article interview rachel kolarik
March 31, 2016
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In a special pop up series presented by Nordstrom and in conjunction with the Italian Trade Commission (ICE), the retail giant is highlighting 55 meticulously selected Italian brands in their United States premiere.  The brands selected feature a range of apparel, accessories, jewelry, footwear, eyewear, perfumery and beauty products.

The series, “Nordstrom Loves Italy” (which is running from March 4 to April 17) is curated by the company’s VP of creative projects, Olivia Kim.   In preparation for the event, Kim led a team of buyers throughout Italy to select brands for the Pop-In.

“Americans have always had a love affair with Italy – through the food, culture, and style and it is a perfect opportunity to highlight the fashion and lifestyle elements in partnership with the Italian Trade Promotion Agency (ICE),” said Kim. “We have met so many incredibly talented designers from all over Italy who all have amazing stories to tell about their companies.  We really just wanted see what was out there and be sure we could offer the range of Italian fashion, and it’s exciting to give these brands a platform to be exposed in the U.S. for the first time”

This collaboration with Nordstrom is part of a greater effort by the Italian Trade Commission to help enable the next generation of Italian designers to achieve an international reach, and to help maintain Italy’s reputation as the world’s leaders in style, quality, and innovation.

The Pop-Ins are at Nordstrom Galleria Dallas, Nordstrom Houston Galleria, Nordstrom Barton Creek Square in Austin, and Nordstrom The Shops at La Cantera in San Antonio until April 17th.  Depending on brand performance, it is anticipated that Nordstrom may pick up some new brands through this project.

At the event’s launch party in Dallas, we caught up with Model Bianca Brandolini d’Adda, who co-hosted the event with Kim as ambassador for the Italian Agency:

Have you been in Dallas before?

BB: It’s my first time. It’s very exciting hosting the event in support of young Italian brands and Nordstrom. Olivia Kim picked 55 designers from the 700 who entered the competition, so I’m sure it was hard, but her selections are amazing. They have everything — accessories for hair, various jewelry pieces, superb clothes, bags and even umbrellas!

Maurizio Forte, the Italian Trade Commissioner/Director of ICE in New York and a key player in the project was also in attendance:  

Where in Italy are you from?

Maurizio Forte: Rome, though I have moved around from Moscow to Shanghai and eventually New York. We love it here.

Tell us about your collaboration with Nordstrom.

MF: Nordstrom is one of the biggest retailers in the US; more than 300 stores bring in billions of turnover. We are so happy and excited to bring new and boutique Italian companies here and give them a chance to compete in that market. Our role is to introduce them and set up an initial stage, and then it is up to the brands to fight for their success. Whether they win or not, they get to run the race!

Through Nordstrom we collaborated with Olivia Kim who created a nice open formula with the Pop-In shop, enabling us to bring in new designers. Otherwise it would’ve been difficult for an established retailer to introduce a new brand. Space is limited, stakes are high, so we are very grateful she found a way to make it happen.

All the new Italian brands represented in the Nordstrom Pop-In are handpicked by Olivia Kim.

It must be a compliment that American shoppers love Italian fashion.

MF: It is certainly a recognition. Italian culture, fashion, style, food and artistry have been always our superpower. Even in the few months I have lived in New York — the center of the world — I see that Italians have a big community and reputation. I am sad that Italy’s influence is lighter the deeper you go into the US — to states such as Illinois, Massachusetts and Texas — but I am excited because it might be the right time and place to expand: There is a community of shoppers, there is wealth, and Italy is not well known. So it’s perfect! I work for the government, but businessmen say you plant the seed where there is good soil, water, and no other plants surrounding it. So we are happy. We received a nice welcome.

You can have my money — Italy already has my heart!

MF: We don’t need money — we need people to learn about and fall in love with Italy!

It was also a pleasure to catch up with Filippo Capitanio and Giorgio Isabella, the founders of Gioielli Dop – a jewelry company whose handmade charms celebrate the various regional food specialties in Italy:

How has your experience been with Nordstrom?

GD: It’s a great step for us because we only launched last year and already have a great pleasure to sell in the US.

Tell us about your brand.

We create jewelry inspired by Italian traditional food. We design charms made in silver and enamels, then you mix and match to create your own bracelet recipe; you start with one charm and keep adding your own ingredients from Italian cuisine. We started in digital consulting in food and jewelry in Italy and thought, “How can we combine these two pillars?” And now we’re here thanks to the Italian Trade Commission, which gave us the opportunity to gather the applications for Nordstrom.  We are delighted to have made the final selection and be picked by Olivia Kim for Pop-In at Nordstrom!

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