RETAIL In 1894, Bulgari chose via Condotti and in 1951 Mario Buccellati landed on Fifth Avenue: two dissident voices that understood the importance of proprietary stores before everyone else. However, for some time now the opening of a flagship chain has become the new frontier of global jewellery. Let us take a closer look how.
The absence from shopping streets was, until about twenty years ago, a constant among Italian jewelers. With some exceptions of course. Things have timidly started changing since the digitization of the Western world, just like under the pressure of market globalization. Today the opening of flagship stores has become, in effect, part of the marketing strategies of many Italian jewellery companies.
“In 1996 we opened boutiques in Florence, Milan and Rome,” says Guido Damiani, “and since then the inaugurations have accompanied our growth from a family holding to an international brand, today we have almost seventy shops”. Meanwhile Bulgari has expanded to more than 250 stores, Pomellato accounts for 60 including several corner counters, while Dodo has opened 42 stores and Buccellati has 22 boutiques. In addition to historical names many more have been added because, as explained by Leonardo Cilia, the highest authority in the jewelery retail world, “producers who have adopted a brand strategy need shops that provide visibility and involve the customer in the brand experience. The other side of the experience is communication on the Internet: customers discover the jewels online and then go to the store, or vice versa.”
Among the new entries are big names such as Roberto Coin, which in the United States alone has eight boutiques, as many as Bulgari: “We opened our first boutique in Dubai only eight years ago,” he says, “because we were afraid of interfering with the work of our local distribution partners. We found the solution was to entrust them with single-brand franchising.” Away from the motherland, franchising is the natural solution: “We only directly manage our historic boutiques in Milan and Rome, while abroad we work with the support of local partners”, explains Francesco Amoroso, CEO of Pasquale Bruni.
A story within history is that of Nomination. Starting from scratch twenty years ago with the invention of the charm bracelet, today the Tuscan brand has five directly owned and eighty franchised stores, with a widespread distribution in Russia. “Abroad, we are almost always located in the shopping malls,” explains director Antonio Gensini.
“In Italy, as in London, Vienna and Salzburg, we have boutiques in the city centre. We are proud of the stores carrying our name, and to have them open without excessive hazards “. Sometimes single brand stores help bring the public closer to a jewel which is non-standard, as revealed by Claudia Piaserico, artistic director of Misis: “We create jewellery in gilded silver, far removed from the stereotype of products in silver with cubic zirconia and enamels. Our jewels are high standard accessories, which in some countries do not find suitable shop window space. So we are opening stores and shops-in-shops, where women can try the jewels with complete freedom, along with our scarves, t-shirts and bags.”
The stories are many and for each brand the store plays a different role: “Flagship stores, shops-in-shops and corners are the retail spaces in the Middle East and Asia, where jewellery can be bought in the mall, ” says Massimo Carraro who leads the giant Morellato, which introduced the concept of accessible luxury to the jewellery world.
“In countries like Italy, where we focus on multi-brand retail, we intend to re-create the Morellato world in every store. Since the jewellery world thrives on emotions, the challenge is to be able to communicate not only in single-brand boutiques, but also in jewellery dealer stores.”
For those looking for a tour through Italian shop windows, we recommend the ‘Quadrilatero della moda’, Milan’s fashion district. The very wealthy Via Montenapoleone, where Pomellato inaugurated a boutique in June, and now accompanies Bulgari, Damiani, Buccellati and Vhernier. Nearby Via della Spiga, chosen by Pasquale Bruni, Marco Bicego, Fulvio Maria Scavia and Chimento. Via San Pietro Orto, with Mimi, Chantecler and Casato. Also in the center of Milan, Leo Pizzo, Dodo, Morellato, Brosway and one of the many Rebecca stores. There are many wonderful boutiques also in Florence in Via Tornabuoni, in Rome, in Venice around San Marco, where Fope has just inaugurated its first boutique. Or on the small island of Capri, where Bulgari, Pomellato, Buccellati, Crivelli, Vhernier have their shop windows alongside native resident Chantecler.
Boasting at least 700 single-brand stores, Italian jewellers preside at every corner of luxury, from Paris to London, Moscow to Los Angeles, and from Tokyo to Shanghai.
Over some boutiques the signs speak for themselves, such as Giovanni Raspini, Antonini, Mattioli, Annamaria Cammilli, Giorgio Visconti, Zancan and Lebole.
It is an ever-changing world. Within this year further stores are expected; Morellato in Rome, Salvini in Milan and Florence, Damiani in Paris at Place Vendôme, Nomination in a large Italian city, Chimento in China. And new names continue to emerge, such as Misani, which in the next few days opens in Milan •
Text by Roberto Chilleri