Tuscan tale: Niccolo Ricci on the emotions of business dressing
It’s only natural for a brand inspired by Savile Row to follow in the footsteps of the craftsmen who call the iconic Mayfair location their place of business.
Florence-based Stefano Ricci, launched in 1972, began operations with a collection of ties. Now, with over 40 stores worldwide (including one at a secret location at Las Vegas’ Shops at Crystals for the world’s most noted celebrities, businessmen and royalty, and another, opened only last year, at Mayfair, which set the company back by five million pounds), Stefano Ricci is well recognised as the name to turn to for ultra-luxury apparel and accessories, from crocodile leather shoes to diamond-encrusted gold belts.
Their only store in India, at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace hotel, now holds the brand’s Autumn/Winter collection of leather jackets, cardigans made with a mix of leather and fur, and skillfully crafted bags, wallets and other essentials. We catch up with CEO Niccolo Ricci, son of founder Stefano, who tells us more.
Who would you describe as the ideal Stefano Ricci man?
We have always closely followed the search for quality, creating the best accessories and menswear, and making a strong point through true ‘Made in Italy’ production. We are fortunate to have been dressing important customers since the ’70s, beginning with successful businessmen, who want to express their lifestyle in their appearance as well as those who always look for unique garments for their own pleasure. When they approach the boutique, they search for emotion.
How do you think your brand is received in India?
We have been very close to the Indian world since the company’s founding. We have had Indian clients in London, Paris and New York, and in recent years, their number has notably risen. The first wardrobe element that they appreciated was the Stefano Ricci pure silk shirt. Surely, today our brand is recognised as one of the most exclusive in the world, especially after the opening of the Taj (Mahal Palace), Mumbai boutique in 2014, which allowed us to come into direct contact with the tastes of India’s best clients.
How is the collection curated for India?
We present an international mix for a clientele that is accustomed to travelling around the world. Our bespoke services are always available to satisfy all of our clients’ requests, to create unique garments. Of course, the colours of the collection respect the demands of the market.
Tell us about the Autumn/Winter collection.
Stefano Ricci is a summa of tailoring and tradition. In the Fall/Winter 2017-18 collect-ion, there is an emphasis on luxury jeans, cool and comfortable sneakers, fitted and dynamic two-button jackets, precious cufflinks, and sophisticated knitwear that is distinguished by the addition of exclusive leathers and furs. A particular material is the soft, waterproof technical silk that allows one to dress comfortably, yet elegantly. As for colours, the collection tends towards sober and classic tones, such as a turtleneck sweater in tune with the colour of undergrowth.
Name some of the key products from the Fall / Winter collection?
Formalwear continues to be a key category in the Fall/Winter 2017-18 collection, especially the classic dinner jackets using exclusive textile from the Antico Setificio Fiorentino (a historic silk weaving workshop owned by Stefano Ricci).
How is Italian heritage reflected in the clothing and accessories?
My father initially took inspiration from the coffered ceilings of the Renaissance palaces, and seeing the equilibrium of architectural forms while walking in the streets of Florence. It is no coincidence that in 2010, Stefano Ricci bought the Antico Setificio Fiorentino, which since 1786 has produced precious textiles for interiors and fabrics for unique outfits such as the dinner jackets presented in our collections. Florence is the capital of Italian fashion, where Gucci, Pucci, Ferragamo, Scervino and Cavalli originated, and we have the same creative DNA.
Tell us a little bit about your factory and headquarters in Florence.
Originally, the company headquarters were in my grandparents’ villa. When our numbers grew and we needed to focus on different production lines, I spent six years searching for a new headquarters in the green countryside and close to a river. These are natural elements that allow our employees to work in harmony with their surroundings, to breathe in nature and to work in a healthy environment.
Today, the headquarters holds 250 people and covers 9,000 square metres on the hills of Fiesole, outside of Florence. Present are the ateliers for ties, shirts, leather goods, silversmithing and precious jewellery, as well as bespoke tailoring.
What are some of the exquisite fabrics you work with?
It is in our DNA to only use exquisite materials. We have never compromised quality for quantity, even in the research for exclusive productions. We have carried out continuous tests for unrepeatable fabrics such as a mix of Super 200s, vicuña (wool from South American camelids) and pashmina wool.
What is the reason behind the use of crocodile leather?
Over the years, the best international clientele have been looking with growing interest towards crocodile leather. Stefano Ricci shoes, belts and bags have become status symbols in the world, departing from the highest quality, to comfort and exclusive designs.
In the latest collections, the presence of crocodile can also be found in many details within the knitwear and jeans. We use crocodile leather in strict compliance with international law, originating from Australia (where we are part owners of a crocodile farm) and from Africa.
Who are your most well-known clients?
I can say that many are Heads of State, Prime Ministers and dignitaries. I can also add powerful and successful Indian businessmen and members of important families within India. If I have to mention one name, I’m extremely pleased to confirm Andrea Bocelli, the famed tenor and a great friend, walked the runway with his sons during our 45th anniversary fashion show at Palazzo Pitti in Florence this past January.
How has men’s fashion changed over the years?
As my father has often noted, at the beginning, Italians observed the English fashions, whereas the English followed Italian fashion. However, this means that fashion is constantly changing through the years and I believe that the comfort is the key in the world today, from bespoke suits to sportswear.
What are your expansion plans in India?
After the success in Mumbai, in Mr Tata’s hotel, during early 2018, we will probably open a new store in New Delhi.
The collection starts at Rs.20,000. At Mumbai. Details: 022 22040135