MILAN — A mainstay of the Milan retail scene since 1990, Clan Upstairs, the multibrand store located in the city’s Brera district, has introduced a namesake private label collection aiming to offer high quality and accessible wardrobe staples.
“As we were confined at home during lockdown, I felt an urgency to express my creativity through products,” explained Fabio Bisogno, the company’s owner. “I wanted to translate the 30-year history of the store and our experience into products that could resonate with today’s customers.”
Although the pandemic has walloped the retail landscape in unprecedented ways, it has also reconfigured the way people shop, and offered businesses big and small a chance to rethink their strategies.
Bisogno lamented his frustration over the widespread policy of early discounts, both on- and off-line, ignited by department stores and e-commerce players.
“I wanted to safeguard my customers and to pull myself out of the rushed cycle of consumerism,” he said, mentioning also aggressive pricing policies by showrooms and outlets.
The private label offers a variety of basics for men and women to keep in their wardrobes, their minimalism nodding to modern Japanese and North European style with relaxed silhouettes that reference the ease of WFH attire.
From classic hoodies to baggy carrot pants, jeans to wool crewnecks and Baracuta jackets, each item is the fruit of partnerships with Italian manufacturers, including Haikure for denim and Salvatore Santoro for leather pieces. Items retail between 70 euros for T-shirts and 1,800 euros for luxury overcoats.
“The pandemic has pushed me to challenge myself and suggested we forge ties with Italian artisans and small companies that deserve to be spotlighted,” Bisogno explained.
Introduced for the spring 2020 collection, as soon as lockdown was lifted and the stores reopened, the Clan Upstairs private label is available at the main flagship located at 15 Via Pontaccio, as well as online.
In time for the fall 2020 drop, the company also opened the doors to a dedicated unit called Clan Upstairs Base located a stone’s throw from the flagship. The 1,614-square-foot space had housed the first Clan Upstairs store, opened in 1990 and dedicated to men’s wear.
“It’s kind of a return home,” Bisogno said. “This unit is intended as a space for experimentation, a creative lab,” he added, hinting at weekly or monthly reshuffles of the unit to better showcase the own label’s drops.
The collection also includes lifestyle items, such as smartphone covers crafted from recycled PET, reusable bottles and canvas tote bags splashed with the company’s logo. There is indeed a green bent in some of the clothing pieces, too, as in sweaters crafted from regenerated cashmere and organic cotton T-shirts.
Later this month, the retailer will launch a dedicated “green” section on its e-commerce, spotlighting sustainable pieces from the private label line, as well as from the other brands it carries.
The Base unit is also to carry a special selection of co-branded items that Clan Upstairs is developing with local and international companies. They include a small capsule with Haikure and two footwear styles created in partnership with hip shoe brand Giannico, the latter dropping in December.
In a pilot phase, Bisogno said he expects the private label collection will account for 30 percent of the company’s turnover in one year. Although he does not plan to set up a distribution network for the Italian market, he did not entirely rule out that the collection might be available abroad through local distributors.