MILAN — Offering customization services has become a must for luxury fashion companies that aim to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced fashion market.
Founded in 1928 by Stefano Serapian, the artisanal accessories company controlled by Compagnie Financière Richemont since 2017 relocated its headquarters and showroom in 2018 to Milan’s Villa Mozart, an Art Deco building designed by architects Aldo Andreani and Piero Portaluppi.
“Bespoke is not really new to Serapian, as it’s been part of our DNA since the very beginning when Milanese bourgeois customers came to us asking for unique products that we then translated into our ready-to-wear collections,” explained Giovanni Nodari Serapian, the company’s bespoke manager and a member of the founding family’s third generation during an interview. For example, the “Secret” tote bag with a hidden internal pouch was developed in the Seventies following a client’s request and later became one of the brand’s signature styles.
The Bespoke Salotto installed at the center of the showroom space features a panel covering the fireplace that displays more than 1,000 different leather tiles from which Serapian’s clients can select among 505 combinations of colors and textures. Each tile hides a drawer containing samples because, Nodari Serapian said, “it’s fundamental for the client to actually touch and feel the material.” The handbag’s lining and metallic hardware can also be personalized for items retailing 35 percent more than similar ready-to-wear styles.
But that was not enough.
The artisanal brand’s two-pronged approach also encompasses what the company describes as a total bespoke service allowing clients to develop an idea or a sketch in tandem with the label’s atelier and design team and create one-of-a-kind designs. Nodari Serapian recalled a Middle Eastern client developing an alligator trunk for her jewelry collection and a British man requesting a rifle case, for example.
Both levels of personalization extend to customized versions of the signature Mosaico hand-braided motif invented by Serapian, with 27 different nuances to choose from.
“Clients can get floored by the number of options but in line with the Serapian family’s attitude our aim is to always provide the best advice,” said Nodari Serapian. “We’re also committed to deliver products that while catering to our clients’ desires can also be quintessentially ours.”
The manager said bespoke resonates particularly with Japanese and American clients and it’s increasingly appealing for young customers. Overall in addition to Italy, Japan, the U.S. and Russia are the most relevant markets for the brand.
Shining the spotlight on the company’s highly skilled craftsmanship, Serapian installed its Bespoke Atelier in the basement of Villa Mozart where five artisans, including Anna “Annetta” Gagliardi, Serapian’s most skilled craftswoman, deliver part of the production of the Mosaico motif.
“The customization service is growing and gaining traction and although it’s exactly the same we’ve had since the Forties, coming to Villa Mozart and unveiling a dedicated space here is enabling us to present the service’s modern and fresh take, without looking dusty,” mused Nodari Serapian.
The bespoke manager noted that the service can also be handled remotely with customers from all over the world but he has plans to extend the same “Salotto” concept to retail units globally. The company currently counts a flagship on Milan’s tony Via Spiga and one in Rome and it is gearing up for the opening a pop-up shop at Tokyo’s Ginza Six on Feb. 19.