It’s Saturday night and we’re heading over to Arpoador, a hip and happening neighbourhood between Ipanema and Copacabana and the home of some of the coolest things in Rio.
Rony Meisler has invited us to a gig in the Reserva Experience; he said it would give us a good idea of what the Reserva brand is all about.
“It’s a men’s clothing brand, right?” Anouk asks as we walk over from our place on the Lagoa in Ipanema.
“Yes but there’s more to it than that: it’s a lifestyle experience,” I explain. “For them, clothing is a medium through which they can share their beliefs and values.”
“I see,” says Anouk, though I’m not sure she does, “but basically they sell men’s clothes…”
“Rony has great plans to change the world,” I say. “He wants to create new market models and introduce new ways of doing business based on sharing knowledge and experience and building a community. It’s also about personal growth and constantly challenging yourself to think out of the box. It’s kind of cool when you hear him talk about it, you’ll see.”
When we arrive at the Reserva Experience, the place is still quiet. There are a couple of guys hanging out at the bar and three musicians are setting up on a small stage at the back of the space. As soon as we walk in a young guy comes bouncing out from behind the bar. “Boa noite!” he says with an enthusiastic smile, “you must be Anouk and Maarten! I’m Rony, great to meet you!”
He walks over to a vintage fridge that takes pride of place against a bright red wall. “Can I get you a drink?” he asks. As we settle onto a leather sofa with our sodas, the band is starting to tune their instruments.
“So,” says Rony with a smile as he pulls over a low stool and opens a bottle of chilled Devassa beer, “welcome to Reserva!”
“You have a great place here,” says Anouk. “It’s like walking into a friend’s living room! But this isn’t the store, is it?”
“It’s our hangout, it’s where we spend time with friends and friends of friends,” says Rony. “It’s a concept we also apply to our points of sale – they’re more than just stores. We encourage our customers to spend time with us, have a drink, listen to music – we really want to build relationships with our customers and change the way business is done. Open our doors and get rid of the hostile service you often encounter elsewhere.”
“So you’re basically offering a whole new retail concept, not just another clothing brand?” Anouk asks.
“That’s right,” Rony says. “Reserva is a state of mind: it’s about mutual respect, about treating everyone we do business with like fellow human beings. And it’s about being passionate about what we do: think big, take risks, get out of your comfort zone!”
“You could say that it’s a platform for growth then…” says Anouk.
“Yes, you could say that,” says Rony as he takes a swig of his Devassa beer. “Personal growth, but also growth of our movement: since we started in 2006, we have established 26 venues across Brazil, but this is just the beginning. We plan to launch Reserva in the US by the end of 2014, and then go global.
“Do you think the world is waiting for yet another fashion brand?” Anouk asks.
“No, it won’t just be fashion; we want to branch out with a series of brand extensions. In fact, we’ve already started: we just opened a Brazilian burger house here in Rio in partnership with the French chef Claude Troisgros – you should go and check it out!”
The small space is filling up quickly and Rony’s friends are crowding around the small stage. A raucous applause goes up as the band launches into a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover, ‘Around the World’….Anouk looks at me, ‘how appropriate for a brand that wants to conquer the world!’
© 2013 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
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