“The Indian man knows about quality and clothing”: Italian luxury menswear icon Stefano Ricci makes a case for tailoring

Chalking the line between customised and casual, father-son Stefano and Niccolo Ricci reveal unknown titbits about luxury menswear of today
Stefano Ricci believes customised clothing has a prestige that ‘trending’ fashion doesn’t hold
Stefano Ricci believes customised clothing has a prestige that ‘trending’ fashion doesn’t hold
Published on Feb 23, 2019 10:39 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By

The changing style of the fashionable man has never affected what ‘classic’ in fashion means. Certain questions about fashion have always remained relevant. So what is classy? Does a suit look incomplete without a tie? Is super expensive synonymous with luxurious? These are some questions about men’s clothing that have remained relevant over the years.

I direct all these questions to Stefano Ricci and his son Niccolò. Even when Italian fashion is becoming more accessible, the duo puts great emphasis on tailoring and customising, but shrug their shoulders when asked what luxury means to them. “Why does everyone ask me that?” Stefano says.

In times when the line between couture and off-the-rack keeps getting thinner, we get the purveyors of Italian style to define tailoring and answer questions in an exclusive chat about everything relevant to Indian clothing and the evolving style sense of the quintessential Indian man.

Classic, not trendy

“The Indian man is elegant when he wears his own classics. He knows about quality and clothing”
—Stefano Ricci

Menswear has gone through tremendous changes all over the world, reckons Stefano.

“There are two worlds of menswear: one is fashion and one is tailoring. Fashion has changed completely, for sure. It’s been turned upside down. However, tailoring is different. You can wear a jacket we made 10 years ago and the quality is still top-notch. The look of a classic doesn’t change. I don’t believe in dressing trendy people, because I’m not trendy,” he firmly states.

The Indian man

As a legacy when it comes to defining the evolution of menswear, I am curious to know his thoughts about Indian men and their dressing sense. “The Indian man is elegant when he wears his own classics. He knows about quality, he knows about clothing and understands the importance of quality. And to wear classics, you have to have good taste – be balanced and not be loud,” he says, comfortably seated in his newly-opened store in The Oberoi, New Delhi.

And how much, I ask, has the classic Italian man’s look changed over the years? Says Niccolò: “Casual wear has become popular, you see a lot of it in Italy now. People wear sneakers with suits! I believe in being classic, but experimental, and I think it’s a good idea to experiment with different cuts and fabrics for dinner jackets etc. in formal wear.”

“In a year from now, I’ll talk to you about Indian menswear. I have a feeling that Indian gentlemen have a conscience of quality,” he adds.

Niccolò feels tailored shirts and powersuits look smart on women
Niccolò feels tailored shirts and powersuits look smart on women

Tailoring over fashion seasons

The father-son duo makes a case for the difference between fashion and tailoring. “Can you compare Dolce & Gabbana suits to Stefano Ricci suits? No. D&G is fashion, we’re tailoring,” explains Stefano.

Stefano feels the Indian man and his dressing reflects more of classic than ready-made, ‘trendy’ fashion because social, political and economical factors find a reflection in Indian clothing. “I do believe there is certain persistence in the quality of clothing that Indian men go for,” Stefano says.

A fine focus

“Casual wear is popular... People wear sneakers with suits!” —Niccolo Ricci

I try to ask Stefano about gender-fluid fashion, and I am corrected (again), that fashion and tailoring are different worlds. Their clothes are for men. Is that why, I ask, they never ventured into women’s fashion?

“We’re not competing with the mega brands. Our niche is high-end menswear, and we’re pursuing that and not diversifying,” he says.Still, I insist on their views on womenswear. As connoisseurs of the classic, what do you think of women in power suits? I ask. “Very nice,” says Niccolò. “Tailored shirts and suits for women, we are not producing it, but we support it,” he adds.

All or custom

In the recent years, almost all brands are bringing customisation into their lines. Everyone is trying to make custom suits, ‘couturify’ their brand.

“I know, I know, all these fashion brands are trying to enter the custom-made market because they see it works. It’s a way to add originality and prestige to their brand. But it doesn’t belong to them. I wish them good, but you cannot just build up a business like that, in a day!” laughs Stefano.

The importance of the white shirt

The brand may have developed a lot over the years, but the one part of the classic wardrobe that is essential to a man (and a woman’s) outfit is the classic white shirt. So according to Stefano Ricci, how relevant is the shirt today?

“A classic white shirt should be 50 per cent of a man’s wardrobe. That’s how classy and relevant the white shirt is!” smiles Stefano.

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From HT Brunch, February 24, 2019

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    Samreen Tungekar is a content producer with HT Brunch. She writes on fashion, lifestyle and all things that come with a hashtag.

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