Mario Bisio embraces business the way he embraces life.
Undaunted by recent recessions, price hikes, ever-increasing competition and numerous world crises, Mario Bisio continues to grow his business the way he always has: with passion, with style and with an intense belief in the power of relationships.
How would you describe yourself to someone who doesn’t know you? Upbeat. Positive. Fun-loving.
What is your personal style? I like to look put together, but not like I’m trying too hard!
What is your vision/mission statement for your stores? Our mission statement is “to inspire people and possibilities.” We try to create an ambiance that’s playful, that encourages customers to explore, discover and delight.
How’s your men’s business? What’s needed to make it better? Menswear is fun again: men are back shopping; they are resolved to move forward and live their lives! The main thing that’s needed for business to improve: more consumer confidence that we can get our national debt under control and create a better financial outlook.
What are your hottest menswear looks at retail? One of our strongest collections is Brunello Cucinelli: I totally admire him for creating a luxury lifestyle brand that inspires men to dress in a sportier way. He’s recently added suits but he’s adamant that a guy wearing a suit shouldn’t feel like a suit. So his designs feel more youthful, but with a classic heritage that’s comforting and timeless.
What would you like to see more of/less of in the market? There’s no shortage of great menswear out there! We shop a lot, in Europe, New York and L.A., so I see my role as a curator of international fashion. Yes, we have some designer shops in our stores but where we do, our edit is different from both the monobrand stores and the department stores.
Our customers are sophisticated, they travel, they have plenty of shopping options. So I totally love it when they come into our stores and tell us that they saw one of our collections or brands somewhere else but somehow, we put it together differently or our assortment is better. Our goal is to do this season after season, to present great items in ways that provoke, inspire and excite.
But how do you compete when department stores and flash sale sites promote the same brands early in the season? The markdown cadence and reward gimmicks in department stores serve mostly to devalue the luxury brands and encourage customers to game the system. Europe does it better than we do by legally establishing stable values for fashion and luxury. I believe vendors with monobrand stores could help the situation by creating best practices within their own stores to lengthen the selling season and establish a healthier markdown cadence.
That said, independent stores provide a value proposition: customers come to us for our mix, our taste level, our validation. Plus, since we’ve introduced many great brands to the Northwest, we often get items within collections that are exclusive to us. This is where relationships come into play. I don’t blame vendors for selling the big stores: they need a certain volume to survive. But based on our strong relationships, we find ways to make it work for both of us.
Do you have a pet peeve? I get irritated seeing guys at a party wearing sloppy clothes, especially when their wives are so well put together. I want to help!
What’s the best advice you ever got from your father? Don’t go into the clothing business. I obviously didn’t listen very well.