RRD – Roberto Ricci Designs was founded between Grosseto, Tuscany and
the beaches of the Hawaiian island of Maui. Young windsurfer Roberto Ricci
first designed handmade surfboards, later fashion. Today, he has built a
small empire with the ocean at its centre.
1989 was the year Ricci discovered the secrets of the surf gurus. It was
not long before he became a shaper himself, someone who designs and builds
surfboards. In 1994, he launched his first collection under the brand name
RRD – Roberto Ricci Designs. At first, this included only surfboards, later
the clothing line was added, which was developed in collaboration with
Ricci’s friend Roberto Bardini. The first collection consisted of technical
water sports clothing inspired by two different waters: the Mediterranean
and the Pacific.
“Freedom of movement is the essence of the company”
This double inspiration made it possible to create garments that combine
the Mediterranean culture – associated with classic beauty and the serenity
of a “friendly” sea – with the more dynamic characteristics of the Pacific
Ocean, which beats higher (sea) waves. Thus RRD produced swimming trunks
with surf-resistant technical characteristics connected with Mediterranean
style – something completely new. Fabrics such as tartan, sequins, pony fur
and Chinese silk were used, and the brand quickly gained popularity in the
more fashionable and daring Italy.
Parts of the European market is somewhat more restrained and, according
to Ricci, awareness is to rise by increasing its presence in premium
stores. The design has also become a bit calmer. Today, the company focuses
on functional fabrics, including all-rounder Lycra, the company’s
trademark, which is the subject of continuous research. The garments are
freed from anything that is not needed and reinterpreted with a strong
‘Made in Italy’ spirit. “Nothing is sewn, everything is cut with a laser
and then glued. The garments are comfortable, windproof and waterproof and
have a perfect cut combined with a great style,” enthuses Roberto Ricci.
And: “Freedom of movement is the essence of the company”.
In fact, it is easy to imagine wearing pants made of performance fabric
in 30+ degree heat as well, as was the case at the brand’s booth at the
Pitti Uomo. A brand new collection was shown there: denim, made from one
hundred percent Lycra. “A world premiere,” says Ricci. Another highlight of
the new season is a collaboration with Liberty London, whose classic prints
from the archives were used on shirts and blouses made of four-way stretch
polyamide. Each garment is accompanied by the history of the traditional
patterns with names such as “Morris Butterfly” or “Strawberry Thief”.
“We are not green, we are blue like the ocean”
Storytelling is part of the brand’s identity. For six years now,
illustrated novels have been published every season under the RRD label.
They are always related to the sea. ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis
Stevenson is one, or ‘Taiphoon’ by Joseph Conrad and a brand new one, ‘Moby
Dick’ by Herman Melville. The label has a total of twelve different titles
or a circulation of 300,000 copies. “We are almost a publishing house,”
jokes Roberto Ricci.
In addition to storytelling, research plays a prominent role at RRD. The
company’s research department develops new solutions using its Holistic
Technology, a multi-layer overlapping technique that combines unique Lycra
fabrics with open-cell rubber that allows the skin to breathe. Fabrics and
apparel are designed and developed in Italy, while finishes and details are
carefully tested to withstand the market rationalities that put the
production process before the product.
And what about sustainability? “We believe that everyone who loves the
ocean is an environmentalist by nature. We don’t want to use sustainability
as a marketing strategy or greenwash. Our value and supply chain is
certified from start to finish and we try to reduce our waste to a minimum.
But we’re not green, we’re blue, like the ocean.”
Image: PR Roberto Ricci
This article was originally published on FashionUnited DE. Edited
and translated by Simone Preuss.