Close your eyes for a moment and picture walking down the piazza, cappuccino in one hand and a gelato in the other, on a summer day in the middle of Italy. You walk past a luxury storefront that beckons you in, and once you’re inside you see all the gorgeous designer pieces you’ve been looking for on your European vacation. Prada, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Fendi-all in one boutique location. It doesn’t overwhelm you with overbearing sales clerks or wrong ill-fitting sizes, it’s the one place that gives you a luxury European shopping experience with European retail prices, imported directly from Italy. Now open your eyes. You don’t have to head abroad to get insider access into Italian leather, designer name brands and a curated selection of elegance, it’s already here with the online luxury goods marketplace, italist!
italist was created by Diego Abba who’s career in the fine goods marketplace has taken him to Vientam, Belgium, Europe and most recently Los Angeles for a variety of clients. italist began in Silicon Valley in 2014 as Diego discovered an opportunity within the existing retail market for bargain designer shopping. Leveraging his vast experience, Diego launched italist in 2014, turning his passion for accessible Italian luxury fashion into his latest venture. With offices in Los Angeles and Europe, italist began as a way to bring Italy’s amazing luxury shopping experience and luxury designer pieces (most of which are actually hand made in Italy) accessible to customers worldwide. Through the innovative site, customers can purchase brand-new, in-season, completely authentic items at the Italian retail price, which is typically lower than retail prices around the world, equating to a savings of 30-40%. I can hear my credit card getting excited already!
“We love combining tech and luxury fashion, which are two worlds that have traditionally been at odds. But with each innovation and instance of cross-pollination, they’re growing closer together, becoming more synonymous and complementary” says Diego Abba. Is in-store shopping a thing of the past? We think so. Sure it’s wonderful to try before you buy, but when it comes to luxury goods, there’s a reason the price tag reflects the craftsmanship-they’re exquisitely hand made and designed, and whether you see that in a store or in person, these brands speak for themselves.
LAFM sat down with CEO of italist Diego Abba to learn all about the luxury goods marketplace we’re all dying to shop at-check it out below! #italistdoesitbetter
LAFM: Diego, after checking out italist I can say I’m already a huge fan and cannot wait to shop, but I think we’d all love to hear your story and how you created italist, can you tell us about that?
Diego Abba: Fashion has always been part of my life, starting as early as age 4, when I wore my first tailored jacket. Growing up in Venice, Italy, it was part of the culture to attend more formal parties and dressing up was an integral part of life.
For the past 20 years I have worked within the fashion or technology and media industries, from my time starting at Bain and Company to my recent previous role as CEO for a technology company in Newport Beach. When I was on the board of a world-leading luxury knitwear company, working with several of the most relevant luxury fashion houses, I realized the incredible potential that existed within the luxury sector.
italist bridges two worlds that are completely apart and often have difficulties understanding each other—technology and luxury goods. When I look at Silicon Valley, I see their difficulties in comprehending and investing in luxury while the fashion industry is still far from fully embracing technology. italist is bridging these two worlds, we create an innovative value proposition for shoppers by offering an incredible product selection, price advantage, and speedy logistics.
LAFM: How does italist stand apart from others on the market, say Intermix or Net-a-Porter?
Diego Abba: Shopping with italist brings the wide luxury selection—over 1,000 brands, not just Italian ones—and unique curatorial excellence of Italian retail buyers to your home. We’re very passionate about Italian fashion, design, and quality, and are proud to be the only online store dedicated to virtual shopping “as if on the streets of Italy.” Our aim is to combine the Italian buyers’ point-of-view from the best luxury multi-brand stores in Italy with the convenience to buy from home or from your smartphone, at the best price in the world. No more queues at the airport for VAT refunds, no more complications on custom declarations and payments—once we can travel again.
We’re very proud of this innovative model and of our ability to offer excellent deals to savvy consumers. This is confirmed by the customers who regularly come back to buy on italist.com over and over.
LAFM: italist is such a fun place to shop, I love that you are giving a personalized Italian shopping experience, virtually. How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted italist? It sounds like you guys were ahead of the curve as far as a digital shopping experience!
Diego Abba: COVID-19 has only accelerated the move toward e-commerce, and because our business is online-native, we were well-prepared for the shift. 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year all around, but the emphasis on safe, at-home shopping has indeed helped italist grow and evolve. We are continuously working to improve the shopping experience, as much now as ever before, to serve our users.
LAFM: What’s next for italist, where do you see the company in the next year to 5 years?
Diego Abba: italist recently launched Kids and we are widening our selection of luxe eyewear available on the site. Next year and beyond, you will see us continuing to expand our offerings and adding new categories of luxury items, not only apparel, still all directly shopped from Italy. The country is the richest retail market in the world for multi-brand luxury boutique shopping, and we are very excited to be bringing even more verticals for our consumers to shop, and in the process becoming a full luxury lifestyle authority.
Additionally, we’re especially proud that at italist we’re working to offset the environmental impact of our business by making our packaging as green and low-waste as possible. We’re committed to reinvesting a portion of our profits back into the local community where we’re based (Los Angeles) by supporting educational programs for children and young adults.
To shop til you literally drop, check out italist’s website here: www.italist.com