MODICA Milano opened in Milan via Borgospesso 25 almost three years ago. Gianni Modica calls this little shop of 50 sqm “the essence of what we like”.
Gianni runs the store together with his son Jacopo, who has joined the father from day one after a couple of years abroad with Kiton in New York and Harrolds in Melbourne.
Gianni has been in the business for over 40 years, most of them working closely with Mr Gianco Boniello, owner of Bardelli Milano.
AA: Gianni, which advantages and disadvantages you find in working with other members of the family?
GM: well, I can only see advantages, and one above all is ‘trust’. Jacopo is extremely reliable and experienced thanks for his years with Harrolds and Kiton. Also, we have a special relationship with our clients, dealing with the two of us when they walk in is a strong asset for us.
AA: how many of your clients are Italian?
GM: 65% are locals and 35% are foreigners.
AA: Are your clients influenced by what they see in social media channels today? And what’s your opinion on that?
GM: Only the foreigners do pay attention to Instagram; most of my Italian clients have known me for some time and after more than 40 years of experience they just ask me “Gianni, what shall I buy/wear?”
AA: Do you make use of social media to promote your business and products? Can you see any benefits from it?
GM: we don’t really use any of them. We occasionally post something on Instagram (@gianni.modica) but it’s mainly some of our friends/clients when they come visit us. We have a small window at Hotel Manzoni via Santo Spirito which actually helps us a lot.
AA: Your website modicami.com has no ecommerce section. Is it something you are planning to do soon?
GM: We are not planning to do any online sales. We have thought about that, but finally decided not to go ahead. You need to create proper organization and logistics for this and our store is just too small. Also we focus on few manufacturers and buy enough to give them a proper representation in our store. Having few additional names just for an e-shop is not our philosophy.
AA: probably the most interesting question Gianni, for me at least. How are your clients responding to the different price levels (Attolini vs Lardini) ?
GM: I can confirm that in my store there are two types of clientele. 20% of them just look and buy Attolini and Rota; they may complain for the price points but they finally just go for the best. And then 80% of my clients look at the price points more carefully.
AA: and taste-wise? Is the “slim fit” a thing now for your clients?
GM: it is, slim fits are currently perceived as more updated. But I believe that fashion and trends are “like a clock” (see the slim fits during the 70’s and the very generous silhouettes during the late 80’s and 90’s).
AA: you work with few (8) established suppliers. Have you experienced a change in their approach lately? Is their service getting better than before?
GM: we are very happy with our suppliers, I think just one of them experienced one problem with the quality of their products in more than 2 years that we’ve been here.
AA: can you name a manufacturer that you will never kick out of the store?
GM: surely Rota Pantaloni. They make the perfect pants for our clients (and we sell more than 200 pants per season, which is a lot!).
AA: and is there a manufacturer/ that you would like to add ?
GM: Honestly there is none. We are currently selling what we have chosen we wanted to offer to our clients.
AA: where do you see your biggest external competition? Other retailers in Milan, some ecommerce platforms or what?
GM: Like Mr Gianco (Boniello, owner of Bardelli) used to say: “every tree makes its own shadow”. Modica has no competitors, our store is an “old-fashioned one”, we still sell the culture of the product.
AA: where do you see your store in three years?
GM: We’re planning to enlarge the current store. We should take the floor upstairs and have an additional 200 sqm.
AA: what’s the biggest mistake you think you have made lately?
GM: you always make mistakes when you buy the collections. But again here another quote from Mr Gianco: “athough you have one full-size set left , don’t forget to look at the full ones you have sold”.
AA: what are you mostly proud of your business?
GM: surely to be able to work with my son; and after 40 years in the industry I have taken the decision to open my own business, in a moment where most menswear stores just close down.
AA: what does “shopping experience” mean for you?
GM: the store has been designed as a walk-in closet. I love that people can sit around the table and have a chat. Also the cash register is small and hidden in the back, it usually makes people uncomfortable and I prefer it to be not visible.
AA: a friend of mine is moving to Milan. Why should I advise him to shop at Modica’s?
GM: we offer the best Italian excellences, and that should be the best reason.
article by Alessandro Agazzi
photography by Eleonora Proietti
special thanks to Gianni and Jacopo Modica