See How Italian Fashion Startup Lanieri is Dealing with COVID19: “Every Single Word Must Be Carefully Selected.”

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I caught up with Riccardo Schiavotto, co-founder of Italian fashion startup Lanieri, to explore the impact of the coronavirus on his business and community.

About Lanieri

Based in Italy, Lanieri makes custom men’s suits, blazers, slacks, shirts and more. Uniquely, the company is backed by Italian fabric mill Reda. Their suits feature fabrics from Reda and other legendary Italian wool mills including ​​Loro Piana, ​Vitale Barberis Canonico​, and Tallia di Delfino.

I first got to know Riccardo in 2015, and had the chance to review one of Lanieri’s custom suits. (Full disclosure: Lanieria provided the suit for free.)

At the time, I wrote of the suit that,

Lanieri also shines with subtle details. My grey suit arrived with a black and white checkerboard waistband and a gentlemen’s seam on the rear of the trouser. The double-button fasteners on the trouser waistband help them stay up and aligned.

Lanieri also maintains a series of Ateliers across Europe – local showrooms where customers can get measured for a suit, see and feel fabrics and get to know the brand. I had a chance to visit and review the Lanieri Atelier experience in Paris.

The impact of the coronavirus on Lanieri’s Italy-based business

Riccardo told me that the ultimate impact to his business “will strongly depend on how long the lockdown lasts.”

Here in Italy, we are about to reach the infection peak, we hope that soon the number of cases will start to rapidly decline. If so, the lockdown will probably last another 3 weeks, keeping the whole crisis within two months. This should not affect much consumers behaviour, and I expect that we will be able to get back to pre-Covid19 revenues in 3 or 4 months.

He observed that the impact will also depend on how the authorities handle the situation going forward. A big part of Lanieri’s business is weddings, so the extent to which people feel comfortable getting out and gathering — and when authorities permit those gatherings to take place — will affect his business.

A season of lost revenue?

“If the lockdown lasts overall more than two months, we are afraid most of our customers will simply postpone altogether the purchase of new clothing for this season, partly to save some money, and partly because we will be half-way the spring/summer season and they will simply wait for the autumn/winter season to buy new clothing,” Riccardo said.

In this scenario, he worries that it would take more than 6 months to get to pre-Covid19 revenue figures.

COVID-19’s impact on supply chains

As for Lanieri’s supply chain: as of the end of March, their suppliers are under lockdown as well so all deliveries are halted.

Riccardo is expecting they will re-start manufacturing after Easter, for a total offline time of about 3 weeks.

“To be honest, it’s not a big issue as our customer would put to little use their orders,” he said.  “They most likely don’t use them while confined at home.”

Connecting with customers

Lanieri’s business is inevitably taking a hit.  Riccardo noted that, “our products are used specifically for activities that are at the moment forbidden: office work and events.”

Since Lanieri’s business revolves around made-to-order and made-to-measure, they don’t carry inventory that can be heavily discounted to promote sales.

In the meantime, Riccardo said that, “we are trying to keep our customer base engaged to our brand through social media and dedicated newsletters, but even communicating in these dire time has proven to be challenging.”

He added that, “choosing the correct tone of voice of our communication amid the incessant stream of bad news requires that every single word we use is carefully selected.”

I’ve enjoyed the updates that Lanieri has sent out via email and their blog, including how to sanitize a suit and what to wear when working from home.

Support small and independent businesses like Lanieri

Businesses like Lanieri need support.

If you would like to support Lanieri specifically, first time customers can take $100 their first purchase using code MODERNFELLOWS.

For other suggestions for others to support, discover small businesses who are responding to COVID19 with optimism, get inspired with new Work from Home outfits made from technical fabrics; order glasses to try on at home from these alternatives to Warby Parker; and get to know more than 60 innovative fashion brands for men who could use your support.


About Jake

Jake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age.  Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.

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