Certainly the situation in Italy is difficult for entrepreneurs because of the complicated bureaucratic system, high taxation and fiscal pressure. For this everyone agrees that focusing on international expansion is indispensable.

Exporting to China, Russia and Korea are everyone’s mantras, better if through monobrand stores and local partners. Cristiano Musso, owner, Space 2000 commented: “In the last three years we changed our export ratio from 10% to 40% and hope to reach 50% soon, while also growing in Italy. All this was - and continues to be - possible by constantly focusing on offering value for money products and by bettering our service through faster replenishment and deliveries.”

A new consumer’s attitude
Of a similar opinion is Simone Ponziani, CEO, Artcrafts, who believes that consumers’ behaviour and attitudes have now become more rational and disenchanted: “Consumers buy according to rationality: they are more demanding and care more for the quality of their purchase.”  Of the same opinion is Carlo Gallo, country manager, Pepe Jeans Italy: “Consumers have grown very sensitive to the price-quality ratio. They rather buy less popular brands but better quality ones, made with better fabrics and finishings and great fits.”

Today, not only are brands’ offers very wide, but also more channels are at hand for both purchasing and being informed. Julien Aledo, country manager, G-star Italy adds: “Today consumers can buy on-line, but may request delivery in store so that they can try their purchase directly in store if it’s not the right size or to their liking.”

Shop where you want
Moreover – also because of the booming of e-commerce and internet - brands and stores have to take into consideration they have to act globally and transversally – both in geographical terms and according to market segments. “In menswear the most advanced and experimental customers are Asian ones – especially Japanese and Korean,” comments Antonio Cristaudo, marketing Manager Pitti Immagine Uomo. “US male consumers are more conservative, while Eastern European ones are still focused on branded fashion products. Moreover, in addition to e-commerce, many can shop in outlets or shopping malls. For this reason, a store based in a city centre has to offer the most innovative and outstanding products. In fact, basic ones can be bought in outlets or via e-commerce. Contrarily, boutiques will carry mainly very special items. For these reasons, despite the crisis, there are many Italian stores that are registering a growth. And let’s not forget that Italy’s department stores have changed so much in the last ten years and have now become a new entrepreneurial reality.”

Less is more in store managing
Every single retailer has now learnt to behave as a true entrepreneur. Carlo Gallo, country manager Italy, Pepe Jeans explained: “Every retailer is very careful and cannot afford to make mistakes. For this they buy less and compare last years sales results.” Of the same opinion is FGF’s owner Enzo Fusco: “We have narrowed our scope and are now concentrating only on clients who truly pay. For this we focus on less clients but more healthy ones.” Also collections are now offering less, but the products we are offering have a clearer message. We have narrowed our offer by about 15-20%. Today we have smaller collections that convey a more direct message to the retailer and to the consumer. By following this path we are noticing that our sales figures are slowly returning to our pre-crisis results,” continues Fusco.

Gas jeans have also narrowed the number of doors they are working for: “We are working with slightly less doors and increased franchising deals,” comments president Claudio Grotto. “We also increased our prices by 10% and devoted greater attention to fits and silhouettes, better quality in manufacturing, plus two deliveries per season and an extra very-rock inspired extra capsule collection.”

Of a similar opinion is Julied Aledo, country manager, G-Star: “Since less is more seems to be the current philosophy for Italian retailers, they are keeping less brands in order to create a stronger brand communication and identity. Ten years ago it was all about location, but now the retailer also has to consider the importance of product, staff, consumer trends and social media influence. This is also why we are approaching this market by operating through both flagship stores only selling G-star, and Q-Stores that offer 60% G-Star and 40% other brands.”

Since stores place their orders with greater attention, companies sign special agreements with companies that guarantee the deal. Pepe Jeans is offering the possibility to sign special partnerships that guarantee retailers better margins.