The “greenest mill in the blue world” is also one of the most entrepreneurial.
Candiani Denim took a leap into retail this spring with its first store, a three-floor, 3,200-square-foot store in the center of Milan. The new venture is a continuation of the 81-year-old Italian denim mill’s efforts for transparent storytelling and further elevates Candiani as a “denim brand” in the mindset of consumers.
Along with sharing Candiani’s history and an insider’s view of the denim-making process, the store is essentially a showcase of the mill’s top clients, as well as hard-to-find brands. The store sells products by Ace Rivington, Atelier & Repairs, Benzak, Blue of a Kind, Closed, Denham, Dondup and Matias. Soon, an adjacent space will house a workshop, an extra room for activations and a workspace for Candiani’s branding and retail team.
Here, owner Alberto Candiani shares the inspiration behind the store and what gives it its own unique flavor.
Rivet: I’m sure you’ve been in enough denim stores in your life to have had a clear vision of what your own would be like. What were some of the design elements that were must-haves for the Candiani Denim store?
Alberto Candiani: First of all, the store needed to have a solid identity in order to represent who Candiani is as a company but also as a premium denim brand. The colors, materials and furniture are all meant to be a visual representation of Candiani’s style, combining a heritage atmosphere with futuristic and visionary elements. The product has to be showcased in a simple way, but for each brand found in the space, we also incorporate a digital presentation next to its most representative item.
Rivet: How did you recreate the essence of the denim mill in the store?
AC: It’s a combination of elements, from the atmosphere itself to some educational features which are very interesting. The digital content we create helps to visualize the mill, as it explains what we do and shows the production process at Candiani. Most importantly, our denim selection is very representative of Candiani’s specialties and that gives a very unique flavor to the store itself.
Rivet: What do Italian consumers know about Candiani Denim?
AC: We understand that there are consumers that might not know anything about Candiani, so it’s our job to educate and provide a Denim 101 shopping experience. When a customer enters the store, we begin by explaining who we are, starting with the fact Candiani is a denim mill, based just outside Milan since 1938. We make sure our consumers know that Candiani is also a denim brand and not a jeans brand. We make it a point to share our story, which includes our textile heritage, our sustainable innovations and also the origin of denim itself as an Italian invention, from Leonardo da Vinci’s “weaving inventions” to the original Blu di Genova fabric, which gave the name to our beloved blue jeans. Locals love it, but sadly many Italians don’t even know that denim fabric was actually born in Italy.
Rivet: How did you decide which brands to stock in the store?
AC: The brands found in the store are considered our top clients, identified by Candiani’s “Golden Rivet,” our highest quality seal and co-branding tool. They were selected because their values fall in line with ours: history, loyalty, collaborations, activations and sustainable innovations. The selection of items in the store is also very specific—most of what we sell is custom made for us. We offer a wide variety of bottoms and tops, but these items are all blended with care and purpose, keeping in mind their identity.
Rivet: Do you think you’ll venture into online retail one day?
AC: Of course we will, but not right away. We want to consolidate collaborations so in the future we can offer online-only products made exclusively for the Candiani store.