“The secret is to continually reinvent one’s own style and to collaborate with brands in order to keep surprising our customers”. This is what Francesco Galli says while launching the ONE-OFF stores in Brescia, born from the union of two Italian multi-brand retail institutions, Folli Follie and G&B.
MiND had the pleasure to be at the ONE-OFF opening event in Brescia and interview Francesco Galli, CEO of Folli Follie and TheDoubleF -the brand’s new online portal- to learn more about the past, the present, and the future of Italian excellence.
Mantua, 1970. Can you tell us about yourself and your family’s background starting from the 70s?
My father came up with the idea, I hadn’t been born yet. The first shops were like jewels of accessories, so very small shops with careful selections. It was very innovative for that period because in the 1970s in Italy there were just 4 or 5 shops to refer to. The liveliness was different than other shops and also it had a really unique product.
"The key was that there were very few shops, a great desire to buy and a lot of energy."
From left Giuseppe Galli, Gianni Peroni and Francesco Galli at the ONE-OFF opening in Brescia.
My father and my mother had completely different characteristics; my mother was the one who bought, and my father, Giuseppe, did the accounts. They complemented each other. Today, even though my father has stopped, he still works with us! From that point, there was a bit of an evolution: the first shop in Mantova, then Brescia, then Verona, then Riccione, then Bologna. The second cycle was to redo all the shops and make them all bigger. Today we have all the same locations as well as Torino, or two stores in a city, or the stores that were on average 100 square meters, today they have become 800-1000 square meters.
We are still a family even if it’s big. We like this DNA a lot. It’s a dimension that allows us to be what we are. Of course, we have grown over the years. Let’s say the one in Brescia is the newest project. We had the same type of approach for Bologna. They were two bits of luck, in the sense that I forced my father’s generation to communicate with competitors. I think it’s something completely contemporary. It’s a stimulus: it forces you to do your best.
The idea of this collaboration came from two families that found themselves talking about business for their relationships with brands, for common situations. There is no point in competing. We had to redo the shops in Brescia and so did they, so we decided to work together. This could lead to making other stores together in the future.
Moreover, sometimes being a boss is difficult but also easy because nobody contradicts you. When you have partners, you’re forced to be better, it’s an equal comparison. So I find these collaborations very interesting, and in our opinion the two projects in Brescia are what help generate interest in the retail market.
"Communicating with your competitors is a stimulus: it forces you to do your best."
Why are your shops going to be constantly transformed?
We believe that nowadays, customers get bored quickly. I think this happens to everyone… today we travel; we are always more informed. Of course, the idea is to surprise. If someone knows that every time they come into this shop they have no idea what to expect, maybe there will be more desire to come. In particular, these shops will be transformed every six months. The top-floor of the women’s ONE-OFF pop-up changes every month. For the rest of the shop, apart from the ceiling and the floor, everything will change. It will all be transformed in the span of 3-5 days. Both with Studio Dimore and Baciocchi Associati we decided to redesign the store every 6 months.
ONE-OFF Donna, Brescia.
We have been working with Baciocchi for ten years, whereas Dimore is a quite new collaboration. The most normal choice is to choose only one studio. We have chosen two for the same city and, intentionally, wanted to put them in competition. We gave them an identical briefing and they worked without seeing the other’s project. They came up with two different stores but with a common thread.
In our opinion Baciocchi’s style is more masculine, more architectural, more of a project, right for men’s shops. Dimore is wonderfully good at creativity. Their diversity is the key. Today, the male customer, compared to the female clientele, behaves in a different way. Men have different habits and approaches compared to women. The ONE-OFF Donna is more feminine, a little more creative, as is the woman. We thought that these environments were right for the Brescian gentlemen or boys and for the Brescian ladies or girls.
To continue to expand and stay relevant, brands must be where the people are. These days, that is clearly online. Considering Folli Follie’s recent shift to online with TheDoubleF, do you think this will have an effect on the physical stores?
We consider our e-commerce as a support to our stores. Although e-commerce websites generally help customers find the best price among all the products in the world, not investing in e-commerce would be like rejecting evolution. If you don’t do it, others will do it, so it’s better to be good at that too. Moreover, even if we have a newborn e-commerce, we will try to focus on the markets abroad.
Mantua, Verona, Bologna, Riccione. Why did you choose Brescia as the ultimate destination for your ONE-OFF stores?
Brescia is very centered around fashion. It is a city that loves to live with joy. Brescia is the third city in Italy that consumes the most champagne, and this is significant for the habits people have. It means that they go out for dinner, they go to parties, they go to events and they go shopping. However, today our aim is to move from the province to the largest cities both in Italy and in Europe.
Have you already chosen which brands to collaborate with?
We will be collaborating with big names working specifically for ONE-OFF. Each pop-up will have its own launch event and will be present in the store for three weeks, while a week will be needed to set up the space, in view of the next project.
What advice would you give customers entering the new stores?
"Have fun and let yourself be surprised"
Folli Follie’s goal is to constantly surprise their customers by offering an unprecedented shopping experience, thanks to a reinvented physical store. Following Francesco Galli’s precious advice, we suggest you immerse yourselves in the new concept of the ONE-OFF boutiques for an exclusive and unique experience in the heart of Brescia.