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Interview with Franco Minucci, Part 2

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Here is the continuation of my conversation with Tie Your Tie founder Franco Minucci. The first part is here.

Were Kiton and Attolini already well-known when you started carrying them?

Attolini not at all. I remember one day the son, Vincenzo, came to visit my store. He introduced himself and described to me the history of the firm. I didn't know the name, and already carrying Kiton and Rubinacci, I thought adding another brand I didn't know might be a mistake. But he wanted to show me a jacket, so he went to get one. He came back with this little jacket in a nondescript fabric and invited me to try it on.

As soon as I got inside the jacket, I could tell it was a very well-made piece. I couldn't order a lot, so at first I just bought twelve jackets, of which six were blue – and I never, ever, bought blue jackets.

I had a good relationship with them. They trusted me and listened to me. For instance, I convinced them to do some unlined, deconstructed jackets, which they didn't do previously.

I remember going there several time to look at prototypes, because it took a few tries to get right. In the end they made me four jackets – but I made a mistake in the order. The construction of the jackets was perfect, but I picked a cashmere fabric that was too soft. But I learned to pick a fabric that would hold its form a little bit better, and sometimes we'd put a little bit of lining on the shoulder.

And how did you get the idea?

I like wearing a jacket, but I also like just wearing a shirt. I like clothes that are soft, that hug you without being rigid. So my tailor here, who makes a very soft jacket, had suggested to me this type of jacket.

You were still in the small shop?

Yes, until 2001. Next door was a larger store that sold shoes. It was owned by a gentleman from Venice, who eventually decided he wanted to return there and gave up the space. At that point, the old Tie Your Tie became just a display in the windows and an office for my wife, and the store itself moved into the bigger space next door.

I had a boyhood friend who is an architect and a carpenter who does wonderful work redo the whole space, with all natural materials, in a beautiful style.

When my Japanese partners opened up Tie Your Tie stores in Japan, they first came and photographed every inch of my Florence store, and reproduced it absolutely perfectly, exactly the same as it was here. Colors, wood, showcases, everything. At first it was known only by the Japanese who had been to Florence, but it became popular there quickly.

Did the stores there carry all the same brands as the original store in Florence?

The very same. That's what they wanted to do as well – it doesn't make much sense to open up a Tie Your Tie store and then have inside, I don't know, Lubiam. So when I bought for my store, I would buy for their stores as well. But also I would have someone from the Japanese company with me to give advice so that I didn't buy something that wouldn't do well in Japan.

And the store in Japan grew as well, from a little room to three floors. In Japan you have to dedicate a whole floor just to be the receiving room where the clients can be welcomed and sit down for a drink.

And the stores in Japan also of course became distributors of the ties we made here in Florence.

And you still sold those in your store here?

Yes, of course – at that point those were the only ties we sold. We had great success with them, particularly the unlined seven-folds, because they were very rare at that point.

I like to have things that are unique. For example, I always carried trousers from Rota, which makes the most beautiful trousers. The only such firm remaining, really. For thirty years they were the only trousers I carried. Before Rota, there was Zanella, which made nice pants. But then they started making very modern styled pants, and I wanted something more classic.

What does the landscape of retail look like to you today?

I'd say now in Italy stores are divided into two categories: the "vintage" stores - not just the stores that sell old stuff but recently made items using old designs - which are doing pretty well. And then there are the other stores which all copy each other. They all have the same things.




post #2 of 2

Sounds like an interesting guy. Do you know what he means when he says Rota trousers are more classic, and others not?

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