"The Romanian luxury customer’s style is really fashionable and well documented". An interview with Filippo Mengotti.

Filippo Mengotti & Me

On the 23rd of March, Mengotti store celebrated five years since it’s opening in Romania, on Calea Victoriei no 48-50. The anniversary was synchronized with the entrance of a new brand at Mengotti – Giorgio Armani. A special team from Armani was there to take care of every single detail of the fashion show, that took place at Casa Doina. The clothes were impeccable and the party was loads of fun. I got to congratulate Adriano Mengotti for the anniversary and also to meet his son, Filippo, who accepted to give me an interview for Featherinashoe.com. With no other introduction, here is what we got to talk about… Featherinashoe: How did the Romanian public surprise you since you first opened the store, five years ago in Bucharest?
Filippo Mengotti: When we started our business here – on the 23 of March 2008 – we already had 12 stores in Italy. We decided to bring a part of the Italian style in Romania because we thought there was nothing alike here. At first we thought Romanians were dressing really comfortable and wearing very large clothes.
Featherinashoe: Wow! Why would you think that??
Filippo Mengotti: We were already planning to open a store here almost 10 years from now, and as we did an analysis on how men dressed – we draw to the conclusion that they don’t have a much defined style and they just prefer wearing comfortable clothes. But in a year we had to change our strategy – because this was not right. They actually like to dress in a very Italian and fashionable way. So, in the end, they are a lot more similar to our Italian customers than we first thought. Also, we thought the women here will wear more comfortable shoes, but it’s exactly the opposite. They love really high heel shoes and they usually buy elegant styles more that the comfortable ones.

Featherinashoe: How can you describe your customer’s style here in Romania?  
Filippo Mengotti: As I told you, our thought was to bring the Italian style here – but the reality is that our Romanian customer is from the high society and he moves a lot, he travels all over the world, and he does his shopping in other countries, he knows the designer collections and the exact thing that he wants to buy. He knows everything. And he sometimes even surprises us with the particularities he is asking for. So, our customer’s style is really fashionable and well documented – through reading fashion magazines, and traveling, and their big interest for fashion.

Featherinashoe: What are the best sellers at Mengotti Romania from the women’s department?  
Filippo Mengotti: Bags! They are the “oggetti del desiderio” (Italian for ‘objects of desire’). And I truly believe that accessories can make or break an outfit. Handbags and shoes are the ones that establish if a look is sophisticated or not.

Featherinashoe: Prada has more than one statement bag and I must say that if I see a designer bag on the streets of Bucharest it’s most probable to be Prada. So, that’s a very popular brand among bags here!
Filippo Mengotti: I’m glad to hear that!
Featherinashoe: What about shoes?
Filippo Mengotti: Well, Romanian women really like high heels. They mostly buy shoes for special occasions and events. They like to buy show off shoes and mostly sexy shoes, which is really different from our market in Italy, where women buy more comfortable shoes. But that’s also because of the location: here in Bucharest there are many events and also a great night life, whilst in the small Italian cities of the Venetian area – where we have our other stores – there are no special events to go to so often.
Featherinashoe: Which is the Romanian women’s favorite brand at Mengotti?
Filippo Mengotti: Dolce & Gabbana! It’s even more popular than Prada.


Featherinashoe: Are you thinking about taking the shop online?

Filippo Mengotti: We are working about it. We are now planning to open an online store in Italy. Even though I think Romanians are better with the internet than the Italians, for the moment –  for the Romanian market we are just planning to improve our online communication, but not to open an e-commerce website.
Featherinashoe: Did you always know you will work for the family business or have you ever thought about doing something different with your life?
Filippo Mengotti: I like this kind of business. In my opinion it’s one the most beautiful things you could do in the world.
Featherinashoe: I believe that too! So, you were lucky!
Filippo Mengotti: Yes, I was really lucky. My job means that maybe today I have a meeting with the General Manager of Prada, tomorrow I will talk to the electricity man, some days I will work on the buying and others travel for more meetings. Unfortunately this is not a good moment for the market, especially for the Italian market, so the satisfactions are not so big.
Featherinashoe: You told me that the Romanian market at this moment is better that the Italian one…
Filippo Mengotti: Yes. Even if the Romanian market is going down as well, it’s still better that the Italian market. People are not spending money in Italy anymore. Their wallet is not empty but they are afraid to spend their money. So they buy less. And changing their mind about that is really difficult. It means months and months of work.


Featherinashoe: Tell me about a city that made a true impact on you.

Filippo Mengotti: I love New York. In my opinion, New York is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I lived there for six months. I was an intern there for Sergio Rossi, but those months were more like a long vacation. It’s different from anything in Europe. It’s just overwhelmingly grand and beautiful.
Featherinashoe: You just brought Giorgio Armani at Mengotti… By the way, the show was really good!
Filippo Mengotti: Thank you! Yes, Giorgio Armani is very clean and minimal and the spring/summer 13 collection goes perfectly with our customers style and their way of dressing at the moment. As you can see, we also had the windows changed in this minimalist way.
Featherinashoe:  In my opinion this collection will sell very well. It’s very mature – and has a fluid, diaphanous touch.
Filippo Mengotti: What pieces did you like most?
Featherinashoe: I must say I loved the silk palazzo pants and the white minimal coat.

Featherinashoe: What are the special requests that high-end brands have when entering a multibrand store?
Filippo Mengotti: First of all the multibrand store must be very well known on the fashion market, not just in one country, than it has to have a very good distribution and it has to have exclusivity on the brand. The location has to be one of the top. When we came here, we selected Calea Victoriei also because it had other luxury stores on it. Brands like to have their competitors close, so that’s a rule in every metropolis you go: the brands are very close to each other.

Featherinashoe: I love the way in Italy you keep a business in the family. You are now the fourth generation of Mengotti to take care of the business. How do you feel about passing it on to your children?

Filippo Mengotti: I think I was a really lucky person to be born in a family with such a beautiful business so I can just hope that my son will take over the business. But, that is just a plan, I don’t have any children yet.

Filippo Mengotti lives in Bassano del Grapa and takes care of the management of all Mengotti stores in Italy.

Me & il signore Adriano Mengotti

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