Stefano Ricci: The Italian Luxury Menswear Steep In Family Tradition And Expert Craftsmanship
Italians take pride in what they create. This sense of pride stems from family tradition passed down from one generation to the next, thus paying great respect to the their strong heritage from the past.
Whether it’s magnificent architecture, delectable cuisine, extraordinary wines or remarkable apparel, the ‘Made In Italy’ label signifies that it’s the best of the best. Finely crafted precision paired with attention to detail is what makes Italian products unique while standing way apart from their competitors.
This is especially true when it comes the Italian menswear brand Stefano Ricci. Recently, I had the amazing opportunity of being invited to Milan to see firsthand the true elegance and familial backbone that makes Stefano Ricci once of the most sought-after brands today. Not only was I able to review the FW/22/23 menswear collection, but rather welcome to experience first-hand the brands luxury culture.
But first, I’d like to dive-in and share with you the luxury brands rich history and how this family-run business has developed into the successful global empire that it is today.
Founded in 1972, in the renaissance city of Florence, Stefano Ricci himself launched the business as a neckwear company. At that time, he had a firm philosophy of making each and every product in Italy and has remained true to this philosophy until today. Fast forward to the late 1970’s, after his first appearance at Pitti Uomo, a renowned bi-annual luxury Italian trade fair designed for apparel brands from all around the world to exhibit their collections to fashion buyers, editors and the like.
Upon exhibiting his first collection, Ricci received such a resounding applause from industry insiders that he he took that entrepreneurial spirit and opened up new horizons by developing a Stefano Ricci luxury shirt collection. Then in 1986, Stefano himself, along with several hand picked colleagues, created a collection named “Classico Italia” that would embody the city of Florence and of course, keeping his main philosophy intact referencing that all products are to be Made In Italy.
By the 1990’s, Stefano Ricci consisted of an abundant number of products categories -including jackets, suits, knitwear, sportswear and footwear. In addition, Ricci launched an exclusive line of leather items and, in keeping with Florence’s time-honored jewelry-making tradition, he created a collection of handsome cufflinks and exquisite belt buckles using gold, platinum, diamonds, sapphires and other gemstones. In my opinion, these items are more like a piece of wearable art.
In 2005, the iconic emblem of the Stefano Ricci brand was created as the Royal Eagle. The Royal Eagle was chosen due to the key elements it represents and how they are the same elements that Stefano Ricci represents; Power, Pride, and Honor (The Flagship store in Florence boasts a gigantic Royal Eagle right in the middle of the location.) The eagle is so well-known as a Florentine icon, that visitors to the Tuscan city make sure to take the time to view during their stay in Italy.
In later years, the brand expanded its creativity by creating SR HOME, which included top of the line household items such as silverware and other home accessories. Under SR HOME, the brand launched the SR Luxury Yacht Division as well as launching furniture lines, ski lines, children’s and even a Stefano Ricci cigar, Opus X in 2018 to round out their extensive list of luxury products. In summary, Stefano Ricci is the best of the best in refined luxury.
Since its launch, fifty years ago, I was honored to be chosen to review the refined craftsmanship, family tradition, and strong passion. During my stay, I was enthusiastic to tour the brand’s factory located beneath the luxurious offices in Florence –where I was curious to understand the foundation behind the product development methods that has given Stefano Ricci the renowned luxury status that it has today.
Upon viewing the methods of craftsmanship, artisans and other lines of production, I noticed that down to the finest detail, nothing is overlooked. Since I started my career as a menswear journalist, I have truly never been so enlightened by a brand’s heroic culture.
In my research, oftentimes, I find that consumers are quick to judge price-points. More to my point, they cannot comprehend how and why luxury apparel and related industries can be so expensive. Well in my expert opinion, the handmade, Made In Italy craftsmanship, is worth its weight in gold. I assure you that upon entering the Stefano Ricci stores, you can feel the proud family tradition run through the veins of the luxury apparel company and how that family pride and strength comes to life in the luxurious product-offerings.
At present, Niccolò and Filippo Ricci represent the new generation at STEFANO RICCI. Two brothers, with the same vision and drive- in the search for absolute quality. Born in Florence, both grew up in Florence and entered the family business. Today, at the helm, Niccolò is CEO whereas Filippo handles the creative direction of one of the top luxury brands in the world.
In 2022, Niccolò and Filippo continue to keep the valued traditions and detailed expertise that has always been the true DNA of the brand. Albeit at the gallery brick and mortar locations or at command central headquarters, they all are required to eat lunch in the same cafeteria-even Niccolo and Filippo themselves.
I find that although an abundant number of Italian luxury brands can proudly boast about their noteworthy products and services, Stefano Ricci stands apart on an entire separate platform.
For instance, in 2010, Stefano Ricci purchased the Antico Setificio Fiorentino. The Antico Setificio Fiorentino is one of the last remaining silk manufacturing factories in the world and this one has been making fabrics for the most renowned families since 1786. I was given the amazing opportunity to see and tour this factory and view its hand-operated and semi-mechanical looms weave dreams, embellished by a wondrous warper designed by the master Leonardo Da Vinci, and are all still used today, specifically for their SR HOME collections.
After the tours of the Stefano Ricci headquarters and the Antico Setificio Fiorentino, I was presented the FW 22/23 collection in Mantova, Italy (Mantua in English). As a proud Italian-American, I am surprised to say that I had never heard of this city in my life. However, this is one of the most beautiful cities that I have come across due to its rich history. In short, Mantova, officially declared the Italian Capital of Culture, is the birthplace of famous Roman poet Virgil. Mantova is noted for its significant role in the history of opera; the city is also known for its architectural treasures and artifacts, elegant palaces, and the medieval and Renaissance cityscape. It is the city where the composer Monteverdi premiered his opera L’Orfeo– and to where Romeo was banished in Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.
Alas, the Stefano Ricci FW 22/23 collection was unveiled in a beautifully sculpted building in Mantova surrounded by Renaissance art that upon viewing, one would think it was painted that day.. “
Italy is a splendidly tailored suit. It is the sum of art, tradition, knowledge, and expertise: it is quality of life in one sentence. And like any sartorial garment, it delights with little secrets and in details that make the difference. For this reason, we continue on a path that sees us committed to the locations of a sustainable Italy, of the absolute Italian spirit. This is naturally relevant for products that are 100% Made in Italy, and, in this context, we were fascinated by the richness of Mantova, the land of the Giants. Virgil, Verdi, Vivaldi, Mantegna, the Gonzaga dynasty, up to Tazio Nuvolari. It is a territory that reminds all of us how much beauty surrounds us.” states Filippo Ricci, STEFANO RICCI Creative Director, introducing the Fall/Winter 2022-23 Collection.
The STEFANO RICCI Fall/Winter 2022-23 Collection is a pure demonstration of what an 100% Made in Italy collection would look like, pure excellence. As expected, the collection embodied everything that true luxury Italian menswear should represent. The attention to detail for both the sophisticated pieces and the leisure pieces were very evident to see. The collection paid homage to the classic traditional man but in a very modern and fashionable. In a world where menswear has moved towards boundary breaking cuts and styles, Stefano Ricci’s Fall/Winter 2022-23 Collection reminded us how to dress like a successful luxurious man.
Every garment and accessory has exquisite and unrepeatable details, from handmade finishes to complete artisanal construction. You can really see for yourself the expert tailoring that is synonymous with Italian menswear and especially Stefano Ricci. You can see the lines through broken suits and the always iconic SR sartorial jackets, as well as the comfortable and light outerwear pieces.
This collection stands out due to its ability to appeal to all generations and be able to fit every occasion, from business travel to leisure. Not only does the collection exude elegance precision, but Stefano Ricci was able to capture this while also paying close attention to the sustainability aspect. Sustainability is prioritized from distinguished raw materials, natural colors, careful construction and innovative design that characterizes the Florentine brand.
For me, the standout pieces include a must-have double breasted, double deconstructed coat in wool. The piece has a double soul in a that highlights one of the collection’s main themes of playing between lightness and practicality; one side has an undergrowth brown tone, whereas the other is cloud gray, capable of showcasing all the moments in which it can be worn.
It is quintessential menswear with refined craftsmanship. This collection was able to capture a variety of color palettes that ranges chromatically from burgundy to Ricci blue, from neutral shades to cream whites, from the brown Lacon shearling hooded blouson that reveals a light interior to the magnificence of a vicuña and nubuck crocodile blouson with a fisher fur collar and mink fur lining.
Vicuña, the “Fiber of the Gods”, is a real protagonist of the next winter season. Your eyes gravitate to this sumptuous fiber that is evident in the collection with a hooded coat fit for a king in a cashmere and vicuña blend. The Stefano Ricci man is refined and masculine. A man that is attentive to style that lasts over time but is continually renewed. The knitwear epitomizes what Stefano Ricci stands for and is unrivaled in its finishes, weights and sporty details. The sneakers are comfortable with leather insoles envisioned by the Florentine designer. The chic leather goods are distinctive with Stefano Ricci Letter Logos and sublime saddle stitching.
Field jackets are ever-present for this winter season collection. A knit double breasted gilet is worn under a two-button Fiesole suit. Nebulous burgundy and black tuxedo jackets produced from an Antico Setificio Fiorentino fabric and a long coat in midnight blue with mink fur lapels. There are milky colored cashmere jogging suits for leisure time or travel, and for the hours of commitment, an ultralight deconstructed jersey knit suit. Many trousers have a drawstring at the waist, a symbol of the affirmed freedom in the dressing of today’s man.
I had the splendid opportunity to sit down with CEO Niccolò Ricci and creative director Fillipo Ricci about why vertical integration has always been part of our DNA, why sustainability is one of the most important keys to access the future and why their research activity is always oriented towards a vision of the future!
Pasquale Suriano: Speak to our readers about the familial tradition embedded within the brand and how it continues to be at the forefront of Stefano Ricci.
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: We grew up in the family business. After school, when we were students, we spent afternoons and did homework in our grandmother’s villa. She lived on the first floor, while the company offices were on the ground, and the production workshops were in the basement. We assimilated the smell of the fabrics and discovered the secrets of craftsmanship. Entering the company with increasing roles in operations management was a natural transition for us. And this, too, reinforces the conviction in us that we want to continue along the path traced by our parents. This is a true One Family Story.
PS: In your own words, explain to our readers about the importance of almost all in-house vertical integration at Stefano Ricci as well as the brand’s dedication to Made-In-Italy craftsmanship.
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: Vertical integration has always been part of our DNA. From design to selecting materials, to research, from cutting to creativity. For us, the 100% Made in Italy product is a guarantee of absolute quality, without compromise, which allows us to pass on to the new generations the knowledge of processing stages that can ensure a future for original Italian production. For this reason, we have been supporting young apprentices with master artisans within the company.
PS: In your words, talk to Forbes about Stefano Ricci’s rich heritage as well as future goals for the brand?
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: STEFANO RICCI produces garments destined to last over time. Quality and attention to detail are essential to ensure customers receive the highest quality products. From ties to shirts, from knitwear to tailored garments, bags, accessories, and sportswear, our heritage is a message of constant research and a proposal that today extends to the luxury lifestyle concept. From interior design to perfumes, from watches to wines, STEFANO RICCI is proud to represent pure Italian spirit.
PS: What does the city of Firenze (Florence) mean to Stefano Ricci? What does Stefano Ricci mean to the city of Firenze (Florence)?
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: Florence has always been a source of inspiration for our father. From concept drawings to the richness of artisanal production. He has always told us about his first business trips abroad; when he showed up with his first collections, just saying “I’m from Florence” received dedicated attention, a positive comment. This is why we, as a family, have always tried to give something back to the territory out of a sense of gratitude. This happened with a donation of new lights for the Loggia de’ Lanzi near the Uffizi, with the restoration of medieval volumes on Ancient Arts and Crafts in the State Archives, and a celebration for the new Ponte Vecchio lighting. Stefano Ricci is proud of his roots.
PS: Talk to our readers about the sustainability efforts led by Stefano Ricci in today’s luxury market?
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: Sustainability is one of the most important keys to access the future. For years we have been committed to this perspective, and we have made clear choices: all our workers experience the company through open space environments with natural light. However, sustainability is not just an energy choice but also regards employees’ quality of life and the hours that are spent in production by each individual. We have practically eliminated plastics right from the packaging, favoring FSC recognized paper and cardboard. Fine craft is often carried out with natural colors, which are more delicate but also more respectful of the environment. Although, we must say this, especially in complex moments like the present one: true sustainability for companies is to guarantee the future of work for their employees, in full compliance with the national and international rules.
PS: For the unveiling of the new collection, what is the reason behind your creative strategy showcased in the city of Mantova?
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: For years we have been committed to enhancing the great Italian beauty. We started our journey by restoring dignity to undiscovered locations such as the Sammezzano Castle, which is unfortunately closed to the public now; we have carried out communication campaigns in exclusive contexts such as the island of Montecristo with its protected natural environment; we entered the Reggia di Caserta; and, for the Fall/Winter 2022-23 collection, we conducted our lookbook and advertising campaigns in a small treasure: the city of Mantova (also known as Mantua). Those who produce in Italy have a duty to promote the uniqueness of a proposal that the world loves.
PS: What was the inspiration behind the collection? What changes or trends were you aiming to highlight?
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: Our research activity is always oriented towards a vision of the future, trying to anticipate our clients’ requests. During the period of the pandemic, we began to expand our proposal with elegant sportswear garments. New generations require tailored garments even for travel, cashmere jackets that ensure style and comfort, as well as the SR Luxury Tech proposals that allow the client to experience a formal style in waterproof fabrics.
PS Are there any plans in the works for Stefano Ricci to expand to brick and mortar stores; specifically in the U.S.?
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: We are currently relocating the New York Flagship to the Fuller Building on East 57th Street, which will open this summer and will be one of the strong points in an events program linked to celebrating 50 years of activity for our company.
PS: Talk to our readers about how the importance of the U.S. market relates to Stefano Ricci?
Filippo & Niccolò Ricci: The United States has always been the most competitive market for luxury brands. We have been present in America since 1974, first in Multi-brand and department stores. STEFANO RICCI is now available in Mono-brand boutiques in New York, Miami, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and 12 Shop-in-Shops in Neiman Marcus department stores.