Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Last Fall, Canali opened the doors to its latest Madison Avenue flagship store, filled with elevated forms and customer-centric functions for an all-new retail experience. Developed with the architects of Park Associati, the space features rich materials like Pietra Serena stone floors and Cipollino marble fixtures play with contrasts, a site-specific art installation by the renowned Italian artist duo Goldschmied & Chiari, a curated bookshelf, original lighting concepts, and a sophisticated bar and lounge. Here, Canali stretches beyond the lanes of luxury garments and accessories to offer a heightened lifestyle destination to its New York audience.
New to the space is a "Me by Canali" section, which is central to the boutique's functions. Conceived as a hybrid space between a shop and a Milanese home, it immerses guests in a warm space filled with important codes of the brand—including luxury, craftsmanship, and Italian identity. Wooden wall panels feature a hand-applied metallic pattern, recalling tailoring stitches that double as a space for artworks to be hung. Handwoven wool carpets line the ground, guiding VIPs from shelves to seating arrangements.
"The Madison boutique premieres our new store concept worldwide that focuses on customer experience with a more lifestyle approach," CEO Stefano Canali told Whitewall. "We wanted a welcome destination that could be a hybrid space between a very modern and functional boutique and an elegant Milanese home that could perfectly display our collections while becoming a vehicle for the most important characteristics of our brand: Italianity, luxury, and craftsmanship."
Curious about other sartorial details that are borrowed from dress for the design of the space, Whitewall continued its conversation with Canali about how its new store on Madison Avenue welcomes guests to heritage and contemporary adaptations all at once.
WHITEWALL: Canali’s new Madison Avenue store can harness its community beyond the traditional shopping experience. How might this be done through design, art installations, or upcoming programming?
STEFANO CANALI: The Canali Madison Avenue flagship functions as an intentionally convertible space meant not just for a traditional shopping experience, but also for an intimate, home-like respite for customers in search of a piece of Italy. Central to the design of the store is the “Me by Canali” room with a fully stocked Italian bar furnished in soft, sumptuous materials for reading, relaxing, and various in-store events and showcases. The first episode will be an art installation by artist duo Goldschmied & Chiari of special mirrored works hung to “reflect” the new store concept. Future programming will include amongst others, an array of wine tasting, book launches, and exclusive “Me by Canali” events.
WW: What materials does the new space feature that bring a sense of warmth and home to an otherwise cold retail box?
SC: The new store concept is devoid of any traditional retail tropes and has an exceptional hand feel to every detail. Cipollino Marble (used by the Ancient Romans) shows two different finishes combined with one another, wood panels have intricate internal geometries and metal elements which look at piping for inspiration. Pietra Serena flooring recalls Italian private courtyards. Not to mention the handwoven carpets, the leather sofas, or the soft green velvet curtains and armchairs. But these are only the ingredients. The recipe to convey the sense of warmth and hospitality is the concept itself, where a spotlight on product comes secondary to the emotive experience of entering the world of Canali.
WW: Canali was founded in 1934, rooted in the experience of luxury men’s tailoring. How would you describe its DNA, which continues to resonate with the public?
SC: 100 percent of our production is made in Italy and 70 percent is produced inhouse. This allows us to guarantee that our brand’s key values such as quality, excellence, craftsmanship are at the heart of everything we do.
Passion for the well-made, the attention to detail, the desire to do things well. And I am not just talking about how we make our products but also about the way we do business. About care and respect for the customer who decides to buy our garments, for the people who work for us, for the community. The success of a company like Canali is based on the fusion of two inseparable elements that have been consolidated and strengthened over the years: work culture and a sense of belonging.
WW: The ethos of Canali has remained the same, but it has evolved. How would you describe its contemporary message?
SC: Our advertising campaign is the perfect representation of how we see ourselves today, the most tangible expression of our way of being, the masculinity that we define.
The concept revolves around “Inner Beauty”, where beauty is intended in the broadest sense of the term and celebrated for both its intrinsic and extrinsic values. We look to a renewed form of gentleman, essential today, in challenging political and social times. A man of calm determination, who is assertive but respectful, who chooses composure over noise, dialogue over monologue, who is confident also when it comes to embracing his emotions. We are projecting our values onto this concept of masculinity.
During the pandemic, everyone had the chance to reassess their values, integrity, and what is important, emotions, the warmth heartfelt non-formal gestures as an expression of a true and genuine feeling.
WW: How do you feel the idea of the modern man's wardrobe has changed? How does this demand impact what’s produced?
SC: Demand has evolved significantly over the last few years as men are less predictable, less conservative, and more open to innovation.
We have embraced these changes while remaining authentic to our roots, brand values and sartoriality. Tailoring is evolving, exchanging fits, construction, fabrics, and details with casualwear. We are seeing a hybridization between the two. Men are looking for softness, lightness, and deconstruction. The wardrobe has become more transversal, we are seeing our customers mix items daily that they were only wearing for special occasions, this creates a seamless offer and thus more choices for the consumer. There is also more a responsible approach to consumption
“Me by Canali” is an example of how consumer demand—like customization and unique product—is reconciled with the possibility of reducing waste.
WW: What are your personal favorite go-to Canali pieces?
SC: Our Kei jacket as an iconic proposition—futuristic at the time of its launch 15 years ago and still relevant today. A jacket that, apart from a sheet of canvas, has been completely cleared of everything. No extra stiffening layers, no shoulder pads. The ultimate expression of tailoring through massive emptying, a sartorial masterpiece of perfect construction since it keeps its impeccable shape without any support.
Then, there is the Shacket—a further extreme of lightness and deconstruction and an emblem of our ability to create garments with a challenging execution.