Luxury International Trader’s extensive storefront on top fashion boulevard Laurinská Street in the heart of Bratislava offers a window into a world of haute couture and luxury lifestyles. It is aimed at an aspirational jet set, which is why it is frequently profiled in the in-flight magazines of the airlines serving the Slovakian capital. Its owner and managing director, Alessio Ballerini, is proud of what he has created in what was previously something close to a fashion desert.
“I was the first in Bratislava to have the faith to bring the big fashion designers to the Slovakian capital and am seen as a trendsetter in my own right – where I have led, others have followed,” he says. “I opened the Luxury International Trader boutique in 2012 and have seen the business grow continuously ever since.”
The entrepreneur’s success in Bratislava is no mere flash in the pan or beginner’s luck. He has been involved in the fashion sector for 20 years and cut his teeth on his own venture in Switzerland when he took over the SMLXL Zurich fashion store in one of Europe’s most fashionable cities in 2009.
“SMLXL Zurich is more sporty casual in its style,” says Mr. Ballerini. “With Luxury International Trader I wanted to target the high end fashion market.” With a portfolio of brands that includes Saint Laurent Paris, Givenchy, Celine, Balenciaga, Moncler, Thom Browne, Fendi and Tom Ford, Mr. Ballerini has put together names that will always be the height of fashion.
“Fashion is a fickle master so I have tried to put together a well-balanced portfolio of brands,” says Mr. Ballerini. “When one brand goes down in popularity, you can be sure another will be in the ascendency. Thanks to my fantastic contacts within the fashion industry, Luxury International Trader has one of the most attractive collections of up-to-the-minute fashions available anywhere in Slovakia.”
This is the key to success in the fashion retail sector – stocking the on-trend pieces that everyone suddenly has to have because a celebrity or Instagram star was seen wearing it. “Fashion moves incredibly fast these days which is why it is such a dynamic and exciting environment in which to work,” says Mr. Ballerini. “With experience comes a feeling for what will sell. My grandfather was a tailor with his own shop. Fashion is in my blood.”
Luxury International Trader stocks both ladies and menswear. Its regular customers are Bratislava’s wealthy elite as well as a growing number of business travellers. “They can find the same brands as in Milan or Paris,” says Mr. Ballerini. “We are also putting Bratislava on the map with well-heeled tourists from Asia.”
The success of the boutique means that Mr. Ballerini is already planning to open a second store in Bratislava by the end of the year. “This time, we will focus on accessories and shoes in a historical building,” the entrepreneur says. “I act very much on instinct and it is telling me to follow my dreams – you only get one chance in life.”