I’ll admit it, I get slightly nervous in most places where men in sharp suits are paid to open the door for me. But a visit to the Stefano Ricci boutique is on a whole new level: here I was a shifty and conspicuous interloper. Grabbing myself a furtive grope of the knitwear, caressing its sumptuous fibers, a sleazy fetishist with a penchant for premium grade cashmere.
The staff can tell though, right? They are too well trained to let on of course, but they’re just humoring me; they know full well I cannot actually buy anything.
For those who can, the added bonus of being among the tiny minority that can afford such exclusive menswear is that you’ll likely have the entire store to yourself. Just you and an attentive team of impeccably turned-out sales staff whose monthly paycheck would barely stretch to a single item of knitwear before employee discount.
However, for the average pleb with more mundane demands on his income – i.e. me – a visit to a Stefano Ricci store can be an intimidating experience. SR is a brand for the man who already has a yacht and isn’t quite sure what to purchase next. Oligarch-steez.
It’s easy to be cynical, but I shan’t pretend that it’s anything other than jealousy. There’s certainly no doubting the quality of Stefano Ricci products. Many brands use nice materials, pay attention to small details, and cut a fine form; but few can match Ricci for overall quality. It’s hard to put your finger on precisely what it is about these items that just says money, but that’s undoubtedly the message they convey.
Sure, the heavily branded hardware and flash haberdashery on some garments will not be to everybody’s tastes. Yet, rather than cheapening the label’s designs, they just further serve to create an impression of absolute quality. Ostentatious perhaps, but certainly not chintz.
And when they pull it off, the Stefano Ricci look really works: soft and lightweight silk and cashmere blends; exceptionally delicate and rich-colored merino sweaters: stylish collared knits in ’70s-inspired geometric patterns; premium grade cashmere and suede jackets; flatteringly cut jeans and chinos. All made by hand in Italy from the very highest caliber of raw materials.
Plenty of people own a few Stefano Ricci ties, some might even have a couple of his shirts. Understandably though – given the extravagant price – it’s rare for the average guy’s closet to contain any Ricci knitwear or outerwear. This is truly exclusive luxury menswear. Clothes “to die for” would be a little melodramatic. But to plot and scheme for? Definitely.
To be totally realistic though, secondhand or consignment Stefano Ricci is likely the only way most of us mere mortals are ever likely to get our hands on knitwear, jeans, and outerwear of this level of quality and craftsmanship. I might never be willing to blow an entire month’s income on a single sweater or knitted polo, no matter how exquisite. But two or three hundred bucks for clothing of this quality? Absolutely.
Props, landscape courtesy of Covet Design