August 5, 2021

Brands: La Martina’s radical restart

5 min read

La Martina, an Italo-Argentinian lifestyle brand founded in 1985 and inspired by the world of polo, has started a new company strategy focused on digitalization and integration through its B2B and B2C networks. As part of the project it signed three new licensing agreements for kidswear, eyewear and fragrances with specialists such as Gimel, Jet Set Group and Venice Olfactory respectively, which join up extant agreements for footwear, bags and small leather goods (also see here). The company also wants to develop a series of capsule collections and new consumer-focused engaging projects.

The reorganization project–already started in 2019 and accelerated in 2020 during the lockdown–is driven by Lando Simonetti, co-founder and CEO with his wife Gachi Ferrari, who decided to take the reins of the company back and focus on an overall rationalization and cross-channel integration process.

Here, Simonetti explains his new strategy.

Lando Simonetti, co-founder and CEO, La Martina

Lando Simonetti, co-founder and CEO, La Martina

How is La Martina reorganizing itself?
The market has changed. Shopping malls and brick-and-mortar stores are suffering as e-commerce is growing along with the difficult time. Physical trade shows and showroom meetings are no longer the only way for a company to connect with retailers and insiders. We therefore decided we had to change structure and organization to face a new growing kind of business.

We started from the product and did radical changes with it. Along with it we also decided to integrate multibrand stores to our e-commerce platform and connect them with our storytelling.

To act strategically, a brand can no longer offer two to three collections per year but more drops per season–each one made up of specific products reinforced by a specific storytelling. As we are an Argentinian brand, we have started offering different capsules that are strongly linked by key aspects of our culture like, for instance, horse riding but also motorbike riding through Ruta 40, a 5,500 km road that crosses the country and runs parallel the Andes Mountains. Along we it we want to relate all these experiences and lifestyles to specific apparel and accessories. So for all the main capsule collections we “packed” an offer that makes consumers feel part of an overall travel experience producing videos and photos of that whole travel and world that make them feel as if they were there. We took inspiration for this storytelling from our 35-year history and connections.

Any store–multibrand or monobrand–can share this material through its social networks. And if a store hasn’t got social media or e-commerce it can use our own. This is what we call “integration.” If we offer eight capsules and a store has just bought five, but a client discovers a different one by watching a video he sees in store and wants to buy it, we can ship the products to that store and the retailer will earn a percentage of that purchase as it worked as intermediary.

This project is not only integrating our company with monobrands but also multibrands, and it’s a huge work we have been doing through platforms. And then we can do it thanks to the support of marketing and communication. Thanks to most modern systems we can communicate directly with specific targets like 18- to 25-year-old single people who are living in a specific city and will send them catered advertising to draw them inside a specific store.

Men's outfit by La Martina

Men’s outfit by La Martina

How can you achieve such a precise profiling of your customers?
We can do it that thanks to important platforms that, for instance, Google owns. By owning the information about people who live near your store we can draw them in store and eventually organize special travels with our clients. For instance, we can create a small capsule focused on that specific Andes crossing but also to other amazing locations like Mexico, India, Tibet, Hawaii, the UK–all places where our connections run polo clubs–but also where we can teach participants to play polo, do horseriding, for instance, on the beach, learn surf riding and other activities. Then I am sure they will want to buy our capsule as it helps them revive that experience.

This is for the future, but it’s very near. There are companies that are already using this system. Instead, we are organizing ourselves to achieve that. Until now we can offer videos and photo material that already involves consumers and makes them desire to be part of these worlds.

How many stores do you want to involve?
We want to start slowly with a few ones in Dubai, Egypt, Paris, St. Tropez and gradually expand. It’s not time to make huge operations…it’s rather time to start establishing all this. It all depends upon involving some key stores, collecting funds and having clear ideas and knowing where we want to go. To achieve this we need to change our retail structure, as the old business model is collapsing. We therefore have to reinvent the way we work and we can only do it via digital and e-commerce, and through new stores that are smaller, offer different experiences in addition to selling apparel. Our Capri store, for instance, has to be small but the service behind it has to be amazing.

In St. Tropez our store is also small, but we can present our complete offer through a huge high-definition Samsung touch screen…. A consumer can watch a video, order the sneakers worn by a model and get them shipped directly. We bought all the platforms that can help us doing this…. That’s how we are rebuilding our company from scratch and hiring managers expert in using such tools.

Are the collections smaller?
We are working at them. In the past they counted 300 pieces. Now we have to focus on smaller collections of about 180 pieces including capsules that are strong and full of storytelling. We want to offer collections designed with the aim to make consumers want to buy pieces that make them feel as if they traveled to dream places. But they are made up of five pieces only.

We also have to reschedule our calendars and work with the right platforms…they are so intelligent and creative that in the future I guess companies will be managed by them and by algorithms.

For instance, we work with Jellyfish, the first international media agency of Facebook and Google. All main luxury brands use it and so do we. Thanks to such systems we can devise how many people enter a store once they have received our invitation to visit our shop.

In the future there will be no longer a difference between a small company as ours and a multinational as we will all use the same tools. The beauty of being small but having the right ideas makes a difference. What counts is how creatively you use them and make your storytelling–that will make a difference and can bring you anywhere. A 30-second video can bring you a whole world–be it  Argentina, India, the UK, Hawaii, South Africa–and make you feel part of the polo world, meet its protagonists from anywhere through your cell phone, iPad or computer.


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‘To be a part of a privately owned company gives a rare freedom’

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