The Slowear 18 flagship store on Milan's Via Solferino.

How can a physical store stay relevant and face the increasing competition from online retailers that offer engaging shopping sessions a click away from customers’ homes? Many would argue experience is the holy grail for brick-and-mortar to forge ahead.

Slowear took note.

The Venetian high-end fashion company, parent to pants-maker Incotex; Zanone knitwear; Glanshirt shirtmaker and Montedoro outerwear labels, unveiled a new store Thursday night expanding its retail footprint on Milan’s Via Solferino, where it already operates another unit nearby.

“We’re facing major changes in retail but for those who sensed the revolution in advance, this is a moment for new opportunities and we, as a company, have always proposed engaging and experiential formulas,” said Roberto Compagno, president and chief executive officer of Slowear.

Called Slowear 18 and conceived as an experiential shop, the three-storefront unit is part retail space, part mixology bar and café over a 1,076-square-foot area. In addition to a bar counter operating throughout the day, a case made of brass and decorated glass can be lowered over the shop’s central display to turn the unit’s environment into an after-hours cocktail bar decked in teal green.

The central displayer turned bar counter inside Slowear 18.

The central display turned bar counter inside Slowear 18.  Courtesy Photo.

“We wanted to highlight the relationship we have with our clients rooted in hospitality by blending two entertainment experiences: shopping and mixology,” Compagno said. Every day after 7 p.m. the store offers spirits and cocktails accompanied by appetizers and snacks. Focused on Italian drinks, the store serves Vka vodka from Tuscany, Silvio Carta and Oscar 697 vermouths and Giass gin made in Milan, for example.

Through a partnership with Italy’s premier sparkling wine firm Franciacorta, Slowear 18 also features a branded Franciacorta Bar that offers wine-tasting experiences.

In addition to its proprietary brands, Slowear 18 sells a selection of urban and activewear garments including outerwear by Arc’Teryx, mountain-ready footwear by Roa, and technical performance apparel by Isaora.

Compagno said he is committed to transforming the unit periodically by introducing pop-ups, exclusive capsule collections and shops-in-shop for non-proprietary brands. Slowear 18 will also allow the company to give more visibility to its women’s collections.

“It is going to be an evolving space, never looking alike,” Compagno contended.

The bar counter inside Slowear 18.

The bar counter inside Slowear 18.  Courtesy Photo.

The company operates 29 retail spaces globally, including units in London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. In 2018, it generated revenues of 50 million euros and expects a 10 percent uptick in 2019.

As reported, in 2018 the company, founded by Carlo Compagno in 1951, sold a minority interest to Nuo Capital, an investment vehicle backed by Hong Kong’s Pao Cheng family. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

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