MILAN — When Italian retailer Stefania Mode — founded in Trapani, Sicily, in 1971 — this year decided to go through a re-branding exercise to expand its international appeal, it just played with its name, adding the S of Stefania to the word Mode. The result was Modes, the new name of Aldo Carpinteri’s fashion company, which has sales of more than 100 million euros.
“It also happened that ‘modes’ are in the music world different types of scales, which differentiate because of at least one altered note,” said Carpinteri. “I like this idea of personalization, which truly reflects our approach to retail — a very unique and distinctive one.”
The company’s personal attitude also defines its first Milan flagship, inaugurated on Thursday with an event featuring Gosha Rubchinskiy as the special guest. Spanning more than a 3,768-square-foot surface, the men and women’s store sells labels that range from Marni and Comme des Garçons to Marine Serre, Craig Green and Stefano Pilati’s Random Identities. The store is marked by a versatile, flexible concept, which was designed by architect Andrea Caputo to change and adapt to different occasions.
“We wanted a modular shop. Nothing is static here. Everything is designed to be easily moved to radically change the setup according to our needs,” said Carpinteri, referring, for example, to the glass and wood structures covering the walls which can be opened to create screens to divide the space, as well as the wheeled high-tech cabinets used to display the collections across the store, and the structured, yet lightweight walnut totems that house the accessories.
Innovation and artisanal tradition are combined in the store, where precious details, such as wood door handles curved by hand by Japanese artist Yasufumi Takahashi, are juxtaposed with post-industrial finishings.
“From colorful foams which are usually used to isolate and road work’s corrugated iron to the alveolar aluminum employed to cover trucks, we put materials which are usually considered merely functional into the spotlight,” said Caputo. “Usually it’s about hiding them in the best possible way. Here, they get an aesthetic value.”
With 12 large windows and facing Milan’s Piazza Risorgimento, the store is located outside one of the busiest streets of the city’s luxury shopping area.
“This is one of the most Milanese areas of Milan, very bourgeoisie,” said Carpinteri. “The choice to open here just outside the center is strategic since we find the Golden Triangle quite standardized. Conversely, we wanted to create something special, a unique destination, able to create a dialogue with the neighborhood and the people living and working here, or who just come frequently to the area.”
For this reason, Modes created in the Milan store a space which, along with housing a magazine section edited by Milanese firm Reading Room and a range of books selected by curator Bruno Ceschel, will host talks and readings focused on different topics, including fashion, art and photography.
“Seventy percent of our sales are currently finalized online but we strongly believe in a significant comeback of the brick-and-mortar experience,” said Carpinteri. “We talk to a community of people sharing the same passion and I think that these individuals really look for places like this to meet and exchange ideas.”
In keeping with this vision, Modes is inaugurating a 4,306-square-foot store in the ski resort Saint Moritz. Located next to the Kulm Hotel, it features a reinterpreted version of the concept designed by Caputo for the Milan store.
“We developed a three-year business plan and this includes the opening of more stores in key international locations,” said Carpinteri. Along with the shops in Milan and Saint Moritz, Modes operates the storied boutique in Trapani, as well as summer seasonal units in Portofino and Favignana, a tiny island off the northwest coast of Sicily. In addition, Modes operates through a concession agreement three Balenciaga flagships, located in the Italian high-end seaside resorts Porto Cervo, Portofino and Forte dei Marmi.