Sergio Rossi

MILAN “The coronavirus pandemic has redesigned the time and methods and nothing is like before,” said Sergio Rossi chief executive officer Riccardo Sciutto. “All that made sense before does not anymore, we must do more and in a different way.”

But he sees this moment as an opportunity. “Either you shut down in yourself and do nothing or you do unexpected things. This is the moment to be audacious. Courage is not enough, with audacity you can have unexpected results, with bravery there’s always a bit of a pulled handbrake.”

In his staple upbeat way, Sciutto spoke to WWD about the opening of a Sergio Rossi pop-up store being unveiled today on Milan’s Via Montenapoleone 1, in the week that Italy’s government has allowed stores to reopen after the lockdown. The previous flagship down the same street at number 27 has closed at the expiration of the lease. The pop-up will be open for 12 months and Sciutto is looking at another location for a permanent store that may open early next year in the city.

Dubbed Wonder Machine, the pop-up is inspired by Gary Card’s installation made for the luxury footwear brand during Milan Fashion Week in February 2019. “It brings the client into a magical, modern and sophisticated shoe factory,” said Sciutto. The concept could change throughout the 12 months of the store being open, however.

The walls are covered by Sergio Rossi boxes that here become displays and shelves; at the center an oversize slide more than 16 feet high connects the store with the warehouse, delivering shoes directly to the customer — an allusion to the Magic Kindgom, or how Sciutto refers to the brand’s San Mauro Pascoli factory, which also houses a museum with archival brand designs. The namesake founder died last month of the coronavirus at 84, as reported.

European investment house Investindustrial took control of the company in 2015 from its previous owner, Kering.

Sciutto also sees serendipity in this transfer of product without apparent contact at this time of social distancing. “We tested the speed of the box coming down from the slide. There is a need to have more fun, a more playful experience at retail,” he said.

This is the first Sergio Rossi store to offer an exclusive digital experience: the sales team is available to shoppers, who will browse through the e-commerce site in a private shopping session via video conference, or use it to book an appointment in the store.

The plant in San Mauro reopened on May 4 after being closed for about a month-and-a-half and Sciutto said the artisans were “happy to come back to work, to return to a form of social life. The plant is a social aggregator. Psychologically it is important for the artisans, who work with their hands to craft the products,” said Sciutto.

Covering 108,000 square feet, the factory makes it easier to maintain social distancing, said Sciutto, and Plexiglas partitions have been set up when necessary. Other safety measures have been put in place to protect the health of the workers, he underscored.

Sciutto said two Sergio Rossi stores are expected to open — in Tokyo in June and a men’s store at Isetan will bow in August or September.

In 2019, global sales totaled 66 million euros, up 8 percent from the year before.