MILAN — Ahead of Moncler’s Mondogenius event today, Remo Ruffini did not hide the anticipation he felt — or the dose of trepidation.
“This is another evolution, I’ve always said that Genius must create new emotions, but it’s challenging, every day is a learning day,” said the chairman and chief executive officer of Moncler, which for the first time will present its Genius collections through a digital experience across five cities — New York, Milan, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul — and through the vision of 11 designers, all under one show, which will be hosted by 15-time Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys.
Ruffini’s curiosity and bold moves — together with finely honed business strategies — have fueled the success and growth of Moncler, but the entrepreneur is always seeking new ways to fan the development of the brand. Relating how he conceived of Mondogenius, Ruffini said that about 18 months ago he felt the need to create “this festival of cross-pollination,” rather than stage physical events as he had for the previous three editions of the Genius presentations. The goal is “to engage different communities around the world in different ways.”
He acknowledged that the choice of cities chosen for Mondogenius were relevant commercially, but that the priority is to reach “the micro-cultures” in each.
Physical locations were needed to first launch and start developing Moncler Genius, setting up a place for a community, he explained, “but now, in order to create a strong community of different cultures” Ruffini felt Mondogenius was a necessary step. “We’ve always been inclusive but now we need to be so even more, and with a different approach.”
Previously, “the physical event helped to communicate the brand, and now we’ve created a platform,” setting up relationships with digital multibrands, media partners and dailies. The show will be hosted live via a dedicated microsite (mondogenius.moncler.com), Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, WeChat, Weibo and Douyin, as well as a network of Moncler Genius partners inclusive of e-tailers and media sites.
The product remains key, of course, Ruffini said, but “we still need to create a culture to fascinate the community. Until a few years ago, [brands] had a direct relationship with the consumers, but now it’s the other way around and you must conquer the community so that it will participate to the brand experience, whether physically in stores or digitally.”
Ruffini said the broadcast will help “talk about a new world and our world, which is important, but the goal is to succeed in setting up a dialogue with different cultures and speak in a language that is understandable by different cultures. It’s difficult but we are trying and I think we have a goal that is unique in this industry. I am happy to be in this world but I want to be unique in this world. We are not a huge conglomerate, we are a small company and uniqueness is a fundamental weapon in any project.”
Indeed, he believes cross-pollination “is starting to become a fundamental cornerstone for Genius.” For example, he said that designer Jonathan Anderson, one of the Genius designers with his JW Anderson brand, has created a short film with director Luca Guadagnino. “The product, interpreted by the director, can express different emotions and reach out to different cultures that are micro-niches which make us into a brand,” observed Ruffini.
Through the event, Moncler will unveil the next roster of designers working on the Genius project. Some are returning and include, in addition to JW Anderson, Veronica Leoni and Sergio Zambon for Moncler 1952 Woman and Man, respectively; Sandro Mandrino for Moncler Grenoble; Craig Green; Moncler 1017 by Alyx 9SM, and Moncler Frgmt by Hiroshi Fujiwara.
Joining this year are Hyke; Palm Angels; Dingyun Zhang, and Gentle Monster.
Keys will host the event from Milan, which will include other talents including actress and singer Victoria Song live from Shanghai; Solange from New York, and Guadagnino from Milan, among others.
Ruffini said that Keys “has gone through a transformation as we have, too. She has an incredible voice, a strong strategy, and a very contemporary vision, reaching out to the younger generations.”
Moncler Genius was first launched in 2018 and Ruffini began to evolve it with an increased focus on the brand’s customers last year. The executive never strayed from his objective to “create emotions and offer new ideas,” started exploring new territories and launched a new product with luxury luggage brand Rimowa.
Milan remains “fundamental” for the brand, described as “one of the cities with the most potential” and that is “recovering the level of energy it had at the end of 2019.” He also spoke of the increasing relevance of Italy, which “has gained more credibility and can become a leader in Europe, also in light of the changes on the macro political scene in Germany and France,” and he praised the stature of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who earlier this week said he was aiming for a gross domestic product growth of 10 percent in two years.
In fact, Moncler has just unveiled a sprawling 6,804-square-foot flagship in Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
“The physical experience remains very important, it’s the first relation with the consumer,” said Ruffini.
The unit was designed by Moncler’s go-to architecture studio Gilles & Boissier, carefully preserving and restoring the storied building’s decorative features — from the stucco ceilings, to the ornamental gold-leaves.
“I took care of it as if it were a child,” said Ruffini of the attention paid to the store’s development.
And to tickle the senses, Moncler introduced the first candy corner in the store, including sweets from historic Turin artisan confectioners, Stratta, which dates back to 1836.
The boutique carries Moncler’s men’s, women’s and children’s collections, the Moncler Grenoble skiwear and the latest collaborations from Moncler Genius.