On a surprisingly heat, sunny day final January we visited the Artwork Deco villa that’s Alfredo Rifugio‘s headquarters in Naples.
It’s not what you anticipate for an Italian workshop. Whereas there are many lovely little tailors and cordwainers round Italy, most giant ateliers and factories are comparatively new, in industrial estates or in any other case extremely useful.
They’re extra like Paolo Scafora or Enzo Bonafé, or the Kiton complicated not distant from right here: post-war institutions with out the centuries-old buildings which might be extra widespread within the UK.
It appeared like Rifugio was going to be comparable, as we approached alongside a motorway offshoot, previous Pompeii after which stopping exterior a newsagent to look at Google Maps.
Shirtmaker Luca Avitabile was driving us, which was good of him, and he peered at his cellphone as he tried to search out the doorway. It was down a cobbled aspect road, apparently, between low brick partitions hung with foliage.
The explanation for the bizarre location is that the Rifugio headquarters is definitely an outdated villa – two individuals unconnected with the corporate nonetheless dwell there in residences.
Surrounded by tall palms, it has a fountain, a small backyard and murals. Seagulls from the Mediterranean wheel overhead.
The situation was chosen partly for its comfort: Alfredo Rifugio lives 5 minutes in a single route, Alfonso Rifugio 5 within the different. The remainder of the corporate has progressively stuffed it up over time.
That group continues to be comparatively small although: 25 workers, 5 of that are family members.
There’s a chopping room, a stitching room, a storage room and a showroom, plus a few workplaces. The stitching room is largest, with maybe a dozen work stations, however the whole lot else feels very residential in scale.
That is maybe shocking, given Rifugio’s repute. They’re in all probability the most important identify for luxurious leather-based and suede within the south of Italy, and although leather-based is a small business right here in comparison with the north, they do make for a lot of luxurious manufacturers.
That mentioned, not as many as they used to. Not as a result of the corporate has shrunk, however as a result of – like many producers we’ve coated up to now 15 years – it is switched enterprise mannequin.
A couple of years earlier than Covid, all Rifugio did was white label work, making jackets for others to place their identify on. There’s nonetheless a few of that, nevertheless it’s a tiny proportion – we solely noticed one different model on our tour.
For shoppers such as you, the great factor is that this creates a direct connection between the workshop – as described and illustrated right here – and the Rifugio product, whether or not at stockists or throughout a trunk present. There’s a transparent hyperlink between maker and buyer.
There’s a listing of present stockists on the backside of this text, by the way in which, as on our unique article on Rifugio in 2019 (which incorporates extra background on the corporate). Rifugio are about to re-start MTM trunk reveals below their identify too.
I typically get questions from readers asking to match the standard of leather-jacket makers: Rifugio for instance with Cromford, The Actual McCoy’s or Chapal.
I perceive the place that is coming from, nevertheless it’s somewhat like evaluating a bespoke blazer with a melton pea coat: the most important distinction between these two is kind and elegance, not high quality.
The Actual McCoy’s and Seraphin in Paris, for instance, make very several types of jacket, with very completely different leathers. Somebody like Cromford sits within the center, pushing to neither the extremes of hardiness or light-weight luxurious.
Rifugio is firmly on the gentle, luxurious finish of the spectrum. The suedes are the softest and lightest you should buy; the shearlings really feel simply as smooth. These usually are not jackets constructed for any sort of onerous put on, however they’re lovely and greater than somewhat luxe.
Exhibit A: the riotously orange suede proven above; you’re not going to see that anyplace close to Cromford or Actual McCoy’s.
Exhibit B: the seen choose stitching on the perimeters and seams of Rifugio jackets, which I’ve to say I like solely when it’s delicate.
And final, Exhibit C: my responsible pleasure, the factor I’d by no means put on however secretly lengthy to be the sort of particular person, within the sort of place, that might: matte-finish alligator.
My God that jacket was lovely. The textural variation within the completely different sizes and kinds of the scales; the enveloping heat of the beaver lining, like your higher physique has been wrapped in its personal radiator-cum-cocoon. However I’d by no means put on it, and I’d probably be mugged anyplace exterior of Mayfair if I did.
As regards to hand ending (from a few paragraphs in the past), I didn’t realise how a lot of the interior components of a Rifugio jacket are additionally put collectively by hand: attaching the sleeve, stitching the liner of the armhole and the cuff.
That is spectacular given it’s so hidden – the other of the choose stitching. It’s the sort of handwork you get on a top-level ready-made swimsuit, like hand-attaching a collar.
Amongst different fashions, Rifugio do some good blazers, although largely within the brief/slim model of latest Naples; the tackle a Harrington was terribly gentle. And there was a beautiful white calf. Extremely impractical, however then there’s historical past to white leather-based at Rifugio: they as soon as made a chunk on request for Pope John Paul II. He used it for snowboarding and mountaineering.
Principal stockists are listed under, most of whom additionally supply MTM. Rifugio will probably be restarting their very own trunk reveals for MTM this yr, in London, New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Geneva, with jackets beginning at €2800. You may see ready-made costs on alfredorifugio.com
- Michael Jondral – Hannover
- Oger – Amsterdam/Rotterdam/The Hague
- Simply One – Madrid
- L’Officine – Paris
- Dantendorfer – Wien/Innsbruck/Salzburg
- Lutz – Vinkeveen
- Sobs – Koln
- HS Vogue – Eindhoven
- Sovrano – Dusseldorf
- De Filippo Uomo – Koblenz
- Joris Lammers – Hertogenbosch
- Hartung – Copenaghen
- Schito Retailer – Zurich
- Montulet – Maastricht
- Degand – Bruxelles
- Runggaldier – Merano
- Donati – Perugia
- Guarini – Pescara
- Direct Tailoring – Bruxelles
- Cellini Signature – Doha
- Mario Zell – Baghdad
- Medallion – Beijin/Shanghai
- Isetan Males – Tokyo
- Mitsukoshi – Tokyo
- Takashimaya – Tokyo/Osaka
- Wako – Tokyo
- Marco Cimmino – Palm Seaside
- Sartoria Pardi – Mexico Metropolis
- Solito -Mexico Metropolis
- Senator – Tajikistan