Can the same address host an e-commerce platform and a blog while offering and telling stories about products that go beyond fashion, are timeless and precious despite of the constantly changing trends? Antonio Civita, with Stefano Zaccaria and Giuseppe Bistoni, co-founders of the newborn website explain why. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

Can you describe how the website is structured and how it is working?

Archivio consists of two main sections, which reflect our idea of combining storytelling and shopping. One section hosts the store where one can find and buy various fashion items: both menswear and womenswear, accessories, fragrances and jewelry, as well as pieces of art and interior design. For each item on offer we sell we explain how that piece was created and what story is behind it.

Another section is our blog called “Archivista”, which covers many different topics: fashion, design, gastronomy, music, culture, beauty, sport and travelling. In the articles we tell the latest news, as well as stories from the past, which we believe are still relevant and influence our present and future.

This structure helps us to create a unique shopping experience of buying from a designer’s archive for our visitors and customers, which they cannot find anywhere else. People get uniquely designed pieces and, at the same time, learn about Italian design and art, which makes shopping also a self-enrichment and an exciting experience.

Landing page of
Landing page of

How did the website originate?
We have noticed that the pace of the industry has increased so much lately, to the point that there is almost no division between seasons anymore. Today, unfortunately, the fashion system is ruled by fashion conglomerates and mostly aimed at gaining profit by making people buy more and more in attempt to keep up with the latest trends. In such a fast running system people don't have time to stop and think why this or that item is “trendy”, how and who set the success of some specific pieces or styles...So we started thinking how we could slow down this system by making people reconsider their view of fashion. The idea of Archivio was born as an attempt to create a place where people can buy items that go beyond fashion, which are timeless, have a story to tell and are precious regardless of constantly changing trends.

When did you launch it and what was the initial reaction?
We have launched the project in May 2014 and the initial reaction has exceeded our expectations, because in such a short time we have managed to build up quite a big community. More and more people are becoming curious about our concept and constantly join us to discover and test how we work. For this so many are signing up to get our newsletter every Thursday. And I don’t refer to customers only, but also to brands, boutiques, designers and galleries that show always more interest in our concept.

To whom is it addressed?
We address to people from all over the world who are interested in Italian fashion, design, art and culture. Unfortunately our website is only published in Italian by now, though we are planning to also appear with a second language – English – very soon.

How many members does the site currently have and how many are you looking to have in the long run?
Our community counts for more than 3 thousand people mostly from Italy and the US even if this number is growing exponentially. We don't have a definite benchmark of how many members we want to attract in a certain period. Our success is not only measured by numbers. Our aim is to attract people from all over the world and shop from our platform. But before expanding we want to be able and provide a really flawless service. As a consequence, our members will increase proportionally.

In the long term we are thinking about exporting our concept by creating localized versions of Archivio in different countries. For example, is focused on discovering and reviving masterpieces of Italian design, but it is evident that there are lots of precious objects hidden in the archives of English, German or French designers. So, for example, the can be launched in the UK, in Germany, in France and so on, there are no limits in this direction.

What have been the biggest challenges of running the site thus far? And the greatest joys?
The biggest challenge is the communication between our merchandising team and our partners. Consumer’s expectations in luxury sector are very high nowadays and it’s important for us to provide them with the best experience and service possible. So we are working hard every day to keep the online information about our stock updated, ship orders as fast as we can, and reply immediately to all the questions we get through real time chat, by e-mail or by phone (yes, customers can also place order by phone!). Sometimes it is hard, especially with a niche product, because some artisans are not confident with the technical and digital parts of the process. But we’re learning together as we go. And that’s the best part because there are amazing opportunities out there.

And speaking about the joy… I think the greatest joy is the experience and knowledge we are getting through our collaborations. In the process of creating our collections we work very closely with some designers and artisans, visit their workshops and follow the whole process of product creation. And in the course of this work we hear a lot of amazing and unique stories, which we can share with our clients.

Women's product range in the Archiviostore webshop
Women's product range in the Archiviostore webshop

What special services are you offering right now through it?
For each customer we offer a "white glove service”. We provide fast and free shipping and a growing selection of beautiful items. The fashion market today is oversaturated, and the competition among online fashion retailers has increased substantially lately, so the success of an e-commerce startup depends on offering an exclusive, niche product and providing an exclusive and flawless service.

We also pay a great attention to packaging since it is a substantial part in shopping experience. Every item is shipped to the customer in a black anonymous box with only a small Archivio print on it, so you get no clue what can be hidden inside. But as soon as you open it, you find the desirable item wrapped exclusively by a designer or gallery, which created this piece for you.

For our partners we offer our expertise in art direction and storytelling to help them present their product in the most beneficial way. Because today success depends not only on creating a beautiful product, but also on the way you introduce it to a customer. We are already operating a couple of our partners’ e-commerce projects and planning to grow.

What new services or columns are you planning to add in the near or long-term run?
We are developing the experience for our members in many different fields: fashion, jewelry, arts and design, food and wine. And the image of Archivio we want to create is an emporium of wonders, where you go to find something extraordinary and unique. People who buy beautiful clothes also want to live beautiful lives and to be surrounded by beautiful objects, so that the number of areas we can develop and the services we can add in future is endless. We want Archivio store to become the first destination where these people will go to look for their dream pieces and we want our Archivista blog to inspire their conversations during their aperitivos and dinners.

We are definitely planning to develop the English version of the website in order to target people all over the world and to establish our secure global shipping system. At the moment we are shipping to most European countries but in future it is vitally important to be able to ship to our customers all over the world, so currently we are working on technical aspects of global shipping.

Are fashion, streetwear or sportswear playing any important role in your website?
Of course, fashion is a cornerstone of our website, but Archivio is not driven by something which is considered to be “trendy” at the moment. Trends are artificially created now every week to generate a non-stop demand. Instead of following these trends, Archivio is promoting its own independent vision of fashion, where the preciousness of a product depends on its intrinsic value, not on the label attached to it. And this intrinsic value is built up from a story behind a product and from an effort a creator has put into it.

How do you stay in touch with your members? How important is the social network aspect for this website?
At the moment our main goal is not only to build up awareness about Archivio, but also to convey the right message to the customers explaining what our concept is about. Thus social media is a very important and useful tool for us to promote the website and to keep in touch with our visitors and members.

With the help of social networks we are also building up a community of our members and we call these people “archivistas” so as to compliment and emphasize their amazing taste. Members of Archivio community are those people who never blindly follow trends, but prefer to create their own unique independent style.

What section, service or part of the website do you personally like most?
Although there are a lot of sections in Archivio, we don't want our website to be seen simply as a sum of many elements. We want to create an ecosystem, where all the parts are coherently and seamlessly linked to each other. So, I would say that I like each section and each service of our website, because I like the concept of Archivio as a whole.