Why Retailers are Buying into Alighieri

Rosh Mahtani graduated from Oxford University and travelled the world. Though not yet exposed to mainstream jewellery-making, its allure provided a welcome diversion from the pressures of finding a professional career. “When I was travelling, I kept reading the Divine Comedy as my safety blanket because I had studied it and I felt like it was something that I knew in a world of very uncertain decisions,” she reflects. “I had always loved jewellery and I did a one-day wax-carving course in Hatton Garden and thought, this is amazing.”

It wasn’t until the 29 year-old designer returned from her travels that she decided to make wax moulds and the idea for Alighieri seeded. The designer employed a caster, a pivotal meeting, and one that she describes as “how it all started,” given he taught her how to recreate jeweled pieces. Gaining the intellectual property of the oldest casters in Hatton Garden - they happen to service Buckingham Palace - future success was a certainty. But, it didn’t all come at once.

Aside from the constant flux from the fashion industry, (“it took a few seasons for retailers to catch on,” she says) the label has been experimenting with materials. “I started casting everything in bronze and plating it in 24 carat gold. Then it became obvious that I was lacking in mid-price point jewellery, where it felt like a forever piece, but it was also semi-accessible.”

The designer has recently introduced a new medium into the stable and has her eyes set on platinum and rough, uncut diamonds. These new elements allow her to experiment on designs whilst expanding the core offering. Understated and always with perfect imperfections, her jewellery is undeniably poetic and luxurious—as much for its relation to Dante Alighieri’s literature, as for the effortlessness it conveys.

In balance, Alighieri may need to regulate pricing however. Whilst some of the designers pieces are classic, including the pendant necklaces which start at £110, others are more elaborate, including editorial favorite the La Collisione Choker with a hand cast, solid sterling silver chain and caps off at £3,500.

Mahtani states that price structuring is all part of the business strategy: “I started making very mid-price point offering, everything began from £210. As the brand grew, I wanted to experiment with bigger editorial pieces. I also noticed that my customer was younger and would save up to buy a £210 necklace. I also made smaller pieces that can make them feel included.”

Mahtani’s strength lies in the fact that she inherently understands her customer and the strategy is solid. The designer includes opinion-leading retailers like Net-a-Porter, MatchesFashion and Selfridges in her retail stable, and sell through has grown to a retail average of 80 percent. Indeed, knowing the deep connection the designer has with the consumer, retail partners often divert to her when making key merchandising decisions.

“They regularly ask me what do you think will go well with this, and I will adjust the offering so that each store can tell their story in a unique way,” Mahtani tells ORDRE. “While stores can carry similar pieces to other retailers, they will always look completely different depending on the combinations and the lengths they chose”.

In addition, part of her success can be credited to the early adoption of Instagram. The medium allows Mahtani to have a more intimate insight to her consumer than other pre-social media brands. When big-name influencers endorse product, the return on investment (ROI) comes to an amount that no emerging label takes for granted.

Alighieri has a steady fan base of 27.2K and influencers such as Camille Charriere, Laura Jackson and Rachael Nguyen are all Alighieri girls. “My customer is sentimental and cares about storytelling, she is open to sharing their story with us. It’s a community of storytellers and Instagram has really helped me launch the brand," she adds.

Reality takes the business in a different direction now that the label is reaching maturity. Mahtani is less focused on gaining accounts and more on deepening the retail buy. “Now it’s really exciting to know the retailers and what each customer wants. We have started to work more closely doing exclusives with different retailers and creating capsules that are more targeted. There are a few things in the pipeline” Mahtani says with a smile.

Watch the ORDRE video interview here: