“If you are able to lose everything, you are able to gain something” – Carlo Terreni interviews Riccardo Sciutto, CEO of Sergio Rossi

The conversation was shared as part of Dr. Nadzeya Sabatini‘s course Conversations with Industry Experts offered by USI – Università della Svizzera italiana and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne’s Master Program in Digital Fashion Communication.

The live interview “The future of luxury” with Riccardo Sciutto, Group CEO of Sergio Rossi was conducted by Carlo Terreni, Netcomm Suisse President. The article was written by Andrea Juric, Francesca Cotta, Beatrice Aquilini, Larissa Knappe and Asmen Koç- Master’s students in Digital Fashion Communication and edited by Alice Noris – PhD student and Teaching Assistant.

On April 28th, 2020, Netcomm Suisse President, Carlo Terreni had an inspiring exchange of ideas with Sergio Rossi’s CEO, Riccardo Sciutto on how luxury retailers are responding to Covid-19. The students of the Digital Fashion Communication master had the opportunity to join the live stream and learn how the historical luxury fashion brand Sergio Rossi is managing this complex situation, how it has been impacted and what will come next. 

The importance of a company’s past – The positive and determined Riccardo Sciutto started the interview framing the brand: the company has been bought with Investindustrial of Andrea Bonomi 4 years ago from Kering Group with the main idea of rethinking and relaunching the brand, highlighting the importance of the historical, cultural and traditional elements of Sergio Rossi. In addition, he highlighted the significance of the company’s heritage confirming it has been the starting point to emphasize the original soul of Sergio Rossi and to achieve its rebirth. Along with the discussion, the manager and entrepreneur confirmed the best way to improve your business is to study deeply what your company did in the past, with the aim of a better understanding which steps and investments are the most suitable for the future. 

Covid-19, Innovation and Storytelling – Further on, the Sciutto explained how Covid-19 has influenced the organizational and economical side of the brand, he confirmed that the Coronavirus has already started to impact the company around November 2019 due to their collaboration withChina.  While talking about the challenging situation that the field of (not only) luxury fashion brands are going through, he discussed innovative technologies such as gaming, 3D body tech, augmented reality, and some more, mentioning how essential it is to invest in technologies to be updated for this huge digital wave and worldwide situation. Some major factors of the future positive achievements are eCommerce and digital, they are no more in a bubble, on the contrary, they will be the basic elements of a favorable restart. According to his thoughts, the most important thing in this challenging period is to be very flexible and “try to lose everything in your mind: only in this way, you will gain something”. Sciutto also covered the critical topic ofthe brand’s customers and how this could also be differentiated by the Coronavirus consequences: first of all, he argued aboutthe former and the future customers and how the brand will need to consider both. Now more than ever, Sciutto says they will have to take care of their clients in order to keep them, they will workon their psychological side as well, in order to keep them relaxedand ensure theirsafety. In regards ofnew clients on the other hand, the company will need tomake use ofstorytelling: narratives about people, city, dreams, and the future. The CEO believes the brand willcertainlymaintain ahigh quality of productswithout forgetting abouttheir stories, connectionsand make them seem alive while buying a pair of shoes. Some additional important elements they will have to keep in mind are youngercustomers,since they are catchier and speedier to reactionsand geographically speaking, Asian customers will be the most interestingones.

Sustainability and new organizational structures – As Sciutto remarks, future investments will include a new organizational structure, new projects, and also employees. He is in particular interestedinsmall and dedicated companies, that work with passion and with which he can connect and interact in a more direct and flexible way. In general, he thinks businesseswill be totally reinventedin 2020 -extras will be cut, costs will be reduced, they will pay more attention to what is really needed and what can be eliminated. The best will be to work on the advantages that influence every area of the companies. Coming to the relevant issue of sustainability,Sciutto underlines that he introduced it as soon as he entered Sergio Rossi; he believes sustainability is a relevant topic in current fashion industries in terms of energy, environment and social. Therefore, he specifically divedinto the social importance of sustainability, such as local communities.In the particular case of Italy, he talked about all the small- or family companies that are extremely meaningful to successfully build the company as a whole. The next step will be to think globally and work locally in a globalized world- local is thus becoming a crucial element. As Terreni went on with the questions related to what he looks for in the next working profilesSciutto mentioned the following: skills such as capability of adaptation, as well ascreativity and flexibility are essential and some of the main factors. The goal is to find passionate and enthusiastic minds, that have “fire in their eyes”. They will help inmapping the company, screening the general situation, and improving it. The main psychologicalpoint of view will be the focus of employees and customers. While closing the interview, Riccardo Sciutto again explains that everything will be different and there are many aspects that have to be taken into account. In such a difficult situation the two confronted the political and economic assistance related to the Covid-19 situation that industries are receiving in Italy comparedto Switzerland. 

In conclusion, Sciutto gave a very encouraging talk by saying that nowadays, more than ever, we need to be brave and use audacity: “if you are down, you need to react and fight, always having a plan of attack in your mind”. We need to be ready to lose everything, now is the moment of doing something special and strange as a visionary and courageous company.

Additional Sources for further reading and interests in the topic:

  • Author Guidelines for 8 – Riccardo Sciutto expects Gaming to be one of the major trends in luxury fashion. “Gamification” is the term, which stands behind the thought of including gaming into the brands’ appearance. It enables an interactive and innovative approach to engage the target audience and acquire new customers. The current article focuses on the relationship between gamification and its impact on brand engagement and brand equity through an online survey. Many luxury fashion brands are already using gamification to increase the commitment with their customers. Louis Vuitton, for example, in 2016 used a popular game character from Final Fantasy to advertise a capsule collection.
  • How Luxury Brands Are Honoring Their Heritage In The Digital Age – The present article concentrates on the importance of the communication of the heritage and the brand culture in the digital era. The ability to exploit the storytelling as an instrument to share the brands values, the idea of craftsmanship and the history of the brand, do not only strengthen the brand image, but they also help the brands’ credibility and to reinforce the relationship with the customers.
  • Luxury Should Use The COVID-19 Crisis To Accelerate Change – As Riccardo Sciutto explained a flexible and adaptable approach is needed to accelerate change during this pandemic and therefore push towards new directions. This article explains the importance for fashion brands of being flexible and fast in embracing change in order to provide an experiential luxury on the e-commerce platforms. Through augmented and virtual reality, the post-Covid-19 retail experience could therefore be characterized by a more digital experience, where physical stores might still play a significative role, through the implementation of mass-surveillance.
  • The Future of Design in Retail? Revolutionary Retail Brands Have Soul – A video that shares Riccardo Sciutto’s innovative idea and approach concerning physical stores. The retail should be able to provide a new kind of experience, taking inspiration from the online environment and to offer a creative space able to tell stories and to engage customers, always maintaining high safety standards.  The video tackles topics such the gig economy, the circular economy and the offline exodus, which led to an exponential increase of e-commerce platforms. It is believed that the retail of the future will move from transactional to relational, as transactions can brilliantly happen online, physical stores can become experimental places using elements that have been traditionally characterized the online environment such as localization and personalization.