MILAN — Ruffo owner Giacomo Corsi is relaunching the Ruffo Research line, which started in 1998 and was suspended in January 2003 because of difficult market conditions, and has picked Italian designer Riccardo Tisci to take on the project.
Tisci’s first collection for Ruffo, the Tuscan-based leather goods company, is to bow for spring-summer 2005. He has signed a three-year contract, a departure from the past practice in which Ruffo Research had changed designers every year, which Corsi said was a commercial limitation.
Ruffo is considered one of the finest specialty manufacturers in Italy, supplying leatherwear to Prada, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli, among others. Ruffo, located in Calcinaia, outside Pisa, reported sales of $24 million last year. The last Ruffo Research designer was a Belgian, Haider Ackermann, who followed Alexander Mathieu, Sophia Kokosalaki, Véronique Branquinho and Raf Simons.
“Ruffo Research is an important project that has given us visibility and helped grow the company through the collaboration with young designers, but now we want to give continuity to the line,” Corsi said in a telephone interview.
Acknowledging the challenging market conditions, Corsi said, “There is room for new, innovative products.” He described Tisci, the first Italian designer to work on the line, as a “quality designer and highly motivated.”
Tisci, 29, worked with designers and fashion houses such as Antonio Berardi, Justin Oh, Stefano Guerriero, Missoni and Ratti after attending London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins on scholarship. Most recently, he revamped the Italian brand Coccapani and worked for leather goods company Fabrizio Corsi.
Tisci, known for his conceptual designs and couture-like details, said in a telephone interview that Ruffo Research reflected his style and he was attracted by the prestige of the brand.
“This is an avant-garde line, and I feel honored and proud to work for a company with such a tradition in artisanal craftsmanship, but also impressively efficient,” he said.
Corsi said with Ruffo Research, he wants to reach 100 points of sale worldwide, and focus on Japan, where Tisci has a following, and the U.S.
“This is a market which is very sensitive to an innovative product,” said Corsi, who would like to reach sales of $2.4 million in the first year. The line will also be available at the Ruffo stores in Florence, Milan and Moscow, which opened last December.
While the line will still focus on leather, it also will be more complete, with extensive research on fabrics and eveningwear pieces, Tisci said.