MILAN — Not far from Milan’s designer-dominated Via Monte Napoleone is a street where average Italians shop.
There’s not a Gucci or a Prada to be found on Corso Buenos Aires. It’s a 3/4-mile stretch of road crammed with bookstores, sporting goods and department stores and apparel specialty shops. On Fridays and Saturdays, shoppers flock to the street to hunt for fashion at sharp prices.
The moderate-priced apparel market in Italy is diversified and split between traditional family-run stores, department stores and other clothing chains. Research analysts at Coin Group reported that these traditional stores account for 50 percent of the Italian clothing market.
Key players in the widely diversified segment include Coin Group, with more than a 2 percent market share, Benetton with a 2.3 percent share and department store Rinascente at 0.9 percent.
The rest of the medium-priced market is made up of chain stores including Promod, Motivi, Orsay and Celio. These stores offer medium-priced clothes and accessories for men and women and share the market with small traditional shops. All of these retailers face competition from Spanish chain Zara following the opening of three stores in Italy in 2002.
A representative from Coin Group said since its target customer is a woman aged 30 to 45, competition from more fashionable chains like Zara was lessened.
"We can say that the main Coin competitors are the small, traditional shops," the representative said. "The Spanish chain Zara operates with a younger customer product. Therefore, in this product area, there is slight overlapping but it is very modest."
A spokesman for Benetton said, "We are a mass market brand, but we don’t compete on price but on quality. Competition is tough in every world market and yes, for sure, Zara is our competitor in the European market. But we are in 120 countries, so there are a lot of competitors."
The race to gain more market share is becoming increasingly important for Zara. The corporate communications department for Inditex, which owns Zara, said there are six stores set to open in Italy in 2003. The first store in Italy opened last year, a 32,290-square-foot store on Corso Vittorio Emanuele."Our customers everywhere are very fashion orientated — they come to our store looking for fashion," said a spokesman for Inditex.
Through the third quarter, Inditex, fueled by Zara, saw net income balloon 31 percent to $276.8 million, as reported. Group sales in the period rose 25.8 percent to $2.77 billion.
Rapid store expansion represents much of this growth. Zara, with more than 500 doors in more than 30 countries, inaugurated 58 stores in 2001 and another 49 in 2002. Overall, Inditex is expected to open about 280 stores this year. The group, which operates five branded concepts apart from Zara, counts more than 1,300 stores in 41 countries.
Fashion-conscious Italians are taking to the quick trend turnaround Zara provides.
Katarina Nardino, 24, said she shopped in Corso Buenos Aires less since Zara opened its doors.
"I’m with my boyfriend’s mother, because she wanted to come to Corso Buenos Aires," Nardino said. "I don’t really like coming here anymore — it’s too overcrowded.
"Today I bought some pants for $21.54 in Motivi. It’s difficult to find what I want here. I don’t make enough money to shop in designer shops and in cheaper shops the clothes…look cheap. Promod isn’t as fashionable as Zara. I mainly buy clothes from Zara now."
Others look for trends in smaller traditional shops. Nestled on a side street off Corso Buenos Aires, small boutique Dàdò benefits from shopper traffic. Owner Grazia Inverizzi said her clients were habitual shoppers and usually compared prices at other stores before purchasing.
"Shoppers like diversity," Inverizzi said. "They are searching for trendy clothes they cannot find in Benetton."
Inverizzi said a printed cotton miniskirt priced at $43 was a top seller.
Situated on the next block, Benetton’s spring-summer collection featured a viscose skirt for $63.55. Cheaper items were cotton pullovers with laced V-necks at $26.93.
In Promod, simple black suits made of polyester and cotton were priced under $107.10 and shirts made of polyester and elastan were priced at $18.20.
The Benetton spokesman said the firm has forecast a 5 percent decrease in worldwide turnover in 2002.Benetton’s net profit for the six months ended June 30 rose 10.6 percent to $58.5 million, as reported. First-half revenue fell 4 percent to $982.5 million from $1.02 billion the year before. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates.
"Customers are getting more and more sophisticated and you have to seduce them as they are not faithful. This is why we invested $807.83 million in the last three-and-a-half years into new shops, to give more of a good, quality product at the right price."
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye