Luxury living has a whole new definition when it comes to Italian designers and Italian brands. And, Stefano Ricci, an Italian uber-luxury brand founded in 1980 by the eponymous designer and his wife, is all about finer things of life, handcrafted to perfection. A family-owned business, Stefano Ricci has outfitted oligarchs, oil scions in the Middle East, Hollywood celebs, and world leaders like Nelson Mandela. The 100% “Made In Italy” luxury menswear brand prides itself on its Florentine heritage and its old-world business ethos. Today, their sons are part of the brand, with Niccolo Ricci as the CEO and Filippo Ricci as the creative director. The brand entered India in 2015 and has been offering luxury to the crème de la crème of the country. We talk to Filippo Ricci on the brand’s manufacturing process, its offerings, its expansion plans in India, among other things.
Tell us about Stefano Ricci, its inception and journey so far.
The company was founded in 1972 by my parents. At the time, my father Stefano was a collector of ties and as a designer, he wanted to embark on an entrepreneurial experience in the production of what is ultimately an accessory – the tie. Starting from that accessory and developing his skills in tailored shirts, he was pushed forward by market demands and in particular by important clients such as Harrods and Neiman Marcus. He managed to conquer the world with some unique capabilities, such as the consistency of a product that is 100 percent Made in Italy, with a respect towards the final client that translates into a strict policy against discounting as well as a love for craftsmanship and product manufacture. With a farsighted vision, just think that in 1993 he wanted to open his first-ever boutique and he chose the city of Shanghai for the first DOS location.
What was the concept behind the launch of a brand like Stefano Ricci? What is its USP?
Long years of work are necessary to create and maintain a brand. We talk about quality products and not just marketing. The concept, as I stated before, has always been to enhance the skills of craftsmanship, putting the artisan at the centre of production. An additional distinctive element was added to this: never accept compromises in processing and production. Our USP remains factors such as consistency and high manufacturing capacity, combined with a sought-after influence of taste and elegance that we have in our DNA from being 'born and raised' in a city such as Florence.
Tell us about the product range offered by Stefano Ricci. What is the price range of the products?
When the international press asks us questions of this kind, we always answer that there is a substantial difference in defining a price, that is, the cost, with the addition of value in our case. Our products are truly born and manufactured entirely in Italy, with the company respecting all of the rules and pays taxes that are very high in our country and also use of exclusive materials, proceeding in a workman-like manner with a pursuit of perfection in every product. And these are the real value of our products.
Tell us about your retail presence. Also, do the brand retail through online portals as well?
We are present in the world through 62 mono-brand boutiques that have been opened in international capitals and, in particular, in Mumbai and New Delhi within India. We have 14 shop-in-shops as part of our sales network in the most exclusive international luxury chains. Our online sales platform was launched two years ago and is operated directly from our headquarters, in order to respond to requests from clients who may live far away from large international cities. At the moment, it is only available in the EU and in the USA. We have enthusiastically addressed this new challenge, although I am convinced that the experience of pure personal pleasure in our boutiques remain essential for a certain level of customers.
Tell us about your marketing strategies. What percentage of your overall revenue goes into marketing and promotions?
Following our company policy, we do not publicize our internal numbers. However, the percentage reserved for advertising, marketing strategies and promotions is not very high as we prefer to favor the organisation of international events and appointments reserved for our top clients.
What are your plans for expansion in terms of retail presence and also product assortment?
In terms of presence in the markets, we open an average of 4-5 boutiques every year, for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that each boutique is designed by Stefano Ricci and perfected by our internal team of architects. The same processing of travertine marble or pietraserena stone, as well as the recognisable Californian briar-root wood finishings, are entrusted to the best Florentine artisans who are then asked to carry out the assembly of the same materials worldwide. In addition to these features, we must bear in mind that the entire production, in addition to being 100 percent Made in Italy, is created in our workshops. It is necessary to transmit to all of our new hires the specific skills that will, after years of work, allow them to become master artisans, leather cutters, jewellers, silversmiths and tailors. We can confirm that after the recent opening at the Hong Kong Peninsula and that of Phnom Penh, we will open our third boutique in Macau and a boutique in Miami's design district in the upcoming weeks.
Tell us about your manufacturing units and the manufacturing process.
As I mentioned before, from the design of the product to its realisation, there are many different interacting work processes. Our style office actively collaborates with my father and with me to create each garment or elements from the SR HOME collection. The research and development phase is very profound and is constantly updated to ensure the best and highest-level production. Only when a product is considered ready for sale is it removed from our workshops. We are always looking towards quality rather than quantity.
What was the idea behind the brand’s entry into the Indian markets? How has it helped the brand in its endeavor to move ahead in the industry?
For years, it has been our pleasure to dress some of the most important clients around the world who are, in fact, Indians. This is a story that began in the 1970s with the Indians who lived and worked in London and grew through a series of international relations that matured in the last decade when we decided to enter India’s market with DOS openings. First, we opened in Mumbai in order to perfect our relationship with clients and now we are present in New Delhi. I must admit that some of the most elegant men on the planet are Indians.
How is the current situation of your industry in India as well as abroad?
As noted, we exclusively produce in Italy. At the moment, our presence is limited to the Mumbai boutique experience and I'm sure that it will take a few months for us to arrive at a perfect presence in New Delhi. The market is recovering overall after the situation of recent years linked to international speculative finance and some international crisis.
Do you think a franchise is a viable model for expansion? What are your plans to expand through this model?
Not in our case, starting from the assumption that we cannot disregard the need for direct control in production and distribution. Another matter is to act with licensed partners with whom we have shared a part of our professional career, in a correspondence of mutual esteem and reliability. Being at the top of the pyramid in the men's luxury market imposes a series of "no(s)" that is higher in respect to other market segments.