Thursday, November 13, 2008

American Apparel is coming to Rome.

Why, why, why!

I was reading Jessica’s excellent Rome Photo blog and horror of horrors I saw this post. They are opening a store in Monti.

I guess their practice of only hiring “hot” people will fit in the bel paese. I wonder how their prices will be and who will shop there…locals or tourists?

I never shopped at the stores because the Penthouse circa 1970 advertising got on my freaking nerves. To me the store is the retail version of Girls Gone Wild. I wonder if Joe Francis and Dov Charney (the CEO) are friends. The latter is being sued for the 5th time for sexual harassment.

I agree with Jessica. One thing I love about Rome is that there isn’t a Gap or a Starbucks on every corner. Each block is unique and has flavor. I’m not against all globalization. I was very happy to hear Origins might open a store here.

The problem is when these stores multiply and push out the local places. If Starbucks wanted to open at the airport, that would be a good idea right? But you know it wouldn’t stop there. They have completely oversaturated the American market which why they had to lay off thousand of employees and close hundreds of store. Now they are aggressively pushing their overseas expansion. They have to in order to keep those stock prices up.

Although they are expanding all over Europe, they have yet to open a store in Italy. The founder of Starbucks got the idea from going to coffee bars in Milan. At first, when the company was smaller, he saw the stores as a place where Americans can come together, since we are so disconnected as a culture. Once the stores became very successful they moved away from their mission statement.

Opening a Starbucks here would be like bringing sand to the beach. Their market research showed they would take a bath in Italy. I'm not surprised. The culture here is very different. McDonalds coming here made sense. A fake expensive coffee chain with bad coffee? Not so much.

There are places in Rome where you can get a coffee and read/meet like at the Feltrinelli book store at Largo Argentina. One friend took me to a great place which of course I can't remember the name, where there were books, wine and coffee. It's near the Trevi Fountain. We don't need a Starbucks.

Why is AA opening in Monti? It’s such a great neighborhood with unique stores. The store should be next to the Disney store on Via del Corso along with all the other big international retail stores.

34 comments:

Jessica said...

Thanks for this post. The store is in full swing and will be opening soon. Funnily enough I mentioned this to a friend of mine who is a designer and she said that the store has been generating a lot of buzz with young Italians. Sure enough, the store in Monti even has its own MySpace page where tons of Italians are commenting that they can't wait until it arrives. I'm not so hot on the pseudo porno advertising either (I mean, aren't they just selling t-shirts!) and even though I don't shop there, I don't have anything perse against the brand, I just wish it was somewhere on the via del Corso where there are more chain stores. As for Starbucks, I would pass out if I saw it here. Coffee is such serious business here I would really really be shocked if something like that ever happened. Why would Italians go to Starbucks when they can go to their local bar for something even more delicious and cheaper?

Petulia said...

Bonjour early morning writers!
It is so nice to read your posts and keep updated with what goes on in my favorite Roman rione. Too bad this means hearing about AA. They are in the Marais and Left bank here is Paris, so I guess they really look for the hip neighborhoods of the city when picking a location.
Missing you and Rome!

Diana said...

I guess they figure that stores like Zara are spread out in big style, so why not cut into the upper piece of that pie. They are going to get a boost from the election's good will as well. I will probably still continue to fashion shop at the outdoor markets :)

High fashion sometimes reminds me of catholic school -- the uniforms of the overly hip.

Starbucks are replicating from Switzerland north -- although they are not doing nearly the sales they had hoped for. Seems people don't like 1. the paper cups 2. the ridiculously overpriced coffee 3. Europeans don't really like walking on the street while drinking a coffee and downing breakfast and talking on the phone. They just like walking and talking on the phone.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jessica - If the store was on Via del Corso I wouldn't care but something about it being in Monti irks me. I'd rather see a J. Crew. At least that style of clothing is different. AA is just t-shirts. :) Also I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the clothes. I don't think the quality is all that and I really HATE the advertising/sleazy vibe. I can't get with the Dov. Regarding Starbucks we'll see. I can't imagine them opening everywhere in Europe except here. Then again they would have to change their fake Italian names. ha.

petulia - Miss you too. I read AA is planning to open aggressively overseas. Your rione is going to become even more crowded.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

diana - I wonder how the Starbucks are doing in Paris? In my neighborhood you see baristas walking around with trays of espresso to stores. No paper cups. I don't see a chain being able to do that.

The pricing will have to change. It's one thing to pay a lot of $$$ for a Big Mac. It's unique but a cup of coffee? Please.

AA is very smart. They know their markets and I can see teen/and twenty somethings going nuts over this "hip" new store.

Jessica said...

I actually read a really great article a few years ago about why Starbucks could never succeed in Italy, I'll try to see if I can dig it up. From what I've seen in Paris they are doing quite well, but then again, you already pay an insane amount for a coffee at a bar in Paris, so it's not too far off from their norm.

Kim B. said...

Too funny-- of course immediately I thought about how they're (Starbucks, not AA, although I just passed the Left Bank AA the other day) doing here in Paris . . .which is quite well. I've clipped a couple of articles i've seen recently -- now I've got to dig them up and post on them!

I don't know the AA ads . . had never seen or heard of AA until I went to California to visit my brother and his family. So will have to check that out as well. Sounds icky. The stores just look so garish.

Kim B. said...

Okay, here's what Le Figaro had to say sometime in October (I ripped out the article so not sure of the date!). Starbucks just opened its 46th French store, in Versailles, and they intend to have 200 stores by five years from now. Elsewhere in France, there are two stores in Lyon. The new director of Starbucks France said, "We could open in Nantes (Brittany) tomorrow, but we want to resist temptation," i.e. not get caught in opening too many too soon.

Starbucks has only been in France for four years - they have grown fast. They did 4 million euros' worth of business here in 2004 -- and 36.6 million in 2007!

I will just say anytime I've been in a Starbucks here (and I was in one on Monday, the first time I've been since moving back this time, but used to stop in periodically as they put one in my old neighborhood in 2005), they've always been packed -- with French people, not tourists. I mean, there are tourists there too, but by and large, you see large tables of high school kids or a bit older sitting and hanging out together. I'm surprised at how well they've done but people enjoy them here.

My (Italian) husband would say that's because French coffee is terrible anyway, so how do they know any better?!!

: )

Starbucks in Italy --- now that I can NOT imagine!

J,Doe said...

I think that any store opening is good. After all, that brings jobs. I've not been to Rome in a long time but I don't think the unemployment rate is %0. Somebody will benefit from a new store.
I've never been to one of those stores but if judging from what I read that they sell overpriced Tshirts, why shouldn't the Romans be allowed to buy them too?
And if Starbucks with their nasty coffee wants to open a store, then I'm OK with that. Initially they will get a crowd of people who wan to taste the 'american' espresso and then due to it's horrible taste and high prices will fail.

Ms. Wooden Shoes said...

I moved to Holland almost 10 years and, and constantly lamented the absence of Starbucks. Despite the fact that Holland is home of Starbucks' European headquaters and distribution, the first 3 Starbucks (all in Schipol Airport)were opened a little over a year ago. There is talk about putting them in train stations as well.

Kim b, I must say that whenever I'm in Paris I make it a point to get to one of the area Starbucks (and I agree with your husband about the vileness of French coffee). But when I'm in Italy, it's all about the local places, so I'm thinking Starbucks shouldn't even try to establish a presence there.

glamah16 said...

Shopping abroad is no no longeer interesting for me, because of stores like thses popping up everywhere , which I can get at home.Show me the local designers and artisians. I would never even consider shopping in those type of stores. I hate those chain retailers where you see your self dressed like everyone else.It started as a teenager when I used to see those damn Benneton stores everywhwere.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jessica - Everyone I know complains about the coffee in France. Is it that bad/expensive?

kim b - wow. 200 hundred stores? Clearly they are making money. Maybe they will learn from their American mistakes and not over expand.

j. doe - there was a store there before so not sure how many new jobs AA is bringing to Monti. I hope the pay is decent. My issue is more with where the store is and what it replaced. I was not a fan of Starbucks in the States so you can imagine how I would feel if one opened in my area. ha.

ms. wooden shoes - when I was in Holland visiting my cousins many years ago, I went to MickyD's because I was curious about the whole mayo with fries thing. :) Is there much of a coffee culture in Holland?

glamah16 - I remember the height of the Bennetton craze in the late 80s. Every girl at my college had those sweaters with the big "B" on them. They weren't cheap. There was even a store near our campus. Someone said the WSJ reported that branch had the most sales per square foot in the country. I had a few Bennetton things (not the "B" sweater) but this hideous green and white rugby shirt. Really, a curvy woman like me had no business wearing horizontal stripes. I'm with you about traveling and shopping. I like going to the local stores.

Ms. Wooden Shoes said...

There is a coffee culture here in Holland. There are little quaint cafes all over where the locals enjoy going to sit and have a nice cup of coffee and apple gebak (apple cake) or other pastry. As a result, there isn't much appreciation for coffee-to-go. I, on the other hand, very much appreciate coffee-to-go and desperately miss it.

Jessica said...

The store was a jeweler which now has closed. My point is that stores like this can afford higher rent that push out the small mom and pop family businesses that Italy thrives on. These are jobs lost and I know things need to move forward in Italy in order for it to thrive, I just don't want the entire world to become homogenous. Well said Glamah, give me the local designers any day. In defense of Benetton, I will say. That is a locally owned Italian business. The Benetton's are a family from Treviso and actually sponsor a basketball team and Olympic training facility there. When I was studying abroad in Padova we actually visited the Benetton foundation headquarters. So I guess that's an example of family business gone international. Funny though because they've totally disappeared from the US (at least in New England), while they are everywhere here.

Ms. Wooden Shoes said...

And oh yeah, can't get with the fries with mayo. I just shell out the 25 euro cents and get ketchup.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

ms. wooden shoes - thanks for getting back to me. I was so busy gawking over the whole "teahouse" situation I didn't notice. I had just graduated from college and it was my first trip to Europe. I didn't actually buy anything in said teahouses.

jessica - There was a Benetton at Century City mall in L.A. I think they are still in NYC but you're right they really downsized after the early 90s. Their ads used to be everything. I see them as a store for the youngins so I haven't been inside one since moving here. Good point about the rents going up. I'm torn. Italy can't stay in the past but when is the cost of globalization too high?

fashion survivor said...

Monti must have really changed a lot since I lived there six years ago! I am not a huge fan of AA either--I find it hard to buy T-shirts when I have to deal with male salespeople wearing super short gym shorts. Ugh.

My favorite store in Italy is Ethic, or at least it was back then. I still have a red winter coat from back then, and a great pair of pants that I'll have to lose a few pounds to fit into. Do they still have cool stuff?

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Well, I must have been living under a rock cuz I ain't ner heard of no American Apparel. Boh. But, I will add my two cents on Starbucks, seeing as how I now hail from its birthplace. I absolutely believe that Starbucks would make a killing with tourists in the big cities, and I honestly believe it would attract Italians as well. I've taken informal polls several times with Italians and they've all told me they liked Starbucks when they went abroad because it offered them what the CEO of Starbucks calls the "third place" (cheesy but he has a point). In Rome there aren't really many places you can take a book or your laptop and just hang out, read, write, or study. This is a problem for foreign students used to places like this, and would be a welcome addition for many Italians as they have told me. I'm not saying anything on the coffee, it totally is like bringing sand to the beach. But the concept, it could do well, I think. Also because there are way too many tourists who just eat McDonald's their whole time in Rome because they don't have to deal with unfamiliar stuff, and Starbucks would be another one of those "safe havens" for tourists, I really believe this.

Faith said...

Ugh Charbucks!! A 97% drop in profit after flooding every corner with crap. I recall how the coffee tasted way better 8 years ago. They haven't infiltrated Amsterdam yet either - perhaps the pot has something to do with it. I don't like AA. I do love Origins - specifically Gloomaway products. I miss the time of less consumerism and a more stable economy.

Faith said...

I didn't read the comments - so they've taken over Amsterdam too - ARGH! Well I was there in 2003 and so glad to not see one anywhere.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

fashion survivor - yes Monti has changed even from when I visited three years ago. I haven't been inside Ethic, I try not to tempt myself. However from window shopping I can tell they do have nice, interesting clothes. I went the AA store on Roberston Blvd. in L.A. The wanna be actors with the short shorts were too much for me.

shelley - I wonder why the market research for Italy said Starbucks would fail here, because I assumed with all the tourists and younger Italians they could make a profit. Maybe because Italy unlike France is really known for their coffee? That the idea for Starbucks came from Italy and basically it's an Americanized version of the Italian bar culture?That said I don't understand tourists who only eat at Micky D because it's familiar. I just don't, esp. in a place like Italy which has great food. I read on Michelle's blog that there was an Italian company who was opening some coffee bar/cafes where people can meet. Regarding foreign students, they need to look a little harder. There are wifi places opening all around here. There is one bar across the street from me and I see people with their laptops drinking wine in there all the time. I guess I'm hyper sensitive about big global companies coming and ruined the flavor of a place after seeing how much St. Martin has changed and not for the better.

faith - The company is more about the brand (selling books, movies and for a while even developing movies) then about good coffee these days. During a good economy people don't mind spending five-ten bucks a day on fancy coffee drinks but now?

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

faith - p.s. I love Gloomaway too.

If Origins opens here I will be in the store opening day :)

michelle of bleeding espresso said...

Ah, living in rural southern Italy truly is bliss sometimes. I've only heard of AA in passing from my mom since I've lived here--I don't know if it wasn't around, or just wasn't as mainstream when I lived in the US, but I completely missed that boat. And I have a feeling it'll be a *long* time before I can catch it in Calabria.

No worries ;)

morenachica said...

Hello there just came across your blog from the expat talk site. I've been in Italy now for 2 years in Tuscan Country.. Just to add in my 2 cents I think I would faint also if I was to see a starbucks in Italy.. Italians are so into there coffee I just can't imagine it.. now I will say I wouldn't mind seeing a gap or old navy in Italy :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

michelle - ha. you're not missing much. If you really need to get an AA shirt, I bet they will be in Southern Italian city very soon.

morenachica - thanks for stopping by. I would like to see the Canadian store Club Monaco open a store here. Another favorite is Dylan Lauren's Candy Bar. I thought she was going to open one in London. Maybe it's for the best there isn't one here. I really don't need to eat any more candy.

morenachica said...

It would be nice to Dylans Lauren Candy Store, but then again I agree with you I eat too much now in Italy and I don't need anything extra to add on.. Plus with Natale around the corner and you know how they eat all day and I'm right along with them, it's hard to refuse all that good food.
I used to travel a lot to NYC and stayed off and on there and have a best friend who lives in On Ocean ave near Flatbush Ave and I'm there every summer.. whereabout are you from in the NYC area? I miss my domincian hair salons ;)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

morenachica - I used to live on 22nd and 2nd in Manhattan. I miss my hair dresser Fatima who used to work at Ellin LaVar. I'm still looking for a hairdresser here. I'll post once I find "the one". I have another place to check that someone recommended. We'll see.

morenachica said...

You are funny , "The One", well I go to a local stylist here and actually they do a good job, they use the roller brush method minus the very hot hair dryers but it gets my hair straight enough it'll have to do and for 19 euros it isn't bad. But let me know.. You know I work in la spezia and there are tons of domicians there and when I say tons I mean tons I'll have to ask around.. I've just never had the time to stop and ask..

by the way I understand about the country house thing.. I'd love ot stay up north near the alps in Sondrio where i can have my farmhouse it's my dream and I'm going to get it!!!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

morenchica - Thanks for asking. You can reach me via email through my Flickr page (look toward the bottom of my blog) if you find someone who can work with a short natural.

I have 4b hair. I stopped using relaxers 11 years ago. So I need a stylish who works with natural hair. That has been hard to find. Either they only do relaxing, weaves or braids. I went to someone in L.A. who specialized in chemical free hair, she could do twists, braids. blow outs etc. and she cared about the health of her clients' hair.

Los Angelista said...

Ugh, American Apparel. My eldest did some modeling for them for their kids line about six years ago. I had no idea about their rep at the time. I wish they'd just go away.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

los angelista - sorry but they are actually expanding like crazy.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Paris was to me what Rome is to you, although I never realized my dream of living there.

I was so disappointed to go back to my favorite neighborhood to vacation there for a week in 2000 and see nothing but Old Navy, American Eagle, etc. It was so sad.

I truly hope that Rome doesn't follow...

morenachica said...

Hey there I didnt see the link to where I could send you an email or get your email address9 I probably over looked it knowing me) but just send me your email at my cell number 3341283016 I dont mind posting my numbers I can always screen calls and sms :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jen - wow I had no idea those stores were in Paris. I'm curious to see what the customer service is like.

morenachia - got it.