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INTERVIEW “We must look to the past in order to define our future” – a Q&A with heritage Italian retailer, Fabi Shoes

Fabi Shoes: early experiences of trading in a pandemic
Fabi Shoes: early experiences of trading in a pandemic

We virtually met up with Jason Fagan, Marketing Manager at Kooomo and Alessio Berdini, eCommerce Manager of Fabi Shoes and international witness of ‘Made in Italy’, who has been creating footwear for men and women since 1956 to see what their experiences are so far in the pandemic.

 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly created a new reality to be reckoned with. Consisting of strict social distancing measures and compulsory store closures, this new era of safety has dealt a significant blow to many sectors.

 

However, whilst there is undeniably a tough journey ahead for many organisations, there is also a light at the end of tunnel for those willing to adapt. In times of uncertainty and economic struggle, we must look to the past in order to define the future and work together to combat our struggles.

 

Jason Fagan, Marketing Manager at Kooomo explains “This is the approach adopted by many of our Italian customers here at Kooomo. To gain insight into how COVID-19 was affecting our clients, we sat them to down to discuss how they are handling this emergency and what the future of their companies may look like. The collective consensus drawn from this appeared to be one of collaboration. Every employee, and virtually the entire ‘Made in Italy’ supply chain, seemed united by the same ambition – making people and business alike feel connected amidst this crisis, despite historic, cultural and geographical differences.”

 

This is definitely the case for Alessio Berdini, eCommerce Manager of Fabi Shoes and international witness of ‘Made in Italy’, who has been creating footwear for men and women since 1956.

 

He shares his experiences of the current pandemic and what Fabi Shoes is doing to help combat this crisis: “The current health crisis has hit us at a delicate time. Obviously, there is no great time for such dramatic events to occur. However, on a business level, it arrived just as we were presenting the new collection, both online and in-store. Suddenly, as our Italian partner stores were forced to close, we found ourselves unable to sell goods, with further uncertainty as to when the stores might re-open. The same happened with our shop in the Marche district. The plant is now closed, meaning production has stopped and the season is at risk of disappearing.”

 

He continues: “It is fair to say Fabi Shoes has not had an easy time during the pandemic, even on the eCommerce side”, continues Alessio Berdini. ““Ever since the crisis hit Italy, we have encountered numerous difficulties. The product we offer is not essential, but rather is linked to specific occasions, particularly celebrations and ceremony. The health emergency, followed by store closures and economic concerns, hindered us even further.”

 

Berdini says: “As a result, we clung to branding communications, discussing the origins and identity of the brand in an attempt to feel closer to customers. These empathic communications had exceptional results, helping us to keep the business on good numbers. I am also pleased to report that Fabi Shoes is doing everything it can to support its home territory during these turbulent times, converting a branch of the company to help produce medical masks for local bodies, hospitals, rescuers and civil protection."

 

Certainly, at this moment, there is no future certainty to rely on. The lesson that Fabi Shoes is teaching us is that in order to survive, one must look to the past – to the origins of retail and to the timeless value of “less is more”.

 

In line with this way of thinking, Fabi launched its new Flex Goodyear footwear line, combining its traditional craftsmanship with the Flex Goodyear patent. With this patent, Fabi has innovated the historical English processing technique, creating footwear with the idea of pro-longed re-use with timeless style and elegance.

 

Berdini concludes: “When the lockdown is over and the high-street reopens, I hope for a significant rebound for Fabi Shoes. During this time, we have focused on projects of recovery and reinvention, and aim to be ready for any scenario when all of this is over. We expect strong competition from many competitors, so is important that we stay flexible, creative and ready for the times ahead.”

 

Fagan adds: “Fabi Shoes is undoubtedly preparing for a period of great transformation – calling upon a society once hungry for consumerism to embrace traditional concepts such as ‘less is more’. It is time to rediscover, unite and share the Italian experience with the world, and here at Kooomo we could not be prouder of the work our clients are doing.”

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