Riccardo Tortato: “Look out for the one not wearing a suit - he's the boss”
Riccardo Tortato, e-commerce head and men's fashion director at department stores TSUM and DLT, gives an insider take on the little-known world of Russian menswear trends, in conversation with FashionNetwork.com.
FashionNetwork.com: What did you find in Tsum's menswear department when you first came here?
Riccardo Tortato: I started as - and I still am - the head of e-commerce and I've also been asked by the owner to become the head of all the men's businesses. The menswear department was really, really different. I found a good level of choice here, but a lot of young brands were missing. My idea was to develop the informal part of the business. I had the feeling, and it proved to be pretty correct, that menswear in fashion was moving in another direction. The suit was not the statement of success anymore. Men wanted to be more comfortable.
FNW: What is the difference between Russian and European men in terms of how they dress?
R.T.: Russian or Moscovite? There's quite a big difference between Moscow and the rest of Russia. But I don't see any differences between typical Moscow clients and any European or American customers. At a certain level, obviously. Maybe Americans are sportier or more into easy wear, but in general there's no big difference. I never wanted to have a Russian point of view, otherwise they wouldn't have called someone born in Italy and living in New York. My approach is really global. We're in 2017. Differentiating between one place and another is a bit anachronistic. Obviously, every single market has its own specificities. Even between France and Italy there’s a difference, or between an Englishman and a German. The difference is based on the DNA of the people and of the country. And Russians travel a lot. So, if you have someone that travels a lot, sees different places, it's good when you make him find similar things back home. It's like with restaurants. Here there are a lot of good restaurants because when people return home from Paris or other cities they want to eat the same thing as abroad. The same with fashion. Actually, it's even more competitive than in a lot of other places. They also have a good buying capacity and they are spoilt clients, in a positive way - they know what they want.
FNW: But if there are still some differences in the DNA of the people, are there some brands that sell better in Russia? For example, the stereotype of a severe-looking Russian man that wants to be dressed in Brioni?
R.T.: No, it's not like that anymore. It was probably correct several years ago. We can't say that Russian men all wear Brioni, because if it was like that, Brioni would make up most of our business and this is not true, even if it's a good-performing brand. There are other ones which perform well: Valentino, Stone Island, Dolce & Gabbana, DSquared. Givenchy is one of the best performers. Loro Piana is a label that performs well if we're talking about rich and classy people. The suit is not a statement of wealth anymore. Here it’s not like that, and neither is it in New York. If you see the really big people on Wall Street, they don't wear suits. You go to an investment bank in America and want to understand who is who. Look out for the one that doesn't wear a suit - he's the boss. I never saw, for example, [Roman] Abramovich wearing a suit.
FNW: What brands did you bring to Tsum?
R.T.: 37 of them. Off-White, NikeLab, Yeezy, Watanabe, Yohji, Sacai. That part was missing a lot [of this kind of brand].
FNW: What is the space 'On_Tsum' that you created recently?
R.T.: I wanted a place to buy exclusive products and listen to some good music. The surface is about 200 square metres. It's a very sophisticated place. It's difficult to notice certain things, you feel it but you don't understand. For example, its lights are completely different from anywhere else in Tsum. There are no mirrors because I wanted to have some sort of museum-type of lights to display products. For 99% of those items there are only 2-3 [available]; a lot of things just one.
FNW: Does Tsum's menswear department have everything today?
R.T.: Yes. Nothing is missing. I have all that I wanted to have.
FNW: What are you plans for the future of Tsum's Menswear?
R.T.: Firstly, I'm the head of e-commerce. This is the area where we have a lot to do and where I focus a lot of my energy. If we talk about the men's part - there is still work to do. It's like I took a block of marble and I started the sculpture. Before there was a block of marble, now there's a sculpture. I should do some decor and make it smoother. But the main block is still there.
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