Fashion Room, Lampoon
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Fashion Room, Florence. «A modern day newsagent kiosk for hard to find fashion magazines»

With branches near the main Florence fair centre and the textile district in Prato, Fashion Room caters for both fashion students and professionals

Fashion Room in Florence

Founder Riccardo Ricci, first set up his bookstore in 1993, right in the centre of Florence, in via della Vigna Nuova. Over time, Fashion Room has opened another store in Prato in 2003. It has also moved its Florence location to via Il Prato, on the outskirts of Florence’s city centre in 2012.

Prior to opening Fashion Room, Ricci was a programmer for a software company up until 1992. Nevertheless, he maintains that he has always had «a passion for fashion and music since middle school and during my time as a student, I worked in a vinyl shop». Ricci’s interest in fashion magazines stems from the time his family owned a small traditional newsagent kiosk in via Tornabuoni.

«During trade fair shows held at Fortezza da Basso, especially Pitti, I would always go and give a hand because I had this passion. Over the years I developed a direct relationship with distributors and editors. Then, came the proposal to open a specialized fashion bookstore and Fashion Room Firenze started. Overall it was an intuition from my father and my desire to be involved in the fashion industry»

Fashion Room’s location

When asked what makes his magazine store distinctive, Ricci affirms that at the time Fashion Room opened it was «the only one of its kind around. The majority of bookstores sold illustrated books and books primarily for reading before going to bed». Ricci further acknowledges Fashion Room’s exceptional ability to research and obtain rare magazines. Especially for small independent editions that are not only difficult to find but do not generate great turnover. This has made his store stand out from the rest.

Whilst the new location is no longer in the historic centre of Florence, it is still situated in a relatively central area, near the American embassy and Polimoda. Ricci attributes the reasoning behind moving just outside the city centre to expanding its «area of access, as customers can now reach the store via car, as it is just located outside the ‘ZTL’. In Florence cars aren’t able to enter the historic centre unless they have a permit which can be difficult and costly to obtain. It is also near Florence main train station and Porta a Prato, which is well served by taxis and other forms of public transport, such as trams and buses».

Within the twenty-five year of Fashion Room’s history, there have been changes primarily revolving around the type of products «sold at the store. Initially the bookstore was exclusively for designers. Someone who came to buy a certain book for work. Afterwards we understood the need to expand our consumer base taking into account fashion students and anyone interested in the industry. So we have broadened our selection and have increased the number of books we stock». Overall, the new location of the Florence store has provided a substantially larger space. As soon as you walk in you see two colored tables, displaying plenty of books, the original wooden beams have been restored. They mix traditional design with modern wooden and iron furniture, adding new value to the structure of the space. 

Lampoon, MAGAZINES SELECTED BY FASHION ROOM
MAGAZINES SELECTED BY FASHION ROOM

Lampoon review: Fashion Room’s collection of international magazines

As for the selection process for Fashion Room’s magazines and books, Ricci acknowledges that the choice of books is the DNA of any bookstore. Further, the process of identifying magazines and books to stock can be an arduous one. Nevertheless, «we have the good fortune of having knowledgeable employees. They demonstrate a real passion in sourcing books. We have an employee tasked with sourcing magazines and another on books. Further, we are constantly online on the look out».

«We listen to suggestions from our clients and look at similar outlets all over the world, whether it be Copenhagen, Berlin or New York, always trying to track down the most exclusive titles. Lately, we have been selecting through direct contacts with publishing houses because international importers don’t always have and interest for distributing limited edition material that does not have a high volume of sales».

As for Fashion Room’s noticeable collection of international magazines and books Ricci explains that «ninety-nine percent of our magazines are international. You are not likely to not find Vogue Italia in our store. But you will find Vogue magazines of all the other countries we can get hold of. Many of our clients get in touch and request items. For instance, a designer may have seen a post on Instagram and asks us to track down a title. We have requested all international distributors to send us the first copy of any relevant magazine. Then, nine out of ten times we continue to sell those publications». 

Fashion Room’s participation at fairs

Fashion Room also holds events as well as a variety of activities to highlight new publications. Ricci affirms that «in Florence we host events based on the titles we sell in our store. We have the good fortune of being in Florence. Here, in fact, events such as Pitti Uomo, Pitti Bimbo and Pitti Filati take place. Also Taste and Fragranze are getting known. Many publishers have asked us to hold book presentations and authors have introduced their books. Further, from time to time we also host authors’ talks. We have organized well attended events collaborating with specific magazines».

As for the store in Prato, Ricci further states that it is a «bookshop aimed in a specific way at professionals who work in the industry and hosts presentations on market trends as well as new book events. We have both Italian and international speakers, researchers who at the the moment offer online trend immersions. This happens at least twice a year targeting the numerous textile companies based in the Prato area». 

When asked about the numerous fairs Fashion Room attends, Ricci maintains that «usually we participate in fifteen fairs a year, the main ones being the various Pitti fairs due to their close proximity. They enable us to meet our clients in person besides having an immediate sell out. They also provide us with publicity and contacts. Our e-commerce has increased since we started taking part in these fairs. Fairs that we attend include Linea Pelle, Milano Unica, Como Crea. Then I go to Première Vision twice a year. We are very active in the fair scene because it allows us to showcase what we do in the best way».

Lampoon, Double magazine issue 40
Double magazine issue 40

Promotional events and sustainability at Fashion Room

Concerning the organization of promotional events, Ricci states that «we do everything in-house. Sometimes our collaborators help us. We also work with other bookshops all over Europe. Promotional events include liaising with schools. There we engage in numerous events organising lessons, having students over in our bookshops and explaining the material that they will need to use once they have entered the job market. We have contacts with the Politecnico in Milan. Once a year their students come here for a lesson. We work with Polimoda which is just around the corner. We are also very close to Marangoni, Lab Academy, Accademia della Moda. Thanks to our partnership with Pantone we offer workshops on color. These are not a publicity for Pantone. But rather they explain the influence of color on fashion and the consumer market and describe how colors are developed throughout production stages». 

When it comes to promoting awareness of current issues associated with climate change and sustainability, Ricci underlines the importance of researching and stocking titles that deal with this topic. «We also collaborate with researchers who have been studying this topic for over ten years. They are often the ones who pinpoint the relevant material we should stock. We keep tabs on everything new that comes onto the market, such as independent magazines, limited editions, material not available on Amazon, niche material that follows sustainable guidelines even in its production e.g. recycled paper, use of eco-friendly ink». 

Publishing industry dealing with COVID-19

Regarding Fashion Room’s ability to navigate the Covid-19 crisis, Ricci explains that «at first, as you can imagine, I was distraught as I was not even able to get out of the house to visit the bookstore. Then we reacted by revising our e-commerce platform, increasing a thousandfold our online offer. Within two weeks we started shipping materials every day. It picked up really quickly, thanks to the interest of our clients. They appreciated what we were doing in this difficult moment and helped us with their orders. Obviously we have had special online offers and discounts. We have also updated the functionality of our website to enable us to work from home». 

«I must also thank my members of staff. They really worked hard to keep our online store active and filled with new content and publications, always answering any query within twenty-four hours. We have always had personal rapports with our clients. So we hope to be able to go back and meet them all in person very soon. We miss fairs and the energy that we get whilst preparing to attend them. The feeling that we are part of something. This year has taught us to potentiate the technological approach to our work. We have started something useful. We have improved our online presence, making significant changes. Therefore, it has not been a completely negative experience».

Fashion Room

Via Il Prato, 7/R, 50132 Florence

Enrico Chhibber

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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