LONDON — Geraldina Bassani Antivari’s label was the designer’s answer to the challenges brewing in the industry.
“There’s no service in the industry, it’s very inhuman. They don’t cater to real people, they cater to models and to people who want to be part of the fashion world. I know there’s a whole fun side to that, but real people in their day-to-day lives, want staples,” said Bassani Antivari, who also works as the creative director of the label Mr & Mrs Italy, known for its fur-lined parkas.
“For us, it really started by noticing that there are plenty of women who really know what they want, but they can’t find it. Selection is always very small, styles are often discontinued and it’s not all about quality — brands are going down with the quality and up with the prices. Everything is just moving too fast and we wanted to stop for a second and ask what we really want to offer.”
Four years ago, Bassani Antivari set out to change all that with the launch of Geraldina, which she describes as timeless products that spotlight the “best you can find in Italy,” in terms of both print and fabric.
She took a slow approach, rejecting fashion’s ongoing demand for newness and trend-led collections — the brand’s motto is “Abandon Fashion, Discover Geraldina” — and gradually built up a roster of high net-worth clients in search of tailor-made, unique pieces. She expanded primarily through word-of-mouth and without any wholesale partners.
Now the brand’s concept is coming into its own, with a well-established customer base of global travelers and a growing retail network, including permanent locations in St. Moritz and South Kensington, with a new pop-up space in the luxury Sardinian resort of Porto Cervo set for later this year.
Luxury resort locations are key for the label, providing access to its jet-setting customer base.
“Resort places are so international and when people are traveling they are on the lookout for something different. Other than being local, they want to find something special,” added the designer. “Having a base in winter and summer resorts means that those people who come and go will return to find you again and again. “
Bassani Antivari said that she also chose to set up shop in the British capital because it’s one of the only European cities that attracts so many international travelers throughout the year. In London the shop is located at 287 Brompton Road, near Brompton Cross.
E-commerce is also in the works and will launch later this month with a small selection of the lower-priced, fun, printed items that are likely to make for quick purchases. In the future, the brand also wants to expand its digital reach and gather customers’ data and purchase history in order to make the shopping experience even smoother.
Venturing into wholesale is not on the road map for the label despite its steady growth. Bassani Antivari said she is staying focused on servicing her customer directly through trunk shows and small retail locations. She added that her aim is to emphasize “the human touch” of the brand. She said she would only consider one-off retail partnerships with small boutiques that have the same intimate knowledge of their customer base as a way of entering into untapped markets such as Russia, China or South Korea.
She will present the label’s latest offer with a client-facing event at the private members’ club Loulou’s in London. It focuses on classic silhouettes such as blazers, shirts and trousers that come in many variations for customers to find the perfect fit. They can also order a piece in another fabric, color or fit of their choosing. Their made-to-order item will be shipped in three weeks at no additional cost.
“The service really becomes like a modern tailor. It’s everyday couture,” added the designer.
Although the focus is on “everyday staples” Bassani Antivari doesn’t think that this should only translate to a neutral palette or plain pieces. Instead, she injects a healthy dose of fun and humor in her collections in the form of snake or banana-printed silk shirts and dresses, opulent metallic jacquard pieces, feather-trimmed blouses in a bold shades such as cobalt blue and sequin-embellished skirts.
“It’s really fun to pair more playful elements with these luxurious couture fabrics. When you apply those elements on [a silhouette] this easy, you are bringing the beauty of those fabrics to your everyday life,” she added. “Yes, sequins are trendy, but they have existed forever. If you like them, then you can wear them whenever you want. It is about designing pieces that actually last.”