Much like what's happening the world over, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many lives and businesses. While there are still continued reports of new cases and deaths, being socially distant and staying home, is proving to be working as the number of reported cases have been decreasing day on day in most parts of the world.
Take Italy for example: At one point in the middle of March, the number of new cases spiked at almost 6,600, but has since dropped to under 400 on 26 May.
Italy is no doubt one of the foremost fashion capitals in the world, and home to some of the most luxurious fashion brands out there. But that has also meant that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the country's fashion manufacturing, businesses and its skilled artisans—elements that make up an excellent Italian-made luxury brand.
For elite luxury brand Stefano Ricci—founded and based in Florence, Italy—it has meant keeping true to its legacy of protecting and showcasing the best that Italy, specifically Florence, has to offer. Usually, it is during this time that the brand would be showcasing its upcoming collection to media partners and special guests in an exotic location in Italy. But alas, the time for such events have had to be respectfully postponed for public health concerns.
We speak to creative director Filippo Ricci to find out how the brand has been handling the crisis, what the future looks like and positive takeaways from the constantly evolving situation.
ESQ: How has the situation been in Florence? How has the pandemic changed your life personally?
FILIPPO RICCI: Like the rest of the world, Florence has experienced some difficult weeks. Even if the numbers in this emergency have not reached the heights seen in other cities, the lockdown has forced each of us to rethink our lives in depth. Personally, I stayed with my son in a private residence that fortunately has a garden. I missed the freedom of movement and the opportunity to meet friends for dinner or an event. But we will return to normal.
ESQ: How have you been spending your time while being socially responsible?
FILIPPO RICCI: As I mentioned, I respected the particularly restrictive rules. There was a lot of smart working, a little physical activity and a Mediterranean diet.
ESQ: Because Stefano Ricci, as a brand, relies heavily on Florentine craftsmanship, how has the pandemic affected the business?
FILIPPO RICCI: Our production has been closed for about two months. At the company headquarters, we had already implemented security measures for all staff two weeks before the lockdown. When we were finally able to resume work, we started from those measures, added staggered shifts, and continued to supply masks and gels.
ESQ: We do see a lot of fashion and luxury businesses coming out to help various communities and frontline healthcare workers during this time of need. What were some of the ways that Stefano Ricci has helped out the community?
FILIPPO RICCI: We tried to do our best to protect our workers, whom we guaranteed full wages even in these circumstances. We also confirmed our collaborations with artisan workshops in order to show our confidence from the moment of reopening. From a health point of view, together with the Lyu family, through the Richl company, and with logistical support from Apogeo, we purchased one million surgical masks. These were then donated to the Italian Civil Protection Department so they could be distributed to where they were most needed.
ESQ: Do you foresee any changes that may happen within the fashion and luxury industry post-COVID-19?
FILIPPO RICCI: It's still too early to say. Of course, it will take weeks to return to normal. Our top clients, with whom we have maintained direct contact with even in the midst of the crisis, are increasingly asking us for exclusive services. This includes arrangements for our tailors to make at-home visits.
ESQ: What’s a valuable lesson that you’ve learnt from the situation?
FILIPPO RICCI: I believe that the whole world was somewhat unprepared for this emergency. Each country responded according to its capabilities. The primary lesson that all of humanity has come to learn is that we must begin to pay more attention to personal hygiene, washing our hands more often throughout the day, trying to avoid overcrowded places and situations where we could have excessive contact with others.
But the most beautiful lesson has been that of solidarity. In this light, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the doctors and nurses around the world who have attended to the health of those affected by the virus.
ESQ: How has being socially distant inspired you, especially when it comes to future collections for Stefano Ricci?
FILIPPO RICCI: The collection that we are working on, for the spring/summer 2021 season, will be a hymn to joy. It is the desire to return to seeing one another again, sharing our lives with friends, even if we continue to respect social distancing. I believe that after months of darkness, there is a desire for freshness and nature.
ESQ: What has been your go-to style while staying home?
FILIPPO RICCI: It's been a comfortable style, with lightweight knitwear, sneakers, without ever giving up the ritual of dressing elegantly, as a form of respect for myself. During video conferences, I have been trying to convey an image of a natural predisposition to optimism even through the use of dress.
ESQ: You’re an avid traveller. What’s the first destination you would like to travel to for leisure once this crisis is over and what would you like to do?
FILIPPO RICCI: My first trip will be by boat—from Punta Ala to the Tuscan archipelago, and then to Sardinia and Capri. The open sea. In terms of intercontinental travel, I want to return to Asia to say hello again to my friends there.
ESQ: What are you most looking forward to once this crisis is over?
FILIPPO RICCI: I look forward to travelling to meet new cultures, visiting places of great beauty, being in nature, and, most of all, speaking to others in person as direct relationships have no equal.