"We are all somehow crazy here," says Fabrizio Efrati, owner of the streetwear store I Love Tokyo in Rome, while underlining his team's passion for their work and for supporting clients with ideas, suggestions, and help whenever they have doubts while purchasing. "We want them to feel at ease and cool when shopping here," he continues and emphasizes how brands still play an important role in the customer's buying decision.
What are the current bestsellers of your store and why?
Asics is our bestselling brand. I have been selling it for 25 years and I am highly-fidelized with it as - I am also part of this brand’s retailers family & friends circle. Also, Diadora is successful. It is an iconic Made in Italy brand always launching new great ideas. For apparel, I am now focused on Carhartt, Stüssy and other brands distributed by the Slam Jam group. They are always a step ahead than others as they always offer the best brands for their most demanding customers.
Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
The hype is the only reason. It looks like we are back in the ’80s when I looked at my father’s customers (as I learned this job from him) they were always looking for specific brands because appearance was – and still remains – most important.
Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends?
Sincerely, I don’t inform myself....I feed myself with all trends since when I was a kid being born and raised by my father in his shop - that has now become mine. For me, it was a constant search or running after the latest trend. Incredible. Ever since every time I had holidays I made very long trips, always finding something interesting and trendy I could sell to my clients. Nostalgically I remember when I wanted to sell a Levi’s jeans jacket lined with wool in our store, but my father was against that. Those jackets were sold out before sales started. I was sad I did not manage to buy any of them for me, but I was happy I had made my firm choice already at the early age of 15 and chose something different from what my “guru” – my father – liked. It was then I understood this work was made for me.
How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
Right now very important. In the ’90s until the mid-2000s it was enough showing something odd or particular – I even put a reptile house containing shoes and a small scale scene from a World War 2 with vintage military apparel - for selling totally different products. But now with the advent of social networks like Facebook and Instagram we step right in the middle of our clients’ intimate life thanks to smartphones, tablets and computers and other crazy gadgets that work like a customer’s office. My father needed two shop assistants for a two-floor store. Today I have a shop manager, two part time people who also work as managers for three night spots in Rome, plus one webmaster, two photographers and maybe I forgot about someone else...
How do the collections you offer for next fall/winter look like? And what are the most important trends, in general?
Everything is back like it was in the ‘80s and ‘90s with patches, handmade elements in bold colors or re-labeled with all historic sports brands as done, for instance, by emerging designers like as Gosha Rubchinskiy.
Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
Suikeban is a new men’s and women’s brand to keep an eye on.
How does your store differ from other stores?
We are all somehow crazy...starting with me. We all come from the nightlife world, we follow and create trends. If a client shows us some doubt we can change that piece for them at the moment, or if we think about it we can call a DJ and make him play some hits in our shop window for the whole afternoon and, according to the music he plays, we recall groups of people – most often foreigners as they immediately understand our initiatives and start singing. We may also offer them something to drink because we always find some beer brands sponsoring us.
What do you like about your customers?
Sincerity and perseverance as we are with them and we are happy when we see that we share the same tastes.
How important are the interior, the atmosphere, and the whole package?
A shop’s interior is the mirror of what you are and of what you want them to see of you. Our store hosts two vintage leather sofas that make anyone feel at home. This way one can sell in a cool and cozy way. Our store’s interiors are all made by us with fir-wood. We like do-it-yourself furniture and decors. For this our open-minded culture makes this place more welcoming. Especially our changing room is a 1.20-meter x 1.20-meter space. When a client is trying some piece on he would never leave as he can feel quiet and at ease.
I Love Tokyo
Via dei Giubbonari 72