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 count on 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 purposeful.
They’re extra like Paolo Scafora or Enzo Bonafé, or the Kiton advanced not far-off from right here: post-war institutions with out the centuries-old buildings which can be extra frequent within the UK.
It appeared like Rifugio was going to be comparable, as we approached alongside a motorway offshoot, previous Pompeii after which stopping outdoors 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 avenue, apparently, between low brick partitions hung with foliage.
The rationale for the weird location is that the Rifugio headquarters is definitely an previous villa – two folks unconnected with the corporate nonetheless reside there in residences.
Surrounded by tall palms, it has a fountain, a small backyard and murals. Seagulls from the Mediterranean wheel overhead.
The placement was chosen partly for its comfort: Alfredo Rifugio lives 5 minutes in a single path, Alfonso Rifugio 5 within the different. The remainder of the corporate has progressively crammed it up over time.
That group remains to be comparatively small although: 25 workers, 5 of that are family members.
There’s a slicing 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 all the pieces else feels very residential in scale.
That is maybe shocking, given Rifugio’s popularity. They’re in all probability the largest title for luxurious leather-based and suede within the south of Italy, and although leather-based is a small trade right here in comparison with the north, they do make for a lot of luxurious manufacturers.
That stated, 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 lined 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 title on. There’s nonetheless a few of that, however it’s a tiny proportion – we solely noticed one different model on our tour.
For customers 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 an inventory of present stockists on the backside of this text, by the best way, as on our unique article on Rifugio in 2019 (which incorporates extra background on the corporate). Rifugio are about to re-start MTM trunk exhibits below their title 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, however it’s a bit like evaluating a bespoke blazer with a melton pea coat: the largest distinction between these two is kind and magnificence, 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 purchase; the shearlings really feel simply as mushy. These are usually not jackets constructed for any sort of onerous put on, however they’re lovely and greater than a bit 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 sides and seams of Rifugio jackets, which I’ve to say I like solely when it’s refined.
And final, Exhibit C: my responsible pleasure, the factor I might 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 varieties 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 possible be mugged anyplace outdoors of Mayfair if I did.
With regards to hand ending (from a few paragraphs in the past), I didn’t realise how a lot of the interior elements 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 principally within the brief/slim fashion of up to date Naples; the tackle a Harrington was terribly gentle. And there was a beautiful white calf. Extremely impractical, however then there may be 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.
Essential stockists are listed beneath, most of whom additionally provide MTM. Rifugio can be restarting their very own trunk exhibits for MTM this 12 months, 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 Seashore
- Sartoria Pardi – Mexico Metropolis
- Solito -Mexico Metropolis
- Senator – Tajikistan