The Menswear Style Podcast

Luca Faloni, Founder of Luca Faloni

May 19, 2022 Menswear Style Episode 178
The Menswear Style Podcast
Luca Faloni, Founder of Luca Faloni
Show Notes Transcript

Luca Faloni is a vertically integrated menswear brand established online in 2014. They deliver superior craftsmanship and create a true 'Made in Italy' proposition available directly to clients worldwide. The brand promise is to source the finest materials from the most prestigious Italian producers and disregard seasonal collections in favour of product longevity. For each design, they partner with the most skilled Italian artisans, who have been honouring their craft for generations.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Luca Faloni, Founder of Luca Faloni about the background of this direct-to-consumer menswear brand. They're currently about to launch 3 new stores in Miami, Munich and Milan. Our host Peter Brooker and Luca talk about the benefits of launching a brand online, why now is the right time to open physical stores, Italian design, and the affects of cost increases on business.

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PB:

Hello and welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today I am talking to founder of Luca Filoni, Luca Filoni and Luke Bologna is an Italian luxury menswear label who are opening three stores over the course of the summer in Munich, Miami and Milan. Currently they have locations in London, Stockholm and New York and are fast becoming recognised as the go to for consumers looking for classic styles from prestigious Italian producers. Linen from the oldest meals carry edgy cashmere brush cotton from grandi and Ruby Nelly and full grain leather from Santa karate. And it was great fun catching up with Luke who's been on the show before but to give you a little reminder of the man the brand here in his own words, is Luca Filoni.

Unknown:

Yes. So, Luca Fulani is a direct to consumer menswear brand. We focus on Made in Italy and find materials. And basically we skip the wholesale channels so we can offer better value for money to our customers. And we can have a direct relationship so we can serve them better.

PB:

You're opening three more stores. We mentioned the one in Marleybone. Just now you got three more on the girl, Munich, Milan and Miami. We've got those right. Yeah, yeah. So free at the same time.

Unknown:

We before COVID, we started launching stores. We started online as a brand, about seven years ago, then one of our clients was a real estate agent. And he convinced me to try to do a pop up, I was against retail back in the days I just wanted to do online. But I was impressed by the results of the first door. So we gradually decided of the year that we will open stores. And so we open London, New York, second one in London. And then we had plans to open a few more. So we opened Stockholm as well. But then COVID came. So for two years, of course, we had to take a break. And now we are back to business to opening new stores. Munich, Milan, in Miami, as you said,

PB:

sounds like the model that perhaps other people that are burgeoning into the industry should also adopt right, develop your market online keep overheads low. And then if there is an appetite for people to you know, experience a close, and you know, like a community that wants to get involved with the brand, then the bricks and mortar come after?

Unknown:

Yes. So first of all, when you start online, you don't have to be big, you can start with a single product or a few products. When you start with a store you need to fill up the store with with a collection. So over the years, we we started online, we got feedback. And when we add a little bit of a collection, we were ready to start the first store. And as we were growing the collection, we were also learning from the stores on how to run it and you know, what are the pros and cons of retail? And so now we are a bit more ready to start continuous launch of new stores.

PB:

Right? And are you living in London? Is this your home?

Unknown:

I live between London and Milan mostly. Okay, family in Milan, business in Milan and friends and business in London. I started in London when I was younger, and I kind of have my social circles in this part of the world.

PB:

Do you have any like pressures, like being Italian, having a story in Milan? Like that kind of pressure of everything being the high peak of Italian craftsmanship Does that ever weigh on your shoulders at all?

Unknown:

I like to say I mean my profile. My caption on Instagram says making Italy great again, of course, is a bit of a joke but but not so much like I feel like it's important to be proud in in your heritage and do what you can to push it forward and improve it when you can where you can basically

PB:

where did you get that from and was your old man well dressed was something in your DNA that you thought I have to kind of bring this to the surface to drill down on that a little bit where your inspirations come from.

Unknown:

I grew up into rain, which is a medium sized city, northwest Italy. And you know, when you grew up in Italy, you go to school and we don't have uniforms. And so from an early age, you see how people are dressed and everyone dresses differently and you start developing your own taste. And Turin was a classic town like it was the first capital of Italy and people have a classic taste and and so in the neighbourhoods, you have all the stores that are specialised in you know that there's the shirt makers, there is the the stores, the shoe maker and and so you you kind of develop a taste and you kind of develop a knowledge of what What is is good or bad in terms of both design or craft

PB:

think the first time I really clicked on to the difference between Italian menswear and say what you might find in London. And I had this with a friend, we were both added to be in Italy at the time, and we went out for lunch. And there's a lot of just every day kind of peacocking. And I don't know if it's, it's probably peacocking to us, like London is looking at it. But to Italians, it's just Wednesday, you know, we go out, we make sure we look good. And we might just be on the way to get a coffee, but we're going to make sure that we look as good as possible. Whereas I think there's more. No casualization in this neck of the woods where we are here, would you would you say that's true? Yeah.

Unknown:

And usually people like to make an effort. It's not a very rational effort is it comes with subconscious, maybe like you want to make a good impression and you want you care about how you look, I guess the style of our brand is I wouldn't, I wouldn't say it's, there is a lot of peacocking. In our designs, it's very subtle elegance. And it's always at the edge between classic and form, casual and formal. And the colours are very always the past the classic Italian pastel shades. It's all relatively subtle elegance. So which which is what I like.

PB:

And do you ever hand in the designs, what's your kind of nine to five like now around the business and the brand,

Unknown:

the structure of my week is the same week after week. I don't I like routine, because it's I know what to expect and I'm more productive. So for instance, Mondays, I do more strategy in the morning than finance in the afternoon. Tuesdays brand Wednesdays product design in the morning and production in the afternoon. Thursday is more like a follow ups what's going on. And Friday is all the things that I didn't have time to finish the rest of the week. And the weekend is for a bit of relax. It's not been like that, the beginning. So just recently I started that

PB:

and how you're handling putting all of the ops together for the launches of all these stores and maybe touch upon why the cities in particular important to you.

Unknown:

So why the cities, each of them for a different reason. And all of them were in the plan from the beginning. Of course, I wanted to open a store in Milan as soon as possible. But then COVID came, it took a while to find the stores. The store that we liked, but of course may not is very important for the brand and is close to our artisans. Munich Munich is because Germany is our third market online. The first one is the US. The second one is the UK. Germany is our third market online is of course is a very big ecommerce market. And we wanted to ever seek the story in the main city for us which is Munich to better serve those customers that we have in the area. And also because Munich is a destination for business travelling for all the Germans that are our customers. Miami is again a different reason it's because it's 365 days Leyland market. We're very strong in linen, we have very strong Leyland and cashmere. Those are the big area where we excel. But of course the Leyland season in Europe is just two or three months long for the summer. Why Miami is always summer. So we wanted to have a presence there, just showing our summer collection. Also it's a window to South America. And is because South Americans always come to Miami to do shopping. And that is generally like the second city in the United States after New York for tourists, tourists their free time they like to shop and they are in the mood to discover something new. So it's natural that if you want to have stores, you should have it in some destination of tourism, like New York. For us. It's very important not only because there are several minions people that are our potential target market, but also because you have a lot of traffic there from tourists and business travellers. Going back to your questions on difficulties and how to handle operations. I like to say Luckily, I have a very good team that that is doing this for me. And we have very good architects that have helped us come up with some nice designs for the new stores.

PB:

That's really cool. And what about the very first guy you mentioned about the guy who suggested maybe you should do a pop up and get into bricks and mortar is he still around as he's scouting locations?

Unknown:

I'm actually funny enough I'm meeting him tomorrow morning said there is a nice store in Chelsea I have to see. And we always wanted to eventually have a store in Chelsea. So now in London, we have one in Melbourne and one in Piccadilly because they do more for tourists and for the Mayfair professionals and we'll be nice eventually one day to have Charles's So tomorrow I'm I'm having a stroll with him.

PB:

That's really sweet. And actually I guess it makes sense man, you got the kingsroad you got the history. You know nice affluent area? How old are you? Look, if you don't mind me asking 3737 All right, okay. I mean, so is there a plan that you can see on the horizon where you might be more hands off, perhaps your seller on, you might just have this as the Empire running in the background,

Unknown:

I'm a bit of a control freak. So I don't know if that will work. Look, eventually, we need to make space for the younger generation, whichever form that is, but he will not be for the next for the near future. These are very interesting times. I mean, like, it's always difficult to run a business or to grow a business. But these times are quite particular. You know, it started with, you know, Brexit and COVID. Now the war supply chain problems, every day, I go to work, and I think what is the next crazy things that happens today, and I don't think there's going to be a normal day i, we are prepared for the worst, and we expect something not ordinarily happening.

PB:

I mean, you mentioned Brexit did that kind of thrown a spanner in the works. I mean, the stuff I presume, is, is made in Italy.

Unknown:

Everything is made in Italy, we have a warehouse in Italy, that ships to Europe, in Italy, and we are the worst warehouse in UK, the ships to UK and to us, and some regions in the rest of the world. We are in the process of moving us back to Italy, the US orders back to Italy. Brexit was, of course, the trade with the UK was an annoyance. I wish it didn't happen. But it is what it is. And it's the same problem for everyone in the industry likely did you have to put

PB:

any of like, I mean, everything's going up in price, we talk about cost of living going up, have you had to kind of suffer those and swallow those hits,

Unknown:

there is inflation, especially on the raw material side, the manufacturing of the products. The Labour has not increased yet as much. But of course, to give you an example, cashmere yarn has increased 20% from last year. Wow, lean in 15%. Now, luckily, we've been growing as well, a lot. So we can negotiate a little bit. And perhaps we didn't get the full price increase. But it's undeniable, right? This is happening and the cost of everything. And also, we are making stores now right? All the constructions materials have gone up a lot from when we started this project. And we haven't increased prices much we just a few percentage points here and there because we just have to like President increase so much. We're trying to take some of the basically decrease our margin, and we don't want to pass on too much to the customers of this price increases. But we are monitoring the situation.

PB:

What's driving up the cost of cashmere, is it delivery,

Unknown:

cash may come from Inner Mongolia, right all the the Kashmir goats are in that region of the world. Now, every second month, there is a lockdown in China for COVID. And so shapings our shipping is delayed. Factories close. So all sorts of problems in Division plus the year before the year of COVID. Maybe brands didn't sell much. And then all of them they have to rebuy at the same time. So supply is constrained and demand is high. The world is leading this moment of mismatch of supply and demand on all industries. And the economies are not doing great. But everyone is scared of lack of supply. So everyone wants to buy more like in the same way during the early days of COVID people were piling up on toilet paper. And then there was no there was cost of toilet paper in the grocery stores. But that was just because people were behaving. You know.

PB:

I'm always intrigued when I interviewed founders and I spoke to you before so I've kind of got a taste of of where you are. You said that you're very hands on with your ups and stuff like that. I'm just wondering what like the most enjoyable part of the process for you? Is it seeing the finished product? Is it seeing maybe some luminaries or people of note wearing it? What was the moment where you go, Oh, that's really nice.

Unknown:

You know, like, yeah, we have some famous clients that were our products. But I like instead a lot when I'm in when I meet random people wearing my products and I recognise it and they you know, they talk great about the brand. So that's part is always always very satisfying. I like it when we are able to produce a product that I'm, you know, that I'm really happy, happy and proud of. I didn't study fashion I come from another side of the world. We manage the company in a very mathematical way as well. Like, we have targets we have strategies to achieve the targets and so it's always fascinating when we achieve the target of the week of the month of the year. or maybe that's the geeky side of me.

PB:

Well, it makes sense because you started as the online business, you know, before you kind of wanted to delve anywhere else. So having the numbers in place knowing the audience and knowing I guess, a certain amount of tech is always going to be beneficial for a business like yours. Are you talking to tech? Are you on the social media platforms at all like the handles? Are you the man behind Luca for learning?

Unknown:

And I have a team that manages the social media, I'm actually I don't like to even look, I follow my account. But the brand account, I like to look at it. I don't like to look at the account or the look and look at the website. I don't even like to go in my stores because I'm very, I have an eye spot very quickly if something is not working, or it doesn't look 100% Right. So I always kind of get angry when

PB:

Robert De Niro casino complaining about the lack of muffins. Lack of blueberries in the muffins. Yeah.

Unknown:

I'm a bit like that when it comes to those things. So I rather stay behind the scenes and do the work.

PB:

So grew up in Italy. Here in London a fair bit so English Italian. Do you speak German?

Unknown:

I funnily enough, I in high school. I don't know why. But I started German rather than English. Then I learned English later on. But now I forgot all my German but at some point in time, I was fairly good at German.

PB:

Same same I think I did. I think I put five years into German doing that at GCSE school. I did a year of French and God knows that's gone. But there's a little there's bits of German hanging on but I just, I feel like if you really want to get ahead internationally and do like make a splash in this world, just having a couple of languages under your belt always comes in handy. And I guess for a brand like this, it's imperative.

Unknown:

Yes, yeah, for sure. And look, we are now an internalisation is one of the areas of growth of course and making the brand more local, you know, like in connection with the clients, localise the languages on the website, the customer service, which all increases the complexity of everything, but it's necessary to be to become a big brand is necessary Will you say? Yes, well,

PB:

Luca, great talking to you great catching up as always, I hope the meeting goes well tomorrow. be keen to see what happens in Chelsea. Thanks for tolerating this people can't see this on the podcast obviously but my headphones fell apart after about two minutes and I've been holding one of the earphones like I'm actually just on the telephone talking to you. So it looks anyway but it's been

Unknown:

I was enjoying your dog running in the background. Yeah, so

PB:

I mean, I shut the door but they always seem to manage to get him somehow and run around and chase the cat so there'll be mayhem here but Luca filoni.com the place to go and lastly, when do you think these doors will be opened? What's Do you have a deadline for those?

Unknown:

Yes, so I'm unique opens in two weeks. So end of May and Milan will be about 10 Days Later later. And Miami is a little bit more down the line because the summer there now is very hot so we will open in around September. Okay before our Basel so definitely before a buzzer is an exciting moment. These are the first doors that I don't see until almost the end. The other ones I was seeing them while they were getting bailed and and also Miami was the first store I signed the lease on Miami without actually seeing the store because in America during COVID We couldn't fly for a year and a half basically so I couldn't get there but I detailed video calls of the place and the surrounding so

PB:

powerful. Well I guess Miami well Milan also will just be a homecoming for you. Yeah,

Unknown:

one more reason to go back and but again, don't forget, I hate going to visit my own stores because I will always find things that are not in place. And it's difficult. I look at things from another point of view in the same way like a movie directors watches the movie and you know, it's not the same you understand where the lights are?

PB:

Well, Luke is saying this but I've been to the story Marlboro and there's a huge picture of him on the wall. So you know, he's being modest on the phone, but I'm only joking. There's no huge matter if you're in I got a hat last semester and I was looking for it just before jumping on the call, but uh, can't find it. But it's a great store and looking forward to seeing what else comes up in London so I can get around to seeing it. But in the meantime, Luca, thanks for jumping on. Enjoy the rest of the evening.

Unknown:

Thank you for having me.

PB:

You've been listening to the menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style.co.uk For more menswear content and email info at menswear style.co.uk If you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time