Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

Offering quality products with personality is Paolo Beghini’s mantra. This retailer, a long time expert in the sportswear, streetwear and sneaker industry, has been running his Kosmos Store in Trento since mid-1995. “Betting on products full of character rather than fast passing trends can be a harder and sometimes painful path, but customers recognize that everything we offer has a personality and they earn one, too,” he likes to say.

Kosmos' storefront
Kosmos' storefront

What are the current bestsellers of your store and why?
The bestselling apparel brand of my store is Carhartt. It is also the brand I have been selling since I started. It is the brand I sell best for its quality, style and credibility. It is unique for its fits, materials and its great price-quality ratio. And, not less important, this brand has found always new ways for evolving and reinventing itself while remaining faithful to its own identity.

Also selling well is Vans, another must-have brand for this market, my customers appreciate for both apparel and sneakers for similar reasons. Adidas is also successful right now. Even if it had to face some dark years in the past, it is now back with great innovation and new and revamped classic “models” such as the NMD, Stan Smith and Superstar, just to name a few ones.

Also successful is Diadora that for the past two seasons focuses on great research, innovative materials and styles. Also New Balance is selling well because it is characterised by a clear image that remained constant through the years. All my bestselling brands show how we are not selling fashion-focused brands, but products with a clear personality.

Kosmos' staff-only room
Kosmos' staff-only room
Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
They buy according to a brand, but rather because they are loyal to a specific style or image. Those who buy Vans or Globe are doing it because they mostly like the skate world and image. Others who love the retro image will buy Diadora or Adidas Stan Smith. Each brand has its own specific personal style imprinted. I used to also run a store in Rovereto in the past and our imprint has always focused on high quality products with a personality. Selling commercial products is not part of our own personality.

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends?
We learn about new trends in social networks such as, for instance, Instagram and Twitter, but also through blogs, travels and visits to international trade shows. We often go to Italian and German shows but also to Paris, London, Amsterdam and Madrid. Plus, we always keep in touch with influencers and bloggers.

How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
We speak with them through our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Plus we also communicate with them through our e-commerce, a division we established five years ago that is now working very well. Out of our total sales 25% come from e-commerce. Eighty percent of what we sell through our website is sold outside of Italy and especially in Japan, Germany and the USA. E-commerce gives you a great visibility also outside of your neighborhood – especially helpful if you are not based in a big city such as Milan or Rome.

How do the collections you offer for next fall/winter look like? And what are the most important trends, in general?
Apart from retro trends, that all companies can easily draw from their archives, there are some new ideas some companies are concentrating on. For instance, Adidas is focusing on a hybrid sneaker model that mixes Boost sole type with Primeknit mesh uppers and other elements from other models. Such novelties are often appreciated by the clientele.

Speaking about apparel there is a return to comfy fits, even if not too tight ones. White is a key color. Basic sweatshirts, semi-technical knitwear pieces will be cool.

Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
We have just added Karhu, a Finnish historical sports brand founded in the early 1900s. Its name means bear in Finnish as its logo shows. The brand is now owned by the Arese family – Franco Arese was president of Asics Europe until 2013 - and offers running shoes, sportswear, skiing and other sports equipment. Also, this brand is strongly focused on quality, plus has an own history and identity, all key points that made me choose to include it in my store’s product selection.

How does your store differ from other stores?
We try to offer products with a personality but we never force customers into buying. We rather prefer our clients taking their decisions independently. We try to advise them at best – also because what we offer is already a selection – but they have to feel free when deciding what to buy. We keep trends in mind but we also help clients finding their own identity when buying a product.

What do you like about your customers?
I like that they are so different from each other. They can be 15-16 year old kids or 60-70 year-old fathers or guys. Despite, they belong to different age groups we can offer them products they all can appreciate. I am also 40-something and love to wear sneakers and sporty apparel every day. Similarly among my clients there may be people who like our timeless classics they know for a long time. Though a young girl might also like how some pieces look on her and almost look like a second skin – differently from older people looking for comfier pieces.

Women's area
Women's area

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
It is fundamental – ever since. I started my business in 1995, opening in Trento I also ran a store in Rovereto [Editor’s note: a town about 20 km from Trento, in the northwest part of Italy]. Now I operate only through this one opened in 2009. I loved Sportswear International Magazine since all those years because I could find great inspiration for brands’ selection, market information and – not less important - store decor ideas. In those years S.I. also published a visual reportage on my store in Rovereto. That store was based inside an old Liberty style home. Today my store in Trento, Via Manci is based inside an 1500 old beautiful palace. I know how important a store’s interiors continues to be.

Kosmos Store
Via Giannatonio Manci 75,
38122 Trento