While the future post-crisis is still uncertain, the fashion industry has been hard at work trying to come up with innovative solutions that will bring back customers into shops safely. After all, brick and mortar retail seems to be the sector that has been affected by the crisis the most.
Although Vogue launched Global Conversations last week and had Nordstrom’s Pete Nordstrom, Tory Burch’s Pierre-Yves Roussel and La Rinascente’s Vittorio Radice discuss with Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti about how physical retail can move forward once shops start to re-open, NOWFASHION talked to Martino Boselli, Elena Mirò's brand director.
The Italian businessman, who counts a past working at Safilo and Amazon Fashion, joined the Miroglio Group in 2017, as he believed “it would have been a wonderful opportunity to operate in an area of the industry that wasn’t the world of regular fashion.”
The curvy sector has definitely evolved since Elena Mirò (one of the brands under captained by Boselli under Miroglio’s wing) first burst into the fashion scene thirty years ago. While size inclusivity and the use of curvy models have only most recently been accepted by the industry, the Italian brand has always welcomed women of all sizes through a series of advertising campaigns which opposed to the cold, non-inclusive fashion trends of the time.
And, while the whole industry is being affected by the effects of the virus, Boselli thinks the curvy sector is bound to be affected by the crisis slightly more, as the “sale ceremony that takes place during a curvy purchase is in fact a bit different from a regular product sale ceremony. There is much more interaction between customers and sales assistants, so from this point of view there is one more obstacle since today we are all constrained by social distancing.”
Thus, this is why Boselli not only has a series of alterations in store which will not only change the retail cycle but will also revolutionize the way we interact with each other when shopping.
First of all, he plans to change the layout of the stores. “Spaces will be separated in a way that won’t scare the customer away from interacting with clothing and there will also be fewer samples of the same style available in store,” he explains. “We will divide the store into three spaces, and won’t have customers try on clothing from the racks in the stores but rather have sales assistants go into a warehouse and pick up sanitized versions of the styles the customers will want to buy. In case the customer won’t proceed with the purchase, the garment will be returned to the warehouse, sanitized by a machine with a high temperature of steam and bagged individually.”
This new method will ensure that customers won’t have to go on an endless hunt for a product and will also try on a product that has been sanitized. This method will, of course, change the way and the pace of shopping, thus, for this reason, Boselli also plans to give the customer the chance of booking their own personal slot via phone appointment.
Establishing a personal relationship with the client seems to be the key factor in ensuring that sales go to fruition. Undeniably, as personal stylists and shoppers have previously demonstrated, getting to know a customer intimately is what makes sure that the client will come back and shop again.
This is why Boselli is rightly making sure that all of his store managers are trained to consult with clients, turning them into the brand’s very own personal shoppers. Personal shoppers will be available for video conference calls with the customers, where they’ll be able to give the client advice on what to buy based on what these women have in their wardrobes. They will then make an edit of pieces chosen in collaboration with the client and send them over to the client's house to try on. Once the client has decided on what to buy, they will send back the items they’re not interested in purchasing.
“I think once this crisis is over, the way we do things in the industry won’t change much,” states Boselli. “What will change, is the way of perceiving products. In fashion, we buy for impulse, for emotion, because we imagine ourselves with that garment. After the crisis, we will understand what is the true value of that garment, especially in terms of usability. Thus this is why it is so important for us to give clients the possibility of letting our personal shoppers enter their wardrobes because this service gives value to the product we are selling and makes people understand that the product isn’t just something they can wear a few times and throw away, but it's something they can keep on the long run, something timeless,” he concludes.