Founded in 1786, in Florence, Italy, the Antico Setificio Fiorentino showcases a vast history of silk weaving and Italian textiles from the Renaissance forward. It even includes a famous warping machine (an ancient device that turns the thread into fabric) based on the design by none other than Leonardo da Vinci that is still in use today. The Antico Setificio Fiorentino is now under the helm of the Stefano Ricci family, which it purchased from the Emilio Pucci family in 2010.
On a sunny morning in mid-June, Jing Daily caught up with Filippo Ricci, the creative director at the luxury menswear brand Stefano Ricci at the Antico Setificio Fiorentino. While the meeting venue speaks a lot about the brand’s commitment in preserving its Florentine fabric tradition and craftsmanship, our conversation revealed how the brand works to continue its appeal to the next generation of customers, especially those in China, the largest luxury market of the world.
In China, the name of Stefano Ricci may not be a household name yet, but it is well-known enough among the country’s ultra-rich class, who are intrigued with the brand’s magnificent “Made in Italy” roots, craftsmanship, and heritage. The brand now has been in the Chinese market for over 25 years and is accelerating its reach to the next generation. “I saw so much energy in the new generation that China will be to us the biggest market. They have dreams. They want to express. The new generation is going so fast,” said Ricci, who fully understands the importance of the brand to conquer China.
How important is the Chinese market for your brand?
We have a strong connection to China since we opened our first shop in 1993, in Shanghai. So it was really at the very beginning of the luxury industry over there and is still one of our most important markets in the world. The Chinese community, not only in China but all over the world, loves our products. We’re very much recognized with the eagle symbol, which is our iconic logo.
How is the business doing there?
We went from a drastic growth, which over 30 to 40 percent every year to more organic and very healthy growth. We are happy with the Chinese market performance for this year from last year.
Do you worry about the impact of the trade war?
We have not seen it yet with our brand. I always say, there is no crisis for luxury, real luxury goods. And quality always wins. Because people like to buy quality, it’s like you’re investing your money in something that lasts and looks good and makes you feel good.
What’s your retail strategy in China?
We love to partner with hotels, and we do it all around the world. We have a good mix of presenting stores on the street, but also I like this whole idea because it is reserved, it’s private, it’s luxury. You get privacy, you get security. You get a lot of things to do and people like just go there. They have all kinds of services that I think are great, and are great places to meet up, have a meeting, go to the store, or go to lunch. It’s been really working very well. That’s why we have great partnerships with most of the big hotels. In Macao, we are now at the New Wynn hotel; we are in the Arc de Triomphe; we are at the Venetian and the Four Seasons. In Hong Kong at the Peninsula. And we just opened in Sanya, China.
How do you reach Chinese consumers?
It basically started word to mouth by friends. We like to respect the privacy of our customers. We don’t do publicity. We also offer a unique service that we do, traveling the world with our tailors to make these extremely wealthy powerful gentlemen happy. We’re keen on social media, but my kind of customer is really focusing on what his friends, what his team is telling him, and how he likes to build it that way and so we create like it’s a sort of a club.
What’s your digital and e-commerce strategy?
We are working on WeChat, which has been demanded by our customers. We are also working on an e-commerce platform in China before the end of the year. I still believe, personally, that I like to have my clients come to the stores or us to go to them because of the concept of exclusivity that you can give especially in clothing, but I believe it’s a great service that you have to give. China’s such a big country, you cannot have stores in every city yet, but it’s a great opportunity for a customer to see something online, see it on WeChat, sell it, get the pictures, and order it over there.
How do you maintain a luxury brand image online?
I think with the right images and the right experience you can do the perfect website. It’s a service that you do. For example, our tailor and the manager of the store can go and visit the client after the product has been delivered. We also, of course, offer a strong digital service, where you can order anything online and we’ll have it delivered in a proper way, with just the right packaging.
This interview was condensed and edited.