Luisa Via Roma's historical flagship boutique in Florence is more than just a concept store
Confession: e-commerce is bigger a business than we imagined. In fact, a study estimated that it will balloon to be a US$6.54 trillion industry by 2023. Luisa Via Roma, an Italian luxury multi-label retailer, is among a long and growing list of names that want a slice of that gargantuan pie. Faced with competition at every turn (Net-a-Porter and Matchesfashion.com, anyone?), those unfamiliar with the retailer might wrongly underestimate its quiet dominance. We've got just about six reasons why LVR, with over 600 designer collections on its conveyer, is one to watch.
1. They began as a hat shop... 90 years ago.
Founded in 1929 on a street named Via Roma in Florence by Luisa Jaquin (hence the name Luisa Via Roma), the niche boutique was a massive success as it was common practice for women to change hats as many as three times a day. Under the leadership of Lido and Andrea Panconesi, Jaquin’s husband and grandson respectively, Luisa Via Roma grew and diversified into a multi-label retailer. In 1999, they opened their e-commerce doors and the rest as they say, is history. The brand’s flagship store still remains on Via Roma to ensure the brand heritage is kept alive. The three-storey building also serves as a complement to its burgeoning e-commerce business. More on that in a bit.
2. The flagship store is far more than a retail space.
Fashion & Beauty Editor Jolene Khor escaped the hustle and bustle of busy Florentine streets by settling down for a quiet lunch at Floret Artisan Kitchen & Bar, the restaurant located on Luisa Via Roma's first floor terrace, when she visited the store a month ago. Drenched in natural light and nature, the cafe serves a host of organic foods, ranging from poached eggs on avocado toasts and acai bowls, to quinoa salads and cold-pressed juices. Pro tip: customers at Luisa Via Roma may request to head up to the rooftop, where they'll be greeted with an unobstructed panoramic view of Florence's skyline, one that includes the breathtaking Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
3. Luisa Via Roma was the first European retailer to carry Kenzo.
The story goes as such: on his first buying trip in Paris, Andrea Panconesi, with the help of a mutual friend, met Japanese designer Kenzo Takada in 1968. At the time, Takada was making waves as an avant-garde designer. Because the pair hit it off, Panconesi managed to secure the label for Luisa Via Roma, making it the first store in Europe to offer Kenzo’s collections to the entire continent. Since then, they have made it their business to champion lesser known names, by lending their international platform to support emerging labels such as Kirin, Matèriel, and Magda Butrym.
4. The Via Roma store interior changes constantly.
Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. If you haven’t been to the boutique in a while, you might notice that the Luisa Via Roma store interior looks different. Every few months, the boutique takes on a major refurbishment. For example, in conjunction with the festive season last year, the store was revamped by architect and designer Cristina Celestino to the theme of 'Home for the Holidays'. The retail space was transformed into various parts of a home with smartly curated interior decor pieces to create a warm, inviting space unlike that of a typical retail store. The terrace where Floret sits too undergoes the occasional facelift, the most recent of which was primped in collaboration with Marni.
5. Luisa Via Roma gets their hands on exclusive designs unavailable elsewhere.
Flexing their muscle as one of the biggest online retailers, brands such as Prada, Maison Margiela, and MSGM have created unique, limited edition designs and colourways of their bestsellers sold only at Luisa Via Roma.
6. Luisa Via Roma knows how to reward their loyal clientele.
Dubbed LVR Privilege, their membership scheme allows fans to accrue points with every dollar spent and interact with Luisa Via Roma’s social media channel. For example, after a customer rakes up 2,000 points, they may opt to sign on to the LVR Sneakers Club for first dibs on new sneakers drops from Nike, Adidas, Balenciaga, Off-White, and more.