This week, Sportswear International talked to Mario Bonamigo, owner of Sears in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, a menswear must-go shopping location for fashion aficionados and jeanswear insiders. The brand portfolio of Sears includes labels such as Aglini, Denim & Supply, Red Seal, HTC, Edwin, Pence, Red Wing, Levi's Vintage, Nudie Jeans, Borsa, Reds, Philippe Model, Paul Smith, Dukes, Mauro Grifoni, Barbour, Woolrich and B.D. Baggies. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarani

What are the current bestsellers and why?
The absolute bestselling brand is Philippe Model. This sneaker brand offers an aged look, very elaborated sneakers that all my clients love. Chinos are selling better than jeans right now and generally they sell best in the trouser segment. Reds - mostly chinos and - even if less - combat trousers are the real bestseller when it comes to trousers. Regarding denim, Edwin is the number one label and, generally, for jeans slim fits are most popular. They have to be aged and outworn though. If not, no one wants to buy them. Also successful are shirts by Aglini and Xacus as well as denim shirts by Ralph Lauren's RRL. Regarding outer jackets, everything was stagnant so far. After this weekend with lower temperatures, I hope I can sell more outerwear.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or by impulse?

Absolutely because of the style of the shop! What people buy and appreciate from our store is the selection we offer and the outfits we present inside our store and in the display windows.

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is the communication with regular customers?
For my orders I usually visit showrooms and offices in Milan and shows like Pitti in Florence, but also other trade shows in Paris or London - this way I can also find out about the newest trends. I also buy many Japanese magazines and I spend much time on the internet. We also communicate a lot with our customers who always want to be updated through social media. For this, we inform them via our weekly newsletter: we send our newsletter to 900 contacts every week and our facebook page counts 550 friends. The website presents catalogues of the collections we offer, which is very useful for our facebook activities. It's a constant reciprocal exchange of information between the website and facebook.
Sears interior
Sears interior

How do the collections you offer for next fall/winter look like? What are the most important trends, in general?
What customers are looking for most is a sort of "homeless chic" but always with great attention to details. On top, they wear shirts and jackets, casual though short, well-fitted, carefully detailed and clean. Bottoms, instead, have to be broken, mended, aged, and dirty. Moreover, I hardly sell a 54 (editor's note: Italy's bigger sizes). Our customers are always thinner and put great focus on their image and body. It is as if we put a scanner on our door and some body types don't even enter the store!

Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
For s/s 2012, I added RRL, Replay Red Seal and my favorite brand, Engineered Garments. For RRL, managers from Ralph Lauren told us they chose to sell their brand in six stores in Italy! It is a great privilege and a responsibility for us...

How does your store differ from other stores?
First of all, for the style of what we offer but also how we present it in our store and windows, and also thanks to my team that takes care of our customers with professional skills.

What do you like about your customers?
They trust me and my team! They truly come to our store asking for advice and information. Moreover, there are many people who work in the jeanswear market who visit us very often. We are based between the headquarters of Diesel and Replay and clients like to look around and see what we offer. Moreover, I think that a big change has happened recently. For the last six to seven years, people have only been buying according to brand names. Now everything has changed and - just like it happened 30 years ago - people go back buying according to what a store is offering focusing on quality, great products and ideas - which I think is all based on professional skills and dedicated work.

How important is the interior, the atmosphere, and the whole package?
The interior, the atmosphere and the package make my shop one of the most popular in the city. We take care of all of these elements. In addition, when a customer leaves our store, we wrap what they bought with a thin layer of paper before putting their purchase inside the shopping bag. Then we give them a small envelope where the receipt is kept. Every small element is taken care of. For Christmas, we are thinking about giving our customers a small gift - a small aged-looking medal or pendant, it has to be a small object since men don't like big jewels.