Remo Ruffini, creative director and CEO of Moncler is a maverick. Through his entire carrier, he has defied all expectations and thwarted the system, so when it came time for him to work out a brand, it was given that the path he would take would be unique. The most recent example of him breaking the chains and not confining to the diktats of popular thought was his decision to launch Moncler Genius.
This undertaking represents a new creative strategy: the brand collaborate with eight different stylists, from across the world, with the goal of creating smaller and crisper collections, absolutely unique, which are released one by one, all through the month, instead of piling them all up and releasing them twice a year during a show. “I arrived at the conclusion that the world of fashion had changed. The world we live in is undergoing an immense upheaval, concepts of traditional marketing are now a moot point. So, we decided to distance ourselves from standard commercial models, but have new releases every month, undertaking a new project each month,” Remo says.
So, it simply means that the release of the eight collections Moncler presented to the world last February, designed by artists as heteroclite as Pierpaolo Piccioli, Simone Rocha, Craig Green, Kei Ninomiya, Francesco Ragazzi (of Palm Angels) and Hiroshi Fujiwara (of Fragment), is appearing in Moncler boutiques across the globe.
The collections created by Fujiwara, Ninomiya, Green, Moncler 1952 and more recent ones by Rocha and Piccioli are already available in stores, and the first responses have done nothing other than strengthen Remo’s conviction: the right decision was made for Moncler.
A DIALOGUE EVERYDAY
“Honestly, the first six months went really well, and we are now entering our most important season, winter, which will have us showing some significant numbers,” confides the CEO, who announced that his company had undergone a 47 per cent hike in profits, gaining upwards of 61.6 million euros and a 21 per cent increase in sales with turnovers of up to 493.5 million in the first six months of 2018.
The new circulation strategy responds perfectly to the mental makeup of the contemporary client, which doesn’t look only for immediate gratification but also exclusivity. The trends of the world of luxury, like a client looking to buy a statue, they too are bombarded by array of new options and varieties. And with the constant reduction of the average attention span, to maintain the interest of customers in a collection that remains in the boutique for several months is an uphill climb. But by giving oneself the option of releasing a new Genius collection every 30 odd days, Moncler generates new interest and a fresh outlook from its clients and journalists which only works in favour of the brand.
“The communication of today has nothing to do with the way it used to be in the beginning. Earlier, we, the brand, would address the client only once every season. From now on we should initiate that dialogue on a daily basis, the customer needs to be attracted to the boutique on a specific day, a given week—that is a tremendous challenge,” Remo says.
It has to be kept in mind that stylists come from different parts of the world and each of them incarnates a singular individual aesthetic, and so they become a very different kind of client.
Remo adds, “To start with, we choose designers whose work and who themselves are pleasing to us, keeping in mind that we have to work on 12 different projects, 12 months per year. We want to be certain that each of these designers possess a unique and different energy, the kind that our clients can differentiate one from the other. For example, one the one hand we would have a designer like Pierpaolo, an expert more of women’s fashion while someone like Hiroshi is more a specialist of streetwear. The idea was truly to create something that encompasses all generations and appeals to different attitudes.”
HIGH-TECH AND HIGH FASHION
From the very beginning, Remo was always clued into and eventually at the helm of new trends. After high school, he left for the United States to study Fashion Marketing at the University of Boston, but didn’t register himself for a single course, deciding that he preferred to learn on the job, alongside his father in the family business, the clothing brand Gianfranco Ruffini.
In 1984, he started with his own business – a brand named New England. A combination of the preppy American look (very popular nowadays) and a solid base of Italian craftsmanship. After selling the company in 2000, Remo took a leap of faith and bought Moncler (founded in 1952 in the Isère region of France and known for its winter equipment) in 2003. Moncler was, at the time, on the verge of extinction, but he saw tremendous potential.
“Thinking back, I would say that for all effective purposes Moncler was practically a start-up. We started with two employees, and today more than 3,500 people work for the House. I remember that at the time Moncler was sold only in Italy, so I thought that if we were to grow our base we would be true to the DNA of the brand and also engage more with the clients, knowing that we had to listen to them to be able to create better collections, we could accomplish a lot with that outlook,” Remo says.
The tour de force spearheaded by Remo consisted of transforming the more banal and run-of-the-mill winter clothes, the puffa jacket for example, into something more high-tech and more high fashion. To make that happen he called on stylists like Thom Browne for the masculine line,
Gamme Bleu and Giambattista Valli for the feminine collection, Gamme Rouge. For over ten years, the two men have imagined original presentations for their creations, spectacles in which top models with descent from artificial ski slopes, mount a horse, and dive into a swimming pool, shows where the most unusual interventions were dreamed up and executed, from hip hop dance troops all the way to Canadian Mounties. And during the first days of the digital revolution, with the boom of social media and Instagram, the images of their shows made the fashionistas drop like flies.
In addition, Ruffini had always had a head start when it came to the race of collaborations, which today is pivotal to the fashion industry. Over the years, Moncler has partnered with a host of artists: Pharrell Williams for a collection of sunglasses, Chitose Abe of Sacai, Erdem Moralioglu, Virgil Abloh and Junya Watanabe. Among all the Moncler collection the CEO’s favourite product is puffa jacket: “It has a bright orange lining, and even though I have had the jacket for ten years now I still wear it all the time,” says passionate Ruffini.
GAZING MOOD OF THE PEOPLE
But this initial fashion of collaboration did, without a doubt, reach its timely demise with the transformation of the smallest aspects of the logistical chain of the brand, a transformation in such a way that it would assure the launch of Moncler Genius.
Now that Moncler has stopped working with Browne and Valli, all of Remo’s energies are directed to the radical change in strategy and direction. “It is a given that the logistical chain of the brand was the most difficult thing to put in place. We had to change work culture, because earlier, we had three months to deliver on a collection, whereas now, it’s 30 days,” Remo says.
And who said that a more malleable logistical chain meant a more rapid reaction to the changing moods and fancies of the clients. “In today’s day and age, an extreme level of flexibility is paramount. One must be clued into the market at all times. I am convinced that this new way of working is the future of the industry. Moreover, our brand caters to different generations, to a myriad of clients, which is an entirely unique positioning, but it isn’t exactly easy to pull off. But, the more we interact directly with the clients, the more we will listen to what they have to say and the stronger we will become as a brand,” Remo says.
It appears that Moncler has found the perfect balance between comfort, elegance and originality.
*This story has been contributed by Jessica Michault.