H&B continues to invest even during this difficult economic period, why?
The period is very complex and this undeniable crisis comes also from not understanding what was happening. Due to the crisis, many habits have changed irreversibly, especially in shopping. Now the younger generation have broader horizons and different interests, and this is also reflected in their purchases, which are more and more often concentrated in the shopping malls. These are not simple shopping centres, but new agora, meeting places where you can find everything, not necessarily only fashion and luxury brands, but also technology and premium ones. The numbers say that, only in Italy, every year they have 700 million visitors, a huge figure when compared to the 60 million visitors per year for the shopping outlet. To be there in these new realities was necessary, and to do so we had to invest. During 2012, in fact, Harmont & Blaine has already invested more than 10 million of euros in direct retail inside large shopping centres.
You have just opened a new flagship store in Milan. Are you planning other openings?
Milan is a reference point for the international fashion and a window on the world. It is essential to be present in the streets, in fact in mid-November we will open a 1000-square-meters showroom at Via Tortona 37. It is important to consolidate our presence in Italy, but the goal is to look beyond the borders.
And about the foreign markets, where are you turning your attention?
There is no area of the world that does not see us there. We are already present in the countries of the former Soviet Union and all the Middle Eastern countries. Within 24 months we will further strengthen our presence there. Currently, we are also very interested to Central and South America, where there is a very strong upper class. In particular, Panama, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.
Harmont & Blaine is an example of a successful business. What is your secret?
The serenity of being proactive, able to study and understand the market’s needs and comply with its requests. The fact that we have always kept our accounts in order allowed us to have the clearness of mind and confidence needed to invest. Consistency was also important. Even in the most difficult moments we have not given up, continuing to provide durable, high quality products with a good value for money. Finally, the secret is certainly to have a group of experienced designers, a team that I call ‘truffle dogs’, who have the ability to see new things before the others and anticipate trends.
Speaking of style, your winning collections feature a Mediterrenean lifestyle. What does this mean?
The Mediterranean way of life that is the envy of the world is synonymous with skill, good taste and tradition. It is a casual style, yet elegant in a natural way. For us, the value to be protected is freedom. The freedom and the possibility of using our clothes on different occasions, maintaining a unique style with unmistakable quality.
One of the selling point of the brand is its logo. Why did you choose the dachshund?
The story of this cute animal reflects the philosophy and values of the company. It is a dog with a dual personality: it seems just a pet, but in reality it is a hunting dog, which, because of its funny body shape, has to rely on instinct and intelligence to demonstrate all its skills.