"Offering a menu" is key according to Ermanno Lazzarin, owner of Milan's connoisseur menswear store Eral 55. In addition offering an array of brand-name collections new and vintage footwear and American-made Levi's, Eral 55 offers its own tailor-made apparel. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are your current bestsellers and why? What are the most important trends at the moment?
People mostly buy products that we produce ourselves through our own tailor-made division. We design according to what people ask for. Our tailors produce menswear according to the spirit of our brand; we don’t offer the usual business suit or special event apparel. We own an archive of our own and can create items in special fabrics and materials - including “Harris Tweed” and cashmere - that we wash or treat in our own way through our own facilities. We offer made-to-measure and hand-made garments; this is the true luxury – not the expensive mass made apparel, but single, unique items, regardless of how much money one spends. Our personal brand names are Avio, which offers contemporary fashions in trousers and jersey items based on market requests, and Sartoria Lazzarin, our tailor-made product line. The latter offers shirts or jackets that have our own personal, detailed touch.

Otherwise, we also offer brands such as Stewart, Filson, Coast Weber & Ahaus, Red, Church and Tricker. All of these products are treated with our own special finishings, dyeing and interpretation, which adds a new value. We don’t sell products, we offer a menu – that is what set us apart from other stores.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or according to impulse?
People buy according to emotions. They are drawn into by our shop windows, they enter and discover all the little details of what we have to offer. Jeans like Edwins and second-hand Levi’s 501s, but also Levi’s Premium, special re-editions and authentic Made in USA historic Levi’s jeans produced between 1879 and 1967 – either made with special indigos and fabrics or selvedge denim. Some are even missing the red label, which wasn't a part of the original design.

We also offer handmade knitwear with thicker wools and special knitted motifs. Our tailor helps us with updating and offering a dynamic range products. A jacket or a pair of trousers don’t look like the pair bought five years ago because we can always customized alterations – fits are slim, but never too much so.

Eral 55, Piazza Venticinque Aprile 14, 20124 Milan
Eral 55, Piazza Venticinque Aprile 14, 20124 Milan

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends?
I visit fairs like Pitti, White, Bread & Butter and Premium. Then I visit showrooms and company offices. Then there is our public. When they come to our store we try to get in touch and communicate with them, understand what they like and why. Inspiration can come from anything; a movie, a book, or anywhere, really.

Right now I’m reading “Into Thin Air,” a book by Jon Krakauer that speaks about the explorers who climbed Mount Everest. This book made me think about how to create the most protective down-jackets possible by using special downs. Those will be ideas for the next fall/winter season.

What do your spring/summer collections look like?
Clothes that make the wearer stand out is the central element of our next collection. Color is a strong point – not for trousers or jackets, but for knitwear, t-shirts button-ups and polos. There will be a lot prints and denims in tops and jackets. The raincoat, neglected in recent times, will return alongside blazers and outerwear. Our jackets will be more and more deconstructed, working on their make, adding inner pockets, employing secondhand materials from military pieces. Chinos remain an important element. Cool wool is also important but not in the form of the traditional clean and pleated trouser; we're using two-ply wools that are washed and treated with purposefully aged aspects.

We will keep a selection of secondhand items as well. Our secondhand shoes are a top-notch selection from Church, Trickers, Alden, Allen Edmonds and Edward Green. It is a unique offer, but not in terms of quantity; we almost always keep about 70-80 pairs on stock, and each one is different from the other. There is also an offer of Timberland and Justin workwear boots as well as Red Wing – both new and secondhand.

What do you love about your customers?
I like the idea that they come to our store in search of a unique look. They are not people who want to look like everybody else, but ones who are interested in creating their own identities.