Luxury brand Stefano Ricci evolved from a tie manufacturing firm into a full-spectrum luxury lifestyle brand, on the basis of serious investment in research and craftbased expertise. After a strong retail footprint of 43 stores across the globe the brand recently opened its first store in Mumbai, India at the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel.
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR caught up with the founder Stefano Ricci whose mission is to design garments for the wardrobe of a man who already has everything.
In 1972 a young man named Stefano Ricci set out to exhibit a small collection of ties at the Pitti Immagine Uomo fashion exhibition in Florence. The innovative, yet very classic nature of his patterns caught everyone’s eyes. He had managed to elevate the tie from a simple accessory to a real protagonist of menswear. Moving ahead he launched the Stefano Ricci shirt collection in 1980. The common thread that linked the ties and the shirts was – hand cut, close control on manufacturing, top quality materials and exclusive designs.
In 1993, after reinforcing the brand’s presence in the US, Stefano opened its first mono-brand store in Shanghai, at a time when China was still getting acquainted with high-fashion. Jackets, suits, sportswear and fragrance followed in 1997 and the rest is history. Did he ever anticipate that the brand would one day be synonymous with luxury? “Life can play any kind of joke on you. It took a lot of hard work, passion and a team of people to get here. Some of my competitors were my icons. But they were not lucky to have a change of generation as I did,” explains Ricci. His two sons by their own choice are extremely involved in the business. That continuity gave extra energy to Ricci’s venture.
Today the company is run by Stefano Ricci, his wife Claudia and his two sons Niccolo (CEO) and Filippo (creative director). Being a family held company is a matter of immense pride and satisfaction to the patriarch. “I had incredible offers to sell my company to big groups. But I never accepted them. These companies are forced by investors to dole out huge profits at the cost of quality. That’s what happened to my competitors and they lost their mission. I am in a beautiful position where there aren’t too many competitors focussed on quality.”
Quality is of paramount importance for Ricci who even now, after 40 years is still excited about finding the thinnest yarn available and exploring new colouring systems. The yarn is woven at the lowest possible speed to avoid any extra stress for the fibre. And just before the finishing of the cloth Ricci removes it from production and keeps it in a room to “decant” it like wine, in order to recover all the sense of the natural fibre. A proponent of all things ‘handmade’ Ricci believes that anything made with hands resonates with an energy that cannot be found in technology aided production. “Something made with so much passion and care cannot be put on sale. It’s like discounting passion,” reasons the 65-year-old founder who has a unique style of working. Instead of hiring a young workforce Stefano invested in masters to craft his shirts and ties. These masters then took on young apprentice to pass the skill sets. “Hiring old people ensured that I learnt a lot from them. That was a good way to start and we continue that practise even today. Some of the young employees have been with us for almost 38 years and are now masters. They are an invaluable asset to the company. I have learnt from them how to select and appreciate beautiful skin (crocodile and calf) with my eyes closed,” says Ricci. Creating his own fabric for shirts, ties and suits still remains one of his greatest passions. The extreme pursuit of perfection motivated the company to...