Bob Tavakoli, owner of Gabucci in Stockholm, has been the first person we have met for this project and that was not a coincidence. He deserves a lot of respect for what he has done for over 20 years.
He opened his first store in 1994 and since the beginning he introduced the best menswear brands he could find to satisfy the demand of his sophisticated clients.
We’ve sat down with him and Johan Himmelstrand, working in store, on a beautiful sunny day at a café next to his current men’s store in Nybrogatan.
AA: “Bob, where is the ‘Gabucci’ name coming from?”
BT: Gabucci has no connection to me or my family name. A friend of mine had a store with this name and I asked if I could use it because I liked the sound of it, it’s very simple.
AA: “How many people do you currently employ?”
BT: 15 people, including the recently opened dedicated women’s store.
AA: “Have your clients changed approach when buying at Gabucci in the last few years? And in which direction?”
BT: They have! We used to sell many more suits, some clients were buying three suits in one go which happens less and less today. They are shifting their purchases towards a different way of wearing, yet staying sober and elegant. So they mainly prefer to buy separates (nice jackets and pants) still to wear with a nice shirt and tie or with some knitwear underneath. This does not mean that they’re spending less money, because the jacket/trousers combo is very often more expensive than a suit.
We just realize that it’s just more common (and overall accepted) to wear separates than suits when going to work, at least for the man usually wearing ready-to-wear.
AA: “Are you happy with the sales coming from your website gabucci.se and how powerful social media are for you guys?”
BT: We are happy with our online shop, however we always appreciate when clients notice one post that we upload on Instagram and stop at the store to try on the new arrivals.
AA: “You have worked with so many suppliers, mainly Italian. How do you see them in the last years when it comes to the overall quality level of their products and service? Has it got better/worse?”
BT: We are very happy to work with the most reliable partners of the industry, and yes they’re almost all Italian. We have no problem with them and with the strongest ones the service is only getting better, thanks for an always fastening customer service they provide. We are usually not adding new brands if we are not entirely convinced, and we feel that from the first appointment at a showroom, and you Ale can understand what we mean. And if we need a supplier for a specific category we always ask some of our friends (meaning existing suppliers, like Simone Finamore) for some honest recommendations.
AA: “Could you mention one or two names of brands that you will never kick out of the store?”
BT: No one! Even Cesare Attolini, if they won’t be delivering on time! (he laughs), Of course there are brands that are very important for Gabucci, like Attolini, Lardini, Slowear group and Massimo Alba.
AA: “Is there a brand/manufacturer that you would like to carry at Gabucci but at the moment is not there?”
BT: Not really. We have been and we are constantly approached by brands, but we are happy with what we have. We do not need to add Brioni or Kiton at Gabucci.
AA: “Where do you see your biggest competition Bob? Is it other retailers in town, other e-commerce platforms or what?”
BT: I can’t really talk about competition, we work with our favourite collections and we do exclusive selections. We are sorry to see that more and more stores are trying to copy what we have been doing for over 20 years. We have forever been pioneers in introducing relatively unknown brands (or new to Sweden at least). It usually takes a while for them to get established and profitable for us. But then when they get more commercial, more stores start carrying those brands (this happened with Boglioli, Slowear, Massimo Alba).
AA “Where do you see Gabucci in three years?”
BT: We don’t plan anything major, we just want to consolidate what we have and make it always better.
AA: “Can you tell the biggest mistake you think you made lately?”
BT: Oh, there is not one. Everyday we make mistakes, but we always learn from the mistakes we make!
AA: “And what are you most proud of?”
BT: Well whatever I did, I did it my way.
AA: “What does it mean shopping experience for you?”
BT: It means having a special relationship with our clients. Not long ago we were at LoroPiana showroom and we knew a client was looking for a special model from them. So we took a few pictures of different samples for him to choose from. The jacket was VERY expensive and we wanted to give our client few options before confirming. And this happens when you have a very good relationship with your client (and your supplier!)
AA: “A friend of mine is going to move to Stockholm for work. Why should I advise him to shop at your store?”
BT: for the staff working here! And of course for the brand mix we carry. And if he’s Italian he will feel at home.
article by Alessandro Agazzi
photography by Milad Abedi @milad_abedi