Interview with Dragana Milanović, Co-founder of Roberto Baressi, a Serbian fashion brand with international ambitions.
Please give us an introduction to your company and brand.
Roberto Baressi is a brand run by young people who strive to make excellent shirts. In fact, it all started with the production of shirts, but over time we expanded the product portfolio to dresses, pants, and other fashion categories. Our business is family-owned and we are the second generation to run it.
We currently have stores in three locations in Belgrade, of which two are in the municipality of Vračar and one in Delta City shopping center in New Belgrade.
Describe your target consumer group and price range.
Our clients are business people, who value quality over quantity. They are aware that shirts for work are in contact with their skin all day and thus they require uncompromising solutions, which means they chose only natural materials that are of better quality.
The approximate price range of our products starts from 5.000 RSD upwards. We also offer in our stores premium brands, such as David & John Anderson, Thomas Mason Journey, REDA, with pure wool shirts that cost approximately 10,000 RSD.
What makes your brand stand out in comparison to your competition?
We are focused on a narrow niche and the standards required by our clientele are quite high. This means that we continuously have to strive to be better in order for our final products to meet expectations for every season.
We have done something new every year to raise the quality we provide and we plan to do that continuously. It may be something that the client does not notice at first glance, but we know the process from the beginning to the end, and the extra effort certainly pays off.
Are you planning any new store openings and where? Do you plan to expand to new countries?
Our plans are currently focused on the online market and we plan to use this sales channel more and more, both in the domestic and foreign markets. We plan to open a salon for VIP clients by the end of the year and the location we have chosen is Vračar.
Our products have already been sold in Japan, Australia, Switzerland and we certainly have a plan to intensify sales outside the Serbian market
What is the typical size of your stores and what locations are interesting for your further expansion?
Our stores have about 60m2, but as the offer of our products expands, we will certainly need slightly larger spaces in the future.
I think that it is good for every brand to be present in shopping centers, as well as on high streets, but in areas that make sense for the brand.
Both locations have their advantages and disadvantages. When the weather is nice outside, people like to take walks and will prefer to visit stores outside the malls. On the other hand, during the winter periods, everyone prefers to go to the malls. Some locations are also a matter of prestige and positioning of the brand, so that could motivate a brand to enter a certain shopping center.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, what forms of marketing do you use?
The pandemic has changed consumer habits so much that we will not go back to the old ways of marketing. Online sales have expanded and shown us their real potential.
Instagram is a very powerful tool that, with a good strategic plan and help from influencers, can make seriously good results.
You operate an eCommerce website, tell us how it has been performing, and do you believe that online shopping will replace the need for physical stores in the future?
We have had serious investments in eCommerce this year and we are looking forward to launching a new website.
In my opinion, online is a great sales channel for customers who are not physically close, for those who do not like wasting time shopping, and for those who are regular customers that already know their sizes and cuts so they can easily decide to buy without trying.
I do not think that online will completely replace physical stores, but it is definitely a serious segment that needs to be invested in and developed as it has real potential. But the shopping experience you get in stores, where you can look around and try on clothes, is in my opinion irreplaceable.
In your opinion how has the retail market changed since the beginning of the pandemic in Serbia?
I think we all feel more comfortable shopping online now than before. The pandemic was a strong enough motivator, which definitely forced a large number of people to switch to the only available shopping option at that time. Then we all realized that buying online is relatively easy, fast, and safe. Retailers also learned that issues regarding product returns and complaints can be solved relatively quickly, which removed the initial fear for online sales. As the pandemic subsided, people continued to shop online, primarily from reputable brands they trusted.
How do you see the future of retail?
I think there will be more room for brands that are innovative, whether it is because of their manufacturing technology, design, or simply due to their company’s mission statement.
I also deeply believe in the success of brands that have a soul and a clear story to express, which should be reflected in every business decision. Such brands are often driven by great enthusiasm and sincere will, which is recognized and supported by customers.