Sergio Rossi opens first boutique in the Middle East
CEO Riccardo Sciutto tells us all about it
Luxury Italian shoe brand Sergio Rossi, worn regularly by the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé, has recently opened the doors to its first store in the Middle East. Located in The Dubai Mall's new Fashion Avenue extension, the store is home to an array of the brand's most coveted styles. Riccardo Sciutto is the man at the helm of the brand, having taking the reigns as CEO in 2016, and he was recently in town to fete the new opening. When asked why Dubai was the location of choice for the brand's first store, he told us, "In Dubai you have people from 160 countries in the world, so why wouldn't we be here? It was crucial to start here. My goal is to open in Abu Dhabi, and all the other countries around. We can learn something from Dubai for the other countries — it is so innovative and we can take experience from here to our countries. It is very advanced."
The brand launched its store with a special collection designed for the region in its factory. And speaking of the factory, the brand is one of the only shoe brands to have its own dedicated space, which Sciutto tells us allows them to "make 1,000 pairs of shoes per day. We produce over 80 per cent of our shoes in our factory and a total of 240,000 pairs of shoes per day." Couple that with the fact that each pair takes between 14 and 28 hours to produce with at least 130 people working on it, and it's no wonder the brand has remained a firm favourite amongst women for years. Riccardo says that's also down to their exceptional fit. "We have a secret: we have one fit worldwide. From Japan to China, Middle East, Europe, America — it's one fit. We are the only company making the shaping wood internally, which is why the size is the same all over."
Interestingly, the brand doesn't have one designer attached to it. "I have a team of four designers," he explains. "If I put the name of the designer over Sergio Rossi, which is an incredible name, what is the point? We have the story, we have the heritage, we don't need a designer name. If the designer leaves, we are left and we become a trend. In this case, I cannot tell the heritage story because the designer wants to put his name and to promote his story through Sergio Rossi, and he/she wants to kill the past whereas I want to revere the past to have a different story. Of course this would make communication easy in the short term but I am looking at the long term."
Heritage is important, he notes, although it must be dealt with in a modern way. "Think heritage, play digital, I say this all the time. And the millennials love it. You cannot just be online or offline. You need to create an experience. Perhaps millennials will discover you in store and they have a good experience so they will then buy you more online."
Overall, he says although the brand's Middle Eastern customer doesn't greatly differ from its European counterparts, the inherent love of luxury products in the region means there's little need for incentives to purchase. "For me this customer has the capability to enjoy life during the day and there's also a casual feeling here but with more of a luxury spin than basic. They want the capability to be a little more expressive in their choices but not basic. Also here you don't have a middle class, so it's high, high class and high class — so this is the reason why you can't have the opening price version. People here buy because they like the product not because there is an opening price."
Plus, he says, "There's opportunity here with people who work in offices because that's what Sergio was first known for so it can be modern shoes for the woman of today."
If it's good enough for Beyoncé...