MILAN-Old traditions die hard in Italy, where it is still difficult to find a tailor that accepts all major credit cards. But last month, a small e-commerce that sells tailored menswear, became the first Made in Italy e-commerce to accept bitcoin transactions. Lanieri, whose main investor is luxury textile giant Reda 1865, started as a student project by two MBA students at the Collège des Ingénieurs in Paris. The project became a reality and was later awarded the Premio Nazionale per l’Innovazione (National Innovation Prize) in 2012 and later, the Netcomm Award for the best clothing and accessories commerce. Today, with tailoring facilities all over Northern Italy, Lanieri provides Italian suits, as well as chinos, shirts, ties and scarves, all over the world. Their suits, which run north of about EUR550, are crafted with fabrics from Italy’s top mills: Reda 1865, Vitale Barberis Canonic, Ermenegildo Zegna and Loro Piana, just to name a few.
Keeping up with technology, is essential in securing its future, Lanieri’s founders said.
Virtual and digital cryptocurrencies that protect the consumer’s identity are all the rage these days – with everyone from Chinese oligarchs to college kids stampeding into the unregulated waters of virtual currency. Larger, e-commerce players have been slow to embrace the revolution which through payment systems like BitPay makes it easier for online retailers to skirt fees associated with credit card transactions. BACO chats with the 34-year-old co-founder of the online reality that is shipping Italian tailored suits all over the world.
SC: Simone, we are still wrapping our head around cryptocurrency, and the risks, but tell us how one can make a payment with it on your website?
SM: We accept only bitcoin payments at the moment. Bitcoin payments represent 50 percent of the market capital of all cryptocurrencies. There are a lot of them, as you may know […] like Litecoin, Zcash and Altcoins. So far we have had very few transactions, but we linked up with a bitcoin service provider called BitPay — it is like Paypal for Bitcoin and so we think this is definitely the future.
SC: Everyone seems to be investing in Bitcoin… even my 22 year old brother and his college roommates. Crazy. Do you invest?
SM: I do, not a lot, but I do invest in Bitcoins.
SC: You are currently the only Italian e-tailer that is accepting bitcoin payments. Why such a bold move?
The idea was sparked when one of our clients came to us about if we would consider accepting it. We wanted to really establish ourselves as a fashion tech company. That’s what we are, how we started, and we want to show that we sell a traditional product but we are truly a tech company. We already use STRIPE for example, which is a commerce payment toolkit of arts.
Fashion and tech means a lot of things today. Bitcoin seems to be beckoning a revolution. What do you think?
I think that blockchain startups are revolutionizing the world and that the terrain will seem extremely different in the years to come. Consider that in 2000, amid the dotcom bubble, Google and Amazon were born. They are now the biggest players. We are living in an era where the new BIG leaders will be born.
In terms of your business, are sales growing?
Yes, in 2016 we booked 2M euro in sales and we hope to book 4M, or double by the end of this year.
What are your key markets?
Italy represents the lion share but France and Brussels are also emerging as key markets. In terms of extra-EU, four percent of our sales are booked in the US. We currently ship to 55 countries worldwide.
Your competitors are making elegant products, but in China. In your opinion, how do you compare?
We work with industrial tailors, and that may sound bad, but really these facilities are making amazing, high end products. We link with manufacturers who do our shirts, suits, ties. Our biggest investor is Reda 1865 [Italy’s luxury wool mill] and they give us a lot of advice. As engineers, we speak a language that they don’t but they offer us the advice we need to really make beautiful products.