A colourful atmosphere, fun events and specialised personnel welcome young consumers at Space 23, two newly opened Italian sports stores. “Our aim is to build a chain of similar stores,” explains CEO Giancarlo Marchioni who opened the first 320sqm store in Milan in January 2013 and a second one in Corciano, near Perugia last September. “More stores are ready to be inaugurated soon. Rome will follow in February 2014 and hopefully we will reach about 50 stores worldwide in a few years.” Interview By Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are the current bestsellers and why?
Among our bestsellers are sneakers and sports apparel by Nike, Adidas, Puma and New Balance, caps by New Era and gadgets such as covers for iphone by Blacksheep, music cuffs by Sennheiser and Tattly temporary tattoos. Also very cool are special edition models such as the Puma sneakers designed for Marrakesh singer, Adidas by Jeremy Scott, the Nike Yeezy 2 worn by Kayne West and Adidas Derrick Rose 3.5. Also successful are the Nike Revolution, the high-heeled sneakers designed by Isabel Marant, the Nike Jordan 5 Lab5 and the Nike Mercurial Galaxy designed for Cristiano Ronaldo, but this list could go on for ever… Our store targets 14-24 year-olds. They are attracted by what we sell because we offer them the beauty and fun of sports. And we are not simply selling sneakers well – as most active stores are successful for - but also sporty apparel, which is something not many stores sell well, especially in Italy right now. If you look around you will see our fun and colourful environment. Everyone is involved in feeling part of this lively location. Moreover, we always organize new events every week together with brands willing to promote themselves for a new collaboration or a special edition...and our stores are fully packed with young enthusiastic people…

Space 23
Space 23

Do people buy according to their favourite brand, style, or impulse?
They buy according to brand, but mostly because they are motivated by a strong emotion. Moreover, in our store we try our best to involve them also through the competence of our shop-personnel. They are not simply salespeople, but first of all brand managers. All of them are first of all athletes and know about the sport they are serving clients for. Sara, for instance, is a former football player and trainer… Each of them is focused on a specific sport and can advise customers the best choice, while conveying their passion for the sport and how cool it can be dressing for it – in fact every athlete likes to also dress according to a sporty attitude... Athletes follow their own sporty soul 24 hours a day – while training, competing but also in their leisure time. Our aim is to show our customers how cool being sporty and playing sports can be. Going back to our stores, each of them is divided according to five main sport areas. The main areas are focused on running, basketball, soccer, training and action sports (mostly board sports)....

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
We communicate through social networks and, of course, through our events... Many companies are interested in what we organize because we attract the young with events that speak to them directly. Our next event will be organized with Oakley and Red Bull. They will bring two skate ramps here in front of our shop! We select products for our stores by visiting trade shows – especially travelling around the world, even if the US, California in particular, is the best place for me to discover new ideas and brands. In any case my greatest source of inspiration are Urban Outfitters stores.

Colorful atmosphere at Space 23
Colorful atmosphere at Space 23

What are the most important trends, in general?
After traditional sports – which are mostly aimed at a wider group of consumers – action sports are the coolest and most influential trends in sportswear and activewear.

Have you added any new labels to your assortment?
Yes, but I prefer not to name them. They are mostly small Californian brands I discover when I travel to trade shows in the US. Among the most renowned ones I will add are Converse, a new special selection of a remake from Chuck Tailors of the 1970s.

How does your store differ from other stores?
There are no stores like our stores. First of all, our stores connect together the experience of different insiders such as two shareholders - soccer player Marco Materazzi and basketball player Stefano Mancinelli, plus other partners among which are some fashion insiders. I manage these stores but I have also learnt a lot by working in the sportswear business for a long time. I have worked for many years for Nike and have learnt so much about this segment. Though after so much I wanted to focus on a project that could provide the right attention to consumers’ needs.

Space 23
Space 23

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
They are extremely important. You have to offer careful advice and a fun environment. This is all that our stores are offering. They are not simply stores but platforms for communication. Traditional sport chains are empty right now and the young hardly enter them because they have never changed through the years... People like us because we communicate to them the beauty and fun of sports.

Stores' addresses:
Space 23
Corso Garibaldi 104
I-20121 Milano (MI)
+39 02 65560250

Via Gagarin 3
I-06073 Corciano