Like great set design in the theater and artful window display for retail stores, staging luxury homes engages the target audience’s attention and expedites sales. In business, effectively setting the stage with extraordinary packaging facilitates an emotional connection with the brand and puts clients and customers in a buying mood.
In this blog series we focus on two CONTEMPORARY Italian brands with distinctive personalities: Caruso (Men’s Clothing) and Moschino (Women’s Clothing & Accessories). Each brand exemplifies the vital role that STAGING (including outstanding costume design) plays in marketing luxury goods and services. Here, in Part 1, we set the stage by sharing a personal epiphany that helped catapult us to market leadership in our own field, a moment when we understood that indeed, "the world's a stage" (Wm. Shakespeare).
Our love for luxury brand strategy truly began when we launched our commercial real estate firm. Our niche was high-end retail property sales, leasing and development. Part of our job was enticing the European luxury brands to open stores in Beverly Hills and adjacent areas.
Prior to one of our trips to Italy, early in our career, Alexandra noticed a very small article in Vogue magazine about an up and coming Italian designer. We decided to investigate. When we were in Milan we asked the cab driver to take us to Giorgio Armani and he took us to his apartment building; then he realized we meant his first, very small, basement retail store.
While Alexandra was perusing the women’s section, I (Ron here) obliged the salesman in the men’s section who (after almost twisting my arm) insisted that I actually try on an outfit comprised of a sports coat (tweed), dress shirt (checked) and tie (striped). I thought this guy was out of his mind.
I was stunned that it actually looked great! This new contemporary brand provided me with an avenue of self-expression within our niche and a way to set myself apart from the other 800 Los Angeles commercial real estate agents, men (only 5 were women then) who all wore conservative 3-piece suits and wing tipped shoes at the time. It helped me to "play the part" of the emerging expert in my field of high-end retail better than any of my would-be competitors.
This brand fit my risk-taking, innovative personality perfectly and forged a relationship of tremendous appreciation for Italian men’s fashion design. Replacing my entire wardrobe, I became an early adopter of Armani without any clue that this global brand would reach stratospheric heights.
I must admit as Giorgio Armani became ubiquitous (and copy cats flooded the market) and trends changed, I lost interest in the concept that “clothes can make a man”, Italian or otherwise. That is, until I discovered Caruso on our last trip to Milan. The spectacular "staging" of the windows and the store itself drew me in the door like a magnet (More in Part 2). Not since that experience at Armani has a clothing brand resonated so strongly with my sense of creativity and innovation. It made me realize again, that my love of the Italian sense of design and lifestyle has had a profound impact on my life over the years.
Take a moment to watch this very clever video, featuring one of Italy's most beloved film superstars, Giancarlo Giannini. It captures the essence of my amazing experience in Caruso's flagship store in Milan. Then, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series.