Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Mr Ackett – Hackett comes to Milan

Welcome to Grand Hotel Milano, Mr Ackett. I love the way the Italians drop their aitches, it sounds so much more charming than when spoken by the English.

The hotel was conveniently located about 50 yards from our new flagship store on Via Manzoni. A retired and immaculately attired fashion editor related to me the story that Ackett is on the same site that around fifty years ago, a famous Milanese Tailor had plied his trade. He had visited the shop to interview Clark Gable who was being measured for a suit at the time, so we have a lot to live up to.

Our business in Italy has been growing steadily and for the last three years, we have been selling to a number of shops around the country but never the whole concept of Hackett. This has prompted us to open now and with the economy in disarray, what better time to set up shop.

Sandwiched between Via Monte Napoleone and Via Della Spiga, two of the most famous shopping streets in the world, we are well placed to look after the well heeled Italians who stroll around this fashion centre.

Whenever we open a new shop, I declare it is the best one yet but I have to say Via Manzoni has set a new standard for us. It is a beautiful shop. Refined and elegant like a London Town house nestled in the heart of Mayfair, transported to the heart of Milan.

I particularly admire the long and winding staircase that leads to the tailoring room. Here customers can relax, enjoy a drink whilst ordering suits, shirts or even monogrammed ties. It is a quiet haven from the bustle of the street; although I hope not too quiet.

To mark our presence in Milan, it was important to make a bit of noise. We embarked on a couple of marketing wheezes, where we dressed a dozen models in our Mayfair tailored suits gave them Bowler hats and Umbrellas and a spoof copy of a newspaper that we named The London Times. Emblazoned on the cover was the announcement that Hackett had come to Milan accompanied with photographs of the Hackett advertising.

The models were then placed in strategic positions around Milan, including exiting a London taxi, taking tea at local cafes and generally having a lot of fun. We even brought the rain with us. It caused quite a stir, in fact you can check out the video we made of it.

Whilst all this was going on, I was conducting interviews with numerous magazines. What strikes me about the Italians is their love of fashion which starts when they are very young. I was chatting to a chic couple with their children in our Little Britons department. The children knew exactly what they wanted and when they tried on various items, they wore them with ease and confidence.

Fashion is everywhere in Milan and whether it is cutting edge or classic, there is an overall appreciation of it. Walking down Via Monte Napoleone, I noticed a manhole cover painted in bright colours and I thought even manhole covers are fashionable.

My main reason to be in Milan was for our opening party. As is the tradition, I arrived in a convertible Aston Martin DB9 with the hood down just as it began to rain. Fortunately, I had an umbrella. The party was a huge success, attracting more than five hundred people including a number of famous Italian actors.

One of the most popular attractions was the London cab done up as a photo booth with instant pictures which could be left in the London telephone box adjacent to the cab. We had arranged to have a seamstress on hand to monogram handkerchiefs for our guests as they left. A gift not to be sneezed at. On the back page of our spoof newspaper was the headline ‘Have you seen Mr Classic; he was last seen leaving the building...’

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