Luciano Nardi, Head Of Buying at D’Aniello | Why Fashion Buying is Not Only About Fashion Shows?
Luciano Nardi is a Head Of Buying at D’Aniello Boutique.
We are looking for a timeless garment that can be worn from generation to generation. The items will start to be less and less represented by the logo; the volumes will not be so over and exaggerated. There will not be a return of a formal look, however, the trend will be that of being and no longer of appearing. - Luciano Nardi
How did you get into fashion? Please tell us a bit more about your career and its key moments?
Luciano: After graduating in Management of International Business, I moved from Naples to Milan to continue my studies at Bocconi University. The master's in marketing and communication (MIMEC) gave me the opportunity to have an internship at the Italian Chamber of Fashion Buyers. Through this experience, I understood fashion was not only a passion but I was sure it was “the magic world” I wanted to pursuit. Right after my first experience, I started working as a Fashion Buyer at Sugar for almost 1 year, then for Stefania Mode for almost 2 years.
I’m currently working as Head Of Buying at D’Aniello since 2017.
In your opinion, what is the future of fashion retail?
Luciano: Maybe I’m an atypical buyer, I totally believe and support the power and strength of fashion retail. The physical store allows the customers to try a different experience, to fall in love at first sight with a special item, or to change an idea when they touch and try on basic clothes.
As a buyer, do you rely on trends, intuition, critical objective analysis, or all of them when placing orders? This is a bit like a lottery, especially when you start working with the new brands, isn’t it?
Luciano: I always consider many aspects: trends, intuition, sell-through of brand/gender/category, most popular items, delivery windows, weather conditions, what local and global customers need and seek.
My role is similar to that one of a fashion designer. I have to consider the DNA of the brand, the customer satisfaction when buying commercial items but I always buy collections with my own reading key. Each detail makes the difference; I have to risk and to follow my sixth sense especially when I value a new brand.
What is your approach to predicting fashion trends?
Luciano: In my opinion, there will be the return of a style characterized by basic and clean products, with particular attention and consideration of quality. We are looking for a timeless garment that can be worn from generation to generation. The items will start to be less and less represented by the logo; the volumes will not be so over and exaggerated. There will not be a return of a formal look, however, the trend will be that of being and no longer of appearing.
Which skills helped you the most to become a successful buyer?
Luciano: I strongly support the mentality and skill of giving all your best and push as much as you can in your job. I also think that you never have to feel superior to others.
I have always listened to many different opinions, from younger guys with less experience, which are often influenced by current brands, to those who have been in the fashion business for decades.
The hanger to work and grow, in your private life and in your career, always leads to success although if, in my opinion, the buyer must have his own sensitivity while purchasing that you cannot learn.
Please, tell us a bit more about how you discover new brands?
Luciano: Researching for new brands is no longer through participation in fairs and events, in my opinion, it's extremely obsolete and only way of meeting people in the fashion industry. My research takes place through participation in national and international fashion fairs and fashion shows, in the main fashion stores, traveling abroad, meetings with emerging designers to discuss their new projects and attention to social media that became the most immediate source.
What do you think of the emerging brands existing on the market?
Luciano: There are many nice women’s wear brands and less menswear. There is more attention to the offer of a contemporary item that has a good price point with a fresh image. The principal problem is that a lot of these brands have a great sell-through in their first few seasons, after that, the performances get worse and they tend to offer a repetitive product and they extend the distribution to a huge number of retailers.
How do you evaluate if the brand is ready to work with a big retailer or not yet?
Luciano: There are four principal factors to consider: designer, product, communication, and distribution. I personally consider other aspects when I add a new brand such as delivery windows if there are any customs duties and payment methods.
At the same time, I have to risk it all by following my sixth sense.
Can you risk and order the first collection of the brand or do you prefer to observe the brand during a couple of seasons prior to working with it?
Luciano: I’m very careful while I do my research. I rather start a collaboration with a brand from their first season so that I can obtain the exclusivity in my territory and offer to my clients up-and-coming brands. The physical store image is super important, our loyal clients are always looking for new items.
What are the requirements for the new label that wants to enter your brand range for the next season?
The brands that we usually add, must be perfectly aligned with our brand mix, must offer a fresh and contemporary look. I care about also offering more commercials brands so that it guarantees a positive sell-through.
How has your occupation influenced your personal style?
Luciano: I’m sure more likely inclined to new brands, special and vintage items that I usually “steal” from my parents' wardrobe. I’m usually appreciated by those who are connoisseur and less by the people that don’t know. I don’t like wearing commercial items with big logos, I’m definitely not a streetwear lover nor follower of the new trends.
I’m more likely myself; I believe that the personal style is like a business card. I rather like someone who asks me “where did you get your coat, what brand is it?” instead of receiving a compliment of a t-shirt with a logo that a fashion victim is wearing.
What is the most challenging part about working as a buyer?
Luciano: Who’s not in the fashion field, thinks that my job isn’t a job. I would like to clarify to everyone that the buyer doesn’t only take part in fashion shows and the glam parties. My job is serious and very analytical.
While I’m buying, I don’t only consider my personal taste, above all, I consider what our local and global clients seek and I also take into consideration our sell-through analysis of every specific item. I actually struggle sometimes when buying brands that are required and that have specific rules of buying.
How is the COVID-19 influencing your profession? What transformations it will go through?
Luciano: I have already started the buying for the SS21, the majority of the buying is through the linesheets or video-calls. It's very easy buying some merchandising categories through linesheet, such as bags and small leather goods. There are other categories and brands that I rather buy in the showroom like Dior Homme, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann because it’s necessary to touch the product and see the fits of a garment to actually fall in love with the story of the whole collection.
What is the future of the fashion industry in the post-COVID-19 period?
Luciano: Yeah, that’s a good question! I hope that the terrible situation caused by COVID-19 can get better any time soon. Luckily we were still able to sell through our online shop danielloboutique.it and through Farfetch during the lockdown. Store margins are much more determined through the actual store sales. My only wish is that we won’t have another devastating wave of the virus that could again determine a new closing of our flagship stores.
What digital technologies are influencing the fashion industry the most?
Luciano: It’s extremely important the connection between online and physical retail, especially for those who have multiple stores that offer distinct mixed brands.
I believe that it is very effective to bring some digital systems in the store, it allows the costumers to view all your items and the price, sometimes our clients don’t like to ask for price.
What future do you predict for independent fashion brands? How should they build their communication to get noticed by a buyer?
Luciano: I don't think there is only a single communication strategy that leads to the success of a brand. In my opinion, every brand should aim and focus on a unique communication that knows how to reflect the product and intrigue buyers.
The brand should consider the four Ps of the marketing mix:
What transformations should the retailers go through in order to stay in business? Luciano: Brand deliveries are increasingly anticipated; it often happens that the customer goes to the store and does not find items that are enough interesting. That’s because the commercial items that the customer wishes to buy are immediately sold online as soon as they are delivered. In order to survive, retailers must absolutely reserve these items (for ex. Saint Laurent women's bags) keep it in the shop and not associate them with marketplaces. In order to gain a loyal customer, the store must always be well assorted otherwise the customer will never return. What advice would you like to give to those who are dreaming to become part of the fashion world, especially to those who are eager to become buyers? Luciano: I strongly recommend to always be yourself and push hard, to do your job well and especially do it with passion and dedication. You have to be willing to sacrifice and make sure to never get too involved by the futile people who live by appearance. That’s a strong advice! "There will always be someone who appreciates you, simply for who you are and not for how you must be."