It’s hard to know the full impact the Coronavirus will have on our economy, with more and more stores closing, and independent fashion brands doing their best to survive.
Meanwhile Italy has been on lockdown for almost two weeks, and fashion and lifestyle brands have had to adapt. I asked them to share their experience, so we can have an idea of what to expect, and it’s not all doom and gloom.
Arianna Casadei, global marketing and communications director for Casadei
We are all in this together. This situation is forcing us to change our daily routine as much as the way we are looking at business. We have to find new way to communicate with each other and I’m thankful for the digital tools we have at our disposal. We are trying to look up to the future with hope and commitment. It was an emotional moment when we had to close our stores in Italy and we are living everyday waiting for the update on the current situation. As an outlet everyone has their own, but we are fighting it the only way we know how: sharing digital aperitivo with friends, with beauty hang out on Skype and shoes of course… all of this keeps us together.
PINKO‘s creative director, Caterina Negra
Pinko, in the spirit of the positivity, optimism and confidence that characterises the brand, has experimented with new forms of activity and interaction with both our customers and our teams in Italy and around the world, so that despite the distance, no one feels isolated and the optimism stays alive.
Already since the lockdown in China, where we have a fantastic team and more than 60 stores, we have encouraged training activities, creative development of solutions and the optimisation of sales methods on various digital channels. We have been in constant contact with our customers, safeguarding the one-to-one relationship between the customer and sales assistant.
Since the reopening of the stores on March 11, the year on year sales for that date have increased. In this moment of global crisis, despite the social distancing, the Pinko Family remains united and makes its voice heard, remaining close to customers in Italy and all over the world.
Umberto de Marco, CEO of Yatay
One thing I have learnt since the Coronavirus outbreak, is that it’s clear how people are getting used to living with the help of digital tools, to connect with other people and to buy things… During this time, my team and I have been working closer than when we were in the same office! Yatay has always been committed to sustainability: one thing we have always strongly believed in is the power of digital stores, which are more environmentally conscious than physical ones. Our green message needs to be spread around now more than ever.
It’s times like these that bring out everyone’s true colours. Italy has proven to be extremely hard working but most importantly, determined to do what it takes to unite and get through this together. Our factory and our retail partners, particularly the smaller ones who are actually most affected, have gone out of their way to keep agreements in place despite the scary and uncertain waters we are currently navigating.
These are also great times for reflection, we realise what’s truly important and understand that when it comes to material goods, perhaps less is more. We are focusing on developing products that will stand the test of time both for style and quality, and aim to underpromise and over deliver.
We, at Manebi, started to monitor the situation closely quite early, and learned and adapted fast to an unprecedented context. Since the very first signs in Italy, we have adopted a work from home policy and soon after we closed our stores to favour social distancing even before it was a government provision. We have always ensured a strict hygiene regime in all our locations including the warehouse, but considering the current situation, we have increased the hygiene protocol and are continuing to follow all government guidelines, ensuring extra care is taken.
We struggled in the beginning to decide what was best to do in such a challenging situation, where for unnecessary goods the balancing between acting and non-acting can be really tricky. Though a community is only a community if we come together and support one another. Manebi is also donating €10 for every online order to Italian hospitals and we are also sourcing 15,000 masks to donate them. And as a thank to our customers for standing by us during this time, we’re offering 10% off site wide. Lastly, in this unique situation, activities like ours – certainly not essential – can be subject to question – yet, we feel that doing everything to preserve the jobs, the morale and the future of our teammates, as well as the hundreds of employees of our partners, is both a priority and a duty and we are implementing all the possible savings to make sure the continuity of our company and the jobs of all our staff in the longer term are guaranteed.
Lena Evstafieva, Founder of Villa Lena
One of the things we can focus on at the moment is supporting our local community through raising awareness for some of the causes that matter most. At Villa Lena we are supporting with donations and a social media campaign to help raise funds desperately needed to supply intensive care beds and ventilators to hospitals across Italy, especially the main hospital in our beloved Florence.
The best thing that we can do right now in the hospitality industry is stay positive and look ahead to a bright future. At Villa Lena we are excited for what the future holds and will continue to plan some of the special projects that we have in the pipeline for 2020 and beyond. We are fortunate to have a social media presence with which we can still interact with our guests – one of the initiatives we are rolling out at the moment is regular book recommendations from our past artists in residence to inspire and brighten people’s day, even if just a little. We are also excited to try out a series of simple, virtual workshops led by our community of artists giving people ideas on how to get creative in the confines of their own homes.
Marco Cilia, owner and developer of Chapter Roma
As we all in Italy continue to navigate the uncertainty around our everyday lives, the need for community to support each other becomes even more important. Hotels are obviously facing the brunt of being closed and tourism, especially in Italy, is really suffering. It is so sad as for so many of us, travel is a necessary and rewarding part of our lives, but at times like this, community is more important than ever and we know the brotherhood and sisterhood of Chapter Roma will live on. As a team we are staying busy whilst being at home working on the hotel’s next chapter… We have new concepts launching this year collaborating with some of the industry’s finest talent in F&B plus some new design details being created.. watch this space.