Arie Fabian is sitting in Balducci’s eating a toasted mozzarella sandwich while he waits for the waitress to bring him his Coco-Pops. She’s had to walk over to the Pick ‘n Pay to get them for him. Meanwhile his cellphone is surgically attached to his ear, into which he says things like, “Hey Kimberly, please send Frank a birthday message from Fabiani. Also, would you make sure you’re keeping all the birthdays in a spreadsheet…”
Looking impeccable in his Fabiani two felt cotton shirt, stretched wool suit and black patent shoes, Arie is the epitome of the well dressed man. With a taste for the quirky, Arie will only wear pink socks and instead of a tie has opted for accessories that peek out from his open collar shirt. There’s a Sun Kanji, Israeli paratrooper necklace, which his dad also wears, some sort of pendant with a symbol stamped onto it, which has something to do with love, and on a red string are a pair of porcelain beads – a Chinese luck symbol. Arie also wears a wrist band to banish any negative energy.
“I always buy a bunch of these and then give them away,” he says, pulling at the bracelet. “I don’t often wear a watch, but was given a 1970s Omega that I wear on special occasions.”
Arie likes to keep his clothing simple and he’d rather buy less but buy right. Unlike his father who loved the variety and depth of clothing, Arie prefers to simplify his wardrobe. Just then a man in a good looking shirt walks past and Arie stops him saying, “Excuse me, sir, but would you please tell me where you bought your shirt?” It’s a Fabiani, and of course Arie already knows this. “It looks good on you,” says Arie, and the man walks off with his head held just a little bit higher.
“Understanding the customer is everything,” says Arie. “It’s so important to keep a finger on the pulse. The most powerful form of advertising is when someone advocates your product. Traditional advertising can’t compete with this viral approach, and if someone is happy with a purchase they tend to tell other people about it, which carries far more weight than a billboard.”
This is Arie’s goal, to transfer his passion onto his customers who in turn become brand ambassadors. And although Fabiani has dressed everyone from the old political regime to the new; a fair share of rugby players, cricketers and footballers; A-listers like Robbie Williams and Ewan McGregor; and even the likes of Arthur Brown and Tony Yengeni, who were hoping to mask their criminality in finery; it’s the everyday customers who keep coming back for more, which pleases Arie the most.
“It’s not just about selling a product, but selling the passion, making a man feel better about himself. Giving him confidence. Empowering him,” says Arie as he finishes up the last of his Coco-Pops.
He then walks back up to his Waterfront store as he talks into his cellphone, something about calling the Italian supplier and then a second call from a customer who’s feeling listless. Arie tells him not to worry, that he’ll make an appointment with his GP for a vitamin B12 injection. The next call he makes is to his GP…