Owner of Italy’s Raccolta Differenziata Luigi De Andreis claims that his only bestsellers are Freitag bags. "I buy pieces and garments in one of each size, selling products that are as interesting and as timeless as possible. My clients trust that I sell everything I carry in my store, which means I don’t end up having many bestsellers.” Rather than follow the trends, Andreis prefers to sell pieces that endure in one’s wardrobe and that can always be mixed with new things. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are your current bestsellers and why?
Freitag is our store’s bestselling brand. I think its success is driven by adequate price-quality ratio and by the fact that our store is the only one in the vicinity that carries it. Otherwise I don’t really have any massively bestselling brands; when I founded the store, whose name means “waste separation” in English, I decided to offer a selection of products from research designers as opposed to the most popular ones. On our underground level we carry names like Dries van Noten, Forte Forte, Paul Smith, Isabel Marant and Ann Demeulemeester, but instead of offering their whole ranges, we only display a few carefully selected items per brand that, according to my clients, match their taste and spending power.

I buy the jacket that everyone wants to have and that will last a long time, or that one special shirt; never just what's hot at the moment. I buy an exemplar of each size and that's it. I prefer to sell products that are not mainstream, but rather as interesting and as timeless as possible. On our ground floor I offer younger, though always research, brands such as Alternative, Nike (limited series), Saucony and Cycle, our only denim brand.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or out of impulse?
My selection could encourage impulse buys, but they are things that our customers keep and wear for a long time. People pass through to see what I have on offer from Dries Van Noten or Paul Smith's collections, for example. They like to get our advice and can find a whole wardrobe in one place.

Where do you place your orders? How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
I've been doing this for 23 years. I started when I was 20 and now I'm 43. I know all of the showrooms and fairs and visit all of the most significant ones in Paris, Berlin and Milan.
For communicating with my customers, I use very “primitive media" – no social media and no websites – even though I do think it’s time I start setting up an e-commerce site. That will happen very soon, probably by 2013, and I'll do my best to reflect the same attitude of my physical store.

What do your collections for next fall/winter look like?

It’s difficult to say. As I mentioned, if there’s something “hot” out there, I usually offer the opposite. I look for what is not and for what I don't see around everywhere. I'll offer items in season-specific trendy colors, but I won't order anymore once they're gone. An item’s fabric and price guides my selection process; if I think something is too expensive for what it is, I don't buy that brand for that season. Right now I’m offering a short jacket and a coat that falls down to the ankles. I like timeless products because my store has to have that look. I can also sell a nice, made in Italy cardigan for €120.

Have you added any new labels to your assortment?
I cut Margiela after 12 years of carrying it, in an attempt to reduce my spending budget, and added some Japanese brands like TSS and 45RPM, which are fresher and less expensive.

How does your store differ from other stores?
The first real difference is personnel. I run my store with my sister Maria Teresa and a shop assistant who has been working here for long while, Gabriele Di Cagni. Sometimes we also get help from Cristina Armani. I think that the crisis has helped us go beyond fashion and offer things that can really last in one's wardrobe. It may sound absurd but it is true, and I feel as though I’m working better now than I was eight or five years ago.

What do you like about your customers?
The human relationship is what counts most. People come in – we get customers from 15 to 50 years of age – get our advice and might leave without buying anything. But they often return a week after. That’s the kind of relationship we build: they enter, we show them something they might like and then might return, and no one puts pressure on them. Some clients often say, “Sorry I haven’t been back in a while, but if I’m here, I end up buying!”

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
Very. The store is located in the quiet courtyard of an ancient palace from the 1400s. Our shop windows are never grey, but full of harmony. When someone makes a purchase, whatever the size, he or she leaves with a nice package. We’re always here in case something goes wrong or is too tight or too loose, and guarantee to help our customers upon their return.

Store front of Raccolta Differenziata in Trento, Italy
Store front of Raccolta Differenziata in Trento, Italy