Italian Family Tailoring in the Age of Globalization

Oct 20, 2015 1061

Merribel Ayres, owner of the Amina Rubinacci boutique in Georgetown, and Alessandro Spada, CEO of the Naples-based brand, brought the style, the elegance and the allure of Amina Rubinacci to the Italian Embassy of Washington DC. Kathleen Parker, award-winning journalist, moderated the event, dressed in a stunning Amina sequined jacket. Joined by Tony Maisto, a rep for the Italo Ferretti neckwear brand in New York, Spada philosophized, "A woman chooses her clothing not only by who she actually is, but also by who she thinks she is." Kathleen quipped, "Clearly by wearing this jacket, I think I am awesome."

From selling online and protecting their brand from counterfeiters, to maintaining the integrity of production as they continue to expand, Maisto and Spada tackled the issues facing every major global fashion house. Both agreed that online sales will demand a portion of their attention, but the focus for growing their brand lies within the authentic customer experience in each of their stores.

Opening the floor for questions, one young lady from the audience raised her hand. "How do you see the brand evolving for the modern woman?" Alessandro pondered and replied, "Our aim is to be pragmatic, to offer a line that is versatile and classic for the professional woman, yes, but with a modern touch."
Spada – son of the legendary Amina – is a champion of "Made in Italy."

Under his passionate leadership, the brand has become a very successful fashion house with a global presence.

After obtaining a degree in Economics, Alessandro started his career far from his family's business. His plan was to build the necessary skills and expertise by working for other important Italian families in the fashion industry. First, Ermenegildo Zegna, then Salvatore Ferragamo. Year after year he took on several professional roles, from sales to marketing, communications to management —motivated increasingly by the desire to handle all the dynamics and complexities of running a global company.

When Alessandro felt he had garnered enough knowledge about family companies, and the "Made in Italy" brand from a global perspective, he returned home to Naples, to his family and to the company founded by his mother, Amina.

Merribel S. Ayres is Founder and President of Lighthouse Consulting Group, LLC. She has been a leader in the Washington business and political communities for three decades.

Merribel Ayres' love of Italian culture and fashion runs deep in her heart. She discovered Italy at 21 while visiting a Florentine friend during a year abroad. Arriving back in New England with her first ever boutique purchase, she was transformed from a baggy blue jeans girl into a sleek ingénue. Today her extended Italian "family" in Milan, Florence and Naples spans three generations.

A Washingtonian for 38 years with a power-broker career in energy and environmental policy, Ayres has traveled extensively. On her first trip to Rome in 2002, she discovered an Amina Rubinacci shop near the foot of the Spanish Steps. "I couldn't believe how perfect the fit was on every garment I tried. I knew these clothes would work well in Washington — a city full of interesting and confident women who want their wardrobe to reflect a signature style of elegance and impact," she says.

Ayres had no idea she would open her own boutique 12 years later. An entrepreneur at heart, she found herself dreaming of starting a new business. Encouraged by Italian friends to represent a "Made in Italy" label in the nation's capital, she contacted the Rubinacci family in Naples.

Within a year, from idea to execution, Ayres opened her own Amina Rubinacci boutique in posh Georgetown!

Amina Rubinacci is the founder of the "Maison" established in Naples in the 1970s. It has become one the most important Italian fashion houses.

Paris defines Amina Rubinacci as "the Queen of Wool", from Christian Dior to Saint Laurent. All of the most important French stylists recognize her elegance and ease of wear of the woolen garments Amina Rubinacci produces. The main characteristics of her fashion house are the continuous research of chromatic solutions, high focus on the realization of the models and patterns and finally a systematic control of the work process.

With the cooperation now of her children the company has enriched the Amina Rubinacci brand offer. Today the total look of the company goes from the production of woolen garments to textile materials and leather clothing. Amina's artisanal value remains unparalleled and solidly rooted in the "Made in Italy" brand after all these years. Indeed, Amina Rubinacci continues to produce every item within the country, recognizing this label as a gold standard in the world economy.

The company boasts a robust wholesale clientele with hundreds of boutique clients worldwide as well as 15 mono-brand stores in Italy, the United States, Russia and Switzerland. Each boutique is revered as a welcoming place where special care is shown to every customer—channeling the original spirit of the grandfather's (Gennaro Rubinacci) iconic tailoring shop.

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