On 6 October 2017, the Italian high-end menswear brand Isaia celebrated its 60th anniversary with its top made-to-measure customers in Hong Kong.
For the occasion, Isaia launched its Fall Winter 2017 new collection through a trunk show from 5 to 7 October 2017, and invited its VIP mtm customers to the Michelin 3-star restaurant 8 e ½ Bombana for a journey into the Italian Dolce Vita.
During the dinner, Isaia’s aficionados had the chance to share their stories, how they got to know the brand, the reason why they preferred it over others, and why it is seen as unique and rich in personality.
Retail in Asia had the chance to meet and interview Stefano Sartor, Isaia’s Retail Director, who flew directly from Italy to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the brand with his guests.
During the interview, we tried to understand how such a traditional business, like mtm menswear, has coped with digital transformation and the fast-pace of the instant society, in which consumers’ needs continuously evolve.
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RiA: Isaia is synonym of highly-customized products. From suits to Corallino stickers available for iphone at Apple Store. From tradition to innovation, how digital transformation has changed such a traditional business?
Stefano: Our approach to the customers, it is still part of the DNA of the brand. We accomodate the customer, we drink a glass of Italian wine together, we talk, and then we start a journey.
From choosing the best fabric to define any single detail of the cloth. Digital transformation has changed our business internally.
We developed an app to speed up the exchange of information between the store, where the tailor specialist envisions the suit together with the customer, and our artisans back in Italy that realize it. This app is currently for internal use only, and mainly used for the production process.
RiA: What is the profile of Isaia’s customer in Asia today? And how is Isaia meeting their evolving needs?
Stefano: Isaia is appreciated by its customers mostly for Made-To-Measure and BeSpoke clothing. Therefore, currently we have been serving customers who are between 30 and 60 years old. For the ready-to-wear collections, instead, we also have sportswear and denim, which are highly appreciated among younger crowds.
RiA: For tonight event, Isaia has thought of a unique experience for its loyal customers and friends. Are we moving towards a more lifestyle interaction with customers which does not necessarily happen in a store?
Stefano: Our aim is to get closer to the customers. Isaia is still a family business, and we want our customers to be part of it. In Italy, we mainly work through events. We choose event-types which reflect the brand. Golf centres and Yacht clubs are definitely our favourite along with charity events.
RiA: Since your business seems to require a more intimate interaction with your customers, how do you see the role of the physical store in this new digital era?
Stefano: Brick-and-mortar will never die. The store will still be there. Made-to-measure will always need the face-to-face interaction between the brand and the customer. Technology is definitely changing our business, but experience like touching the fabrics cannot be replaced.
The future is omnichannel, a combination of physical presence in a market and digital solutions.
At the end of the day, if you choose a mtm, it is because you want to stand out from the crowd, as a Isaia’s customer said during the dinner. Therefore, there is no way to craft something unique without having the person in mind.
Isaia wants to preserve its own identity, and this business model seems to be working for its expansion in Asia. Currently, Isaia is available in Hong Kong, China, Korea, Mongolia and Japan, and it is testing other markets through trunk shows.
A value that is rooted in the company’s DNA and in that of all the people who are a part of it, as some have been for generations, like Gianluca Isaia, grandchild of the founders, who is the face of the brand.
The brand’s success is due to its ability to reinterpret the concept of history and to combine tradition with innovation, the sartorial culture of needle and thread with cutting-edge technologies, while constantly innovating its style.