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IN CONVERSATION WITH LUCA FALONI
THE ART OF DIRECT TO CONSUMER
This week we are joined by Luca Faloni of the eponymously titled, Luca Faloni, a timeless Italian direct to consumer menswear brand known for their linen and cashmere menswear. We talk about what the vital components are for setting up a clothing brand with both ecommerce and retail presence based in London with free worldwide shipping.
Please tell us about yourself and the brand
“Ever since being at university in Milan I began moving all around the world. I first went to America to continue my Studies and then London for my master’s degree which is where I remain today. It was 4-5 years ago when I launched the brand Luca Faloni. I came across many direct to consumer brands when I lived in the US and thought it would be great to do the same thing but with Italian manufacturing and craftsmanship. When I moved to London I realised I was always buying my clothes on my trips back to Italy. It was difficult to find clothes here that I wanted and at a price I was comfortable with. So, I eventually thought why not start a label that makes the same great products and has them available worldwide at a great price-point.”
What advice could you give to someone who is looking to launch an ecommerce business?
“Online is a great way to start a fashion company. It allows you to launch with just one item whereas if you open a store you need a full collection to fill the space. With online you can improve the product from feedback and add to it as you grow. There are less costs with online and you can offer worldwide shipping easily at a good price too. We not only ship to the customer for free but we offer returns and exchanges for free. The UK is an important market for us and we sell a lot of linen during the summer, but we are also popular across the world, so we’re able to serve different markets during each of their peak seasons.”
How did your London pop up store go?
“I believe opening stores when you’re an online brand works very well. You can use the early years to improve your product, get to know your customers and optimise your website. Once this is in place you can then move offline. The advantage of having stores is that your existing customer can better see the full collection and try sizes. You can also acquire people offline who then buy online later and visa versa. So, I’d say the two channels work well together but you can only do this with a product you are happy with. Now is a really good time for brands to do pop up stores because retail and the High Street is going through a bit of a crises. There are now websites such as AppearHere where you can find available pop up store locations at lower rents. Rent in a city such as London is an expense, yes, but you save on packaging, shipping and marketing costs. It’s good to open a pop up as an experiment to get feedback for your product and see if it works. I would work in ours on Saturdays to ask the customer questions on what we could do better etc.”
What are the positives of being a direct to consumer brand?
“First of all, you don’t have intermediaries, so at the same price-point as one who goes down the wholesale channel you can offer better value for money. Secondly, you are the one who sells the product to your customer, so you can explain all about how it is manufactured whereas with a department store you don’t really know who is selling your product and if they’re doing a good job of it.”
How do you generate traffic to your website?
“Most of our marketing budget goes to digital advertising which is mainly Instagram, Facebook and retargeting. We still do offline advertising and have been buying pages in a range of magazines lately, but we also think word of mouth is very important to us. For brands Instagram has become a major channel to show what their brand values and ethics are. People are now more interested in Instagram Stories, so brands need to create more engaging content in the form of videos which is of course very expensive and time consuming for a small company.”
Please tell us about your next clothing release
“We have one coming out in a week which is a turtleneck which is an extension of our Cashmere collection. It is very romantic as a design point of view. The next forthcoming item enters into the popular world of chunky knitwear. We had previously launched knitwear for the city which is medium weight, but this new chunkier version will keep you warm if you go to the mountain or a ski resort. We are also expanding on the silk collection which we launched back in June. You can expect all these new releases in October this year.”