As part of our Future of eCommerce series, we sat down (virtually, of course!) with Claudio Lugli Managing Director, Nav Salimian, to chat about their experience of the current global pandemic so far, how the brand used their social community to help decide where they went next and how they are preparing for the future.
Claudio Lugli is a fashion house, determined and proud to convey stories and evoke responses through garments rather than words. The brand supplies over 300 retailers who support Claudio’s goal of creating a fashion niche - one of expression, inspiration and playfulness.
Hi Nav, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Before we get into the more detailed questions, for those that don’t know, can you tell us a little about the business?
Of course! At Claudio Lugli we make garments that make people feel good. We believe that fashion should make you feel something - it should give you an emotional response and that is what we strive to do. Our customers don’t conform to stereotypes or dress in a ‘uniform’ and we lean on our customers’ feedback to help inform our creative choices - at the end of the day, we’re designing for those creative individuals in our community who want to convey their spirit and unleash inhibitions through their clothing choices - so why not get them involved in the process!?
Thanks! Obviously, we are all in lockdown at the moment, and have had to adapt to a ‘new norm’. What has Claudio Lugli’s experience of COVID-19 been so far?
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, but on the whole, we’re managing to stay really positive and seeing great successes. We have had to furlough a number of staff members with the majority also working from home since we sell to over 300 retailers, a large number of which are now closed. This has driven us to focus all of our attention online.
Our initial concern for the company during this time was that we aren’t an ‘essential’ product, so we did expect to feel the impact. However, this time has really allowed us to become even more creative and innovative. Now is the time to test and try new things. Yes, we have found it challenging but the passion we have and our customers have for the brand will ensure that we will succeed.
We have found that Visualsoft have really supported us on this. Foundations were set in place early on, and the specialists we work with at Visualsoft have a wealth of experience that we have really relied on. It’s been really great to have that ongoing dialogue. I have found myself reaching out for things such as content ideas for social and email. The team I work with is as passionate about the brand as I am and that comes across in their ideas.
I’ve also been really impressed by DPD. We’ve had no clients calling wondering where their parcels are, so, in that regard, things are running as normal! We pride ourselves on ensuring that every touchpoint that a client has with our brand is flawless. This is something which is even more critical at this moment in time. Our customers are our brand ambassadors and we treat them like that. We are constantly asking for their feedback which will help shape what we do going forward. This is even more important in the current climate.
You mentioned to us earlier about your spottedinclaudio Facebook group. Could you tell us more about this initiative and how this has been utilised throughout this time period?
Of course. The “SpottedinClaudio” group is a closed Facebook group where we engage with our brand ambassadors. It acts as a focus group for us, the group’s followers provide instant feedback on for example a new product. They will also help us make design decisions for future collections. We really listen to customers regarding what they want to see, what stands out and makes a statement to each of their individual personalities.
What we have found throughout this lockdown period is the positive spirit is still there. Yes, our clothes are designed to make a statement, but our audience has told us that they still like to make a statement even if that is at home. They have produced their own creative pieces about how you can still look good in lockdown, such as pairing a Claudio shirt with joggers (or boxers!) for virtual meetings. We have then used this to inspire a social media campaign.
The passion our customers have for our brand never fails to amaze me. It's a passion that we all very much share.
Has your marketing message changed much in reaction to COVID-19?
There was no way we weren’t going to be completely transparent, especially since we had the insight from the spottedinclaudio group - we knew what their concerns were. Our marketing tactics may have changed slightly, but the message, on the whole, remains the same. We think it’s really important to be playful but not tone-deaf - finding a sense of humour in our communications while remaining sensitive to the topic or difficult situations.
We knew people would want to carry on looking good to help boost their mood, confidence and motivation throughout all of this. We are offering a 15% discount (UNITE) throughout the pandemic, to ease the impact a little bit on people’s financial situations during an uncertain time period, whilst also enabling them to still treat themselves and feel good.
Performance-wise, are you noticing different trends to the ‘norm’ in light of the pandemic - have you noticed changes in consumer behaviours?
A lot of businesses would have closed or temporarily ceased operation but we have such a belief in our products and brand that we chose to continue on and we have seen success throughout the pandemic, and we have noticed new trends.
With our wholesale distribution network being pretty much flattened as mentioned earlier, we have had to rely completely on our digital platforms. Our multichannel distribution has improved and we have invested more in eBay and Amazon ads to increase reach, engagement and conversions, which has been successful. We have found that this has given us brand awareness and an increase in global presence.
What do you expect Q4 to look like this year? Are your plans different from last year, or are you planning on operating business as usual?
We are particularly lucky as we did all of our purchasing for Q4 last year - a lot of prep for Q4 takes place in the previous Q4. For us, the creative side is very important, so we use the data we gather from analysing results and directly from our “SpottedinClaudio” family to help us finalise our creative decisions.
We do, however, always like to jump on emerging trends - for example Tiger King. At this stage, we’re uncertain whether the European factories will be able to produce some creative trends. Regardless we’re still forecasting a strong period - our Q4 stock is in our showroom already and we remain confident that we will have a strong Black Friday.
Finally, how do you think eCommerce and/or your particular sector will look like, in a year from now?
My heart really goes out to the high street and independents that have fallen on hard times - high street shops gave us our break, and they have stayed loyal to us over the years, so we’re really hoping that it bounces back.
In terms of the Claudio brand, we’ve been taking educated risks. I truly feel that if we can prevail through this, our brand will be far stronger and I think that we have already prevailed this period. We are bold with our decision making and the garments make a statement for us - our garments dare to be different, and so do we.
I’ve always wanted this brand to have international recognition, and I’m hoping that once we come out the other side of this, stronger than ever before, that will be the next big step for Claudio.
A huge thank you to Nav, Director at Claudio Lugli for taking the time out of his busy day to chat with us on all things COVID and beyond.
You can find out more about Claudio Lugli at www.claudioluglishirts.com