A historical clothing store of Cefalù, founded in the 50s, over the years Chez Aldo has been able to adapt to changes in the Italian fashion and still offers a wide choice of sought-after clothes from great brands.
What is the history of Chez Aldo?
The shop was opened in 1951 by my mother Valente Elisabetta, daughter of former merchants of Mazara del Vallo. We started with knitwear and only later, from the 60s onwards, introduced the ready-made clothes. In the 60s, in fact, began the great wave of tourism in Cefalù thanks to Village Magique, now known as Club Med. French tourists represented our main clientele: they frequented our shop and sought above all the Italian knitwear. The name of the shop, “Chez Aldo” (“At Aldo’s”) comes from my brother name, Aldo and from the way French girls referred to our shop. And this is how we started working, especially with the Club Med customers. The age of the shop has obviously contributed over time to create a circle of loyal customers both from Cefalù, but also from the surrounding Madonie towns.
What big brands have you dealt with?
Among the brands we had, I particularly remember a very famous Valentino line in the 60s, “Miss V”, which was a very nice and high-quality pret-a-porter. Then many brands succeeded each other over the years, among which there were classics, such as Armani, Armani Jeans, Ferrè, but also Cavalli and Dolce and Gabbana. These great brands of Italian fashion in recent years are particularly appealing to Russian tourists, especially in September and October, and in general to the East-European market, which expresses a strong interest in the Italian style of clothing.
Is it possible to get a prediction about the next collections of the new season?
During the spring-summer period, we dedicate ourselves above all to ceremony clothing: it is our strong point, especially because we offer a wide choice. We have a loyal clientele who relies on us year after year for the choice of clothes for their most important occasions. We dress both young women and ladies, in fact, our clientele goes from about 30 to 60 years old and includes both women and men. Most of the brands we deal with for the ceremony are Musani, Soani, Armani. For the groom we sell above all the classic Armani, but also John Barrit, which is more suitable for younger people.
Concerning the history of Chez Aldo, how did you face the changes in the clothing market in the last years?
At the beginning we used to sell knitwear in the summer: it was not very logical, but we found a product that was very appreciated, especially by the French tourists.
With the passing of time, we adapted to changes in the Italian fashion system, especially with the industrialisation phase. Starting from 1965, in fact, we began to treat fashion at an industrial level, both for men and women. We started with brands that at the time represented great innovation, such as Cori, Happening, Rosier. Then at the end of the 70s, the great designers arrived and started to give indications on the fashion rules; we refer, for example, to the coming of Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino.
Over the last few years, there has been a great evolution in the clothing market, which has emerged with the appearance of outlet villages all over the world and with the popularisation of e-commerce. This meant that the clothing trade went through enormous transformations, especially noticeable for small businesses, for which these new realities represent the main enemies, impossible to compete with.
It is difficult for a small company to enter a global market that is very competitive and where there are real giants. The result of this always was and will be even more in the future, the disappearance of many small businesses both in the city and in the towns.
What is the link between the foreign tourist and the great Italian brands?
Tourists appreciate and look for the great Italian brands: Russians, Germans and French are very attentive to “made in“. A foreigner, if he comes to Italy, wants to buy the Italian product made in Italy. But all the big companies, none excluded, produce their clothes abroad, especially in China and Taiwan, obviously because of the lower costs. It is not easy to change the fashion system overnight, especially in terms of cost-benefit calculation.
Have there been any changes in the relationship between Cefalù and tourism?
Cefalù in the past was a destination for medium-high tourism. In recent years, the tourist expansion has undergone a real diversification: this is evident also from the point of view of clothing and of tourists’ purchases. So, we too, during these 67 years of operation, have tried to adapt ourselves to these changes and therefore to the arrival of different types of customers.