouse, etc.). People seem to forget their worries when they buy an item that makes them smile or even laugh, though a smile or a little enjoyment cannot cost them more than €30 (for a t-shirt) or €60 (for a sweatshirt).

I sell jeans well, but they have to fit perfectly. The skinny fit is my bestseller. For women it is almost like a jegging, as offered by Met and Zu Elements. For men, my bestsellers are styles with medium rise, stretch fabrics and tight at the ankle, as offered by Armani Jeans and Roy Rogers.

Also successful are tracksuit pants by Frankie Garage, colorful kefiahs, women’s dresses by Guess by Marciano and Fairly, down duffle coats by Ad Hoc and Armata Di Mare and men’s water-repellent thick knitwear items by Marina Yachting. As usual, rather than wool and coats, my clients prefer to buy parkas and down jackets. Bomboogie is the most successful brang among my female customers for their style and their reasonable prices. Refrigiwear is still very popular, especially for nylon bomber jackets.

What I wish I could sell in my store, is a new upcoming designer menswear line, Maurizio Miri, for its quality in fabrics and yarns, and for its most intriguing fits. Every time I see a new collection from that designer, I find always new inspiration from his jackets, suits and knitwear. Finally there’s a designer and not simply product. I want to find new stimuli and communicate them to my consumer who really needs to find new strong ideas before their already low interest in fashion totally vanishes.”