Leveraging innovation and customer dialogue to drive Italian craftsmanship
Jacopo Sebastio, Founder & CEO and Enrico Casati, Co-founder, Velasca
Italy is known for fashion and for the quality of its craftsmanship. One of the aspects that brought you to the crest of the wave (and to be part of the Next Generation Italian Icons studio) is, indeed, knowing how to enhance this quality and the skills of the Italian districts, as well as how to make high craftsmanship accessible through a relevant experience to a young audience. How did you manage to achieve this result and what makes you unique?
Velasca was born from an entrepreneurial challenge aimed at producing and trading handcrafted products characterized by high quality and timeless style. Creations have always been inspired by the classic style of the Italian way of life, which relies on refinement and elegance. In addition to this, from day one, Velasca has chosen to create a quality product, collaborating in the creation of its garments and footwear with only the best raw material suppliers. The careful selection of raw materials has rewarded us and contributed to making Velasca products known and appreciated worldwide for their high quality and timeless elegance.
A constant dialogue with the audiences as well as an authentic and distinctive value proposition allow brands to build a privileged relationship with their consumers and lay solid foundations for the creation of a community, leveraging customer engagement and loyalty. How do you manage relations with your reference communities? How do you listen to consumers’ deepest needs, and what actions do you put in place to meet their requests?
Velasca is a brand born on the wave of the digital revolution and social media–tools that have strongly revolutionized the way we communicate between brand and consumer. Thanks to these media forms, we have been able to build a solid and direct relationship with what our community is today. Velasca’s way of communicating is direct, not merely commercial, and is designed for those who appreciate the beauty of “Made in Italy.” We exploit different communication channels such as our newsletter, which now has around 340,000 subscribers, and social networks. On Facebook and Instagram, for example, we are followed in total, between the Velasca and Velasca Women pages, by over 400,000 followers. In addition to digital, Velasca has a real physical presence thanks to more than 20 boutiques, distributed in different Italian cities and in strategic locations abroad such as London, Paris and New York. A retail network like ours, with “Botteghe” designed to be real meeting places, makes it possible to get in touch with the consumer, also through dedicated events.
You compete in what we at Interbrand call the Express Arena, giving people the opportunity to better build their identity and express themselves; however, you have the potential to look beyond and move towards other competitive scenarios. Which are the brands you compete with, and which will be the ones you would like to compare yourself with tomorrow?
Velasca is constantly evolving and, almost 10 years after its foundation as a footwear brand, has chosen to evolve and embrace a new entrepreneurial challenge by launching its first menswear collection. Total Look Uomo debuted in October 2022 to offer the Velasca community not only iconic hand-crafted footwear, but also the possibility to combine it with a wide collection of clothing in high-end fabrics and yarns. If in footwear Velasca has measured itself against brands such as Church’s, Tod’s or Ferragamo, in this new role as clothing brand, we can also compete with brands such as Ralph Lauren or Aspesi, which were not on our radar until last year.
We are a brand that does not believe in the death of retail, but in its evolution.”
Nowadays when shopping is increasingly hybrid and the experience offered is a driver of choice and loyalty, how will your approach to retail evolve?
Velasca is a company characterized by great flexibility and supported by constant investments in digital and technology, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which are complemented by an ever-growing retail presence that also strengthens the physical relationship with customers. We are a brand that does not believe in the death of retail, but in its evolution: to date, offline sales at Velasca is the component that is growing the most, in which we want to invest and which generates 45% of turnover. The Botteghe Velasca, in addition to being physical shops, are real meeting places where you can breathe in the craftsmanship and Italian spirit from every detail while allowing customers to try on and touch the garments and footwear. In addition to this, the physical shop allows us to offer the consumer a twofold possibility: to buy the product immediately after trying it on, or to continue the purchase at a later date via ecommerce.
Purchases today, especially for luxury and fashion, have become a cultural, ethical and social choice. How does the Velasca brand act as a leader, realizing its value system and how it shares it externally?
Velasca is a project driven by a strong social value that was created with the aim of breathing new life into the craftsmanship sector and fully valorizing “Made in Italy” and the skills of our country’s production districts. Velasca created an ethical product for end customers that, at the same time, allowed them to express their personality and sense of belonging to a brand that reflected their values. Furthermore, 2022 was also the year in which Velasca consolidated its commitment to sustainability by becoming a Benefit Company: a milestone that allowed us to formalize an approach to sustainable development that has always accompanied our values and our way of doing business. But not only that-we are also working on the next step, the BCorp certification, to testify how important it is for Velasca to guarantee the highest attention to the product, the supply chain and the people.