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Interview: Luca Rubinacci

Luca Penny Loafer1

He grew up in a tailoring family in Naples. Moved to Milano. And became an icon across the globe. Luca Rubinacci has been leading with style and smile since day one and to many the phrase “heellooo everyooonne”

LUCA INTERVIEW

He grew up in a tailoring family in Naples. Moved to Milano. And became an icon across the globe. Luca Rubinacci has been leading with style and smile since day one and to many the phrase “heellooo everyooonne” has become a daily smile drug. We followed Rubinacci from the city of Milan to the Lake of Como for our campaign shoot for the penny loafer and jumper boot.

When Luca Rubinacci opens the door to his attic apartment in Milano I ask him how he’s doing. “Very good my friend, very good. Come in.” Maria, Luca’s wife, comes out with a big smile and a jaw-droppingly cute daughter Ines in her arms. “Do you get this?” I ask our photographer Abraham. Moments like these need to be captured.

We are meeting Luca at his home in the center of Milan on September 21. We are meeting to prepare the outfits for our photoshoot. All clothes are from Luca’s personal wardrobe. Suits from his grandfather, from his father and his own creations are neatly organized and prepared on the couch.

Luca Rubinacci wears Morjas Penny Loafers

“Wow these are absolutely stunning” Luca boasts when getting his hands on a pair of jumper boots. “Amazing job. And these loafers.. wow. I will wear them a lot. Really really good job. This shoot will be amazing.” Are we saying this to highlight MORJAS? No. This how Luca is. He is authentic. Either he is all-in or not. Either he loves a brand or he doesn’t. He is genuine. The real deal. What you see is what you get.

I’m flattered and humbled by Luca. Here is a man that doesn’t do much collaborations. Before we (MORJAS) and Luca did our first collab back in May 2019, Luca had only done collabs with Patek Philippe and Hublot. I asked what made him do it. “Your brand, your business model, your quality and the fact that you make them in Spain which I love” he says. What started out as a business partnership has grown to friendship. Luca is a person that takes care of the people around him. Last time I was in Milano doing other business Luca brought me to see his friends and took me to his local favourite. This is a man that has the prime minister on speed dial and worldwide celebrities asking him to make their creations. Whatever Luca does – he does with a big portion of humility. It’s like a guiding force in everything he does. The best thing about it? I don’t think he knows it himself. It’s just there. As a compass.

Fast-forward to the morning after. Destination: Lake Como.

Raindrops are dripping. Like small air bubbles filled with humid and chilled water are hitting the streets. Even the bloody rain has a nice touch to it in Italy. Rays of sun are fighting their ways through the light grey clouds. Luca drives up in his british racing green Range Rover. “Let’s go – destination Como!”. You thought you’ve experience tight driving when visiting London or Paris? Think again. “I’m Neapolitan. Driving is in our blood.” With millimeter precision he steers the roaming beast through the tights alleys of Milan as if it were his own pocket. He could do this blind fold.

Luca Rubinacci wears Morjas The Penny Loafers

Henrik: I’m going to start recording, OK?

Luca: Go my friend.

How old are you?
I’m 38. Feeling like 20.

Family?
My wonderful wife Maria and my princess daughter Ines.

What do you have for breakfast?
Porridge with some fruit. Sometimes an avocado toast. Then I have avena (oat) milk. Very important for the health.

Favourite coffee?
Caffè Mauro. It’s a typical coffee from the south of Italy. It’s very nice. Very strong. I like to drink it without sugar.

Favourite drink for an aperitif?
Ahh Henrik. You know this more than anyone. Gin Tonic.

Secret indulgence?
I’m a man that loves all the beautiful and good things in life. You know. I like the beauty. In all its form. I don’t have a special thing. I like to enjoy everything that’s around me.

For someone investing in a bespoke suit for the first time, what advice would you give them?
You need to understand that you are investing in something for life. It’s not something you just buy and wear. You are buying something that will be part of your wardrobe for life. You need to think smart and see this as a fundamental part of your growing wardrobe. Think smart and build from the bottom-up so you have a good platform to stand on. A classic navy suit is the first step. Then you build from there. Going from the most classic and versatile, to more personal selections after time.

When you invest in bespoke it grows, it doesn’t change.

I have suits that I’m wearing for 20 years now. And I even have a lot of suits from my grandfather and my father. This is the best thing with investing in bespoke. It ages over time and just becomes better and better.

My mentor, Sergio Loro Piana, God bless his soul, used to tell me when I was 25 “Luca I buy bespoke suits from your house not because I need new ones. But because I don’t want to waste and wear out my old ones.” The point being that when you grow your bespoke suit wardrobe carefully you take care of all pieces with love and care. In the end you don’t want to wear something to the limit that you run the risk of wearing out.

It’s the same thing with the shoes you know. You shouldn’t just buy a pair of shoes and wear that same pair all the time, because they will then wear out. You need to continuously build your shoe wardrobe so you can use different shoes for different times. Hence they will age with dignity over time and you get the maximum beauty and quality out of everything.

Luca Rubinacci wears Morjas Jumper Boot Grain

What fabric would you recommend to your first bespoke suit?
Two-ply hopsack also known for many as Fresco (which is more like a brand). Open width wool. Wrinkle free. Works for many occasions and will be essential throughout your life.

What is an essential wardrobe staple you always bring when travelling?
A blue blazer.

Best winter shoes to wear during fall/winter?
I go quite a lot to the mountains during winter and then prefer to wear boots. And if it’s raining in the city I like to wear boots too. But these loafers that you have made with the thin rubber sole is perfect. Very good combination with the grain leather and the rubber sole. A little bit warmer and helps to keep you dry from the rain.

Luca Rubinacci wears Morjas Penny Loafer Grain

What’s the smartest advice you’ve been given?
Be yourself and have a good sense. My father has been telling me this since I was a little kid. You come a long way just by having good sense. It seems simple to have good, common sense – but as a matter of fact it’s something that you have to bring in your life every day, so it develops over time. Just reminding yourself of “Is this good, common sense? Does this make sense?”. It helps me in everything from business to personal life.

If you could speak to your 10 younger Luca, what would say to that Luca?
Keep doing what you are doing. I like what I have been doing so far. I wouldn’t want to change any of the mistakes I’ve made. Of course, I have made mistakes too, but these are good lessons that makes you grow.

Milano. What can’t you miss when visiting?
There is a lot of good sightseeing in Milano. One of the most remarkable things is “Il Cenacolo” (The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci). And the good thing during the pandemic is that there are almost no people. Usually you need one year (!) in advance to book it, but now you can book with three days in advance which is fantastic. And nobody knows about this now. This is one of the most remarkable paintings in the world and something that really takes your breath away.

Milano is really nice all year round, but for the summer I prefer to visit Naples which is my hometown.

What inspires you?
Everything. Everything I see gets me inspired. A bit of here and there. I can see a small detail when walking that gets me inspired. The beauty is to understand that there is beauty in almost everything. You just need to keep your eyes open and always be curious.

Style icon?
Actually I don’t have one. I like to grow inspiration from everything. I can see something that gets me inspired in old pictures. I can see something in new pictures that gets me inspired. But I don’t like to have a specific icon that I look up to. I am myself and I have my own personal style.

Luca Rubinacci wears Morjas The Jumper Boot

We know your name is Luca. Any middle name?
My name is actually not Luca! I’m Gennaro Rubinacci. My real name is Gennaro. It’s a funny story.

Gennaro is the name of my grandfather and the one who actually founded Rubinacci back in 1932. As a Neapolitan it’s very common that you take the same name as your grandfather.

My father wanted to call me Gennaro, but my mother hated it. Absolutely hated it. So what my father did was to put Gennaro as my first name but when he came home my mother got super angry and said “OK, his name is going to be Gennaro, but we are going to call him Luca”. So what happened is that they really never put down Luca in my passport or documents, so my real name is Gennaro – but my nickname and the name that everyone knows me by is Luca.

This has caused problems sometimes when people for example have booked airplane tickets in Luca Rubinacci and when I arrive to the airport I can’t go – because Luca is not a name in my passport haha.

If I someday get a son I will name him Mariano, because it’s the name of my father. But my wife Maria already said she didn’t like it so she said she will do the same thing as my mother and call him another nickname.

Tell me about the Rubinacci family
I have three sisters. My twin sister Chiara who is based in London and runs the Rubinacci store in London. Marcella and Alessandra live in Naples and they run other parts of the business. Everyone works in the family business. So we are four children and everyone is working in the company in one way or another.

  • I take care of all the marketing, the collection and all the bespoke clients.
  • Chiara manages the London store and all the finances.
  • Marcella manages all the e-commerce.
  • Alessandra manages the Naples store and the quality control of the bespoke area in Naples.

You have a wonderful wife, Maria, who is from Spain. How did you meet?
I had a cocktail and invited a lot of friends. One of my best friends brought Maria and we connected so I said “What’s happening here!? We have to go to lunch tomorrow!”. So we had lunch, then an ice cream, then another lunch, then a dinner and then we ended up getting married and now have a wonderful daughter together. Now we’ve been together seven years. 

Rubinacci was founded in 1932. I’ve seen the brand initials “LH” in some of your suits. What’s the story?
The King of Savoy asked my grandfather to bring the best tailors in Naples to make him clothes. My grandfather was an art dealer and had good taste so the King wanted his opinions on clothing.  So my grandfather decided to open an atelier. But he didn’t want his name on the atelier because he didn’t want to associate his art dealing business with the clothing business. Therefore he came up with the name LH which is for “London House”. And as you can see on the logo of LH there is a crown and this crown was given by the King of Savoy in 1941 after becoming an official supplier to the Royal family.

Luca Rubinacci wears Morjas Loafer Grain

What are some of the success factors for Rubinacci? What advice would you give to other people running a business and wanting to grow?
Be yourself. Have good sense.  Look around as much as you can. Be curious. Get inspired. It really comes down to this.

How do you de-stress and clear your mind?
I do a lot of sports. Love kitesurfing, especially in Galicia where my wife is from. During winter I love snowboarding and I go a lot to the mountains. St Moritz is very nice. Doing these sports puts your attention to just being in the now and not focusing on anything else. It’s by far my favourite way to relax.

[Turning off recorder. Luca smiles. Drives out to the left lane and unleashes the hors powers while mumbling “it will be a very nice day in Como. Very nice.”]

Our campaign shoot with Luca was done at Mandarin Oriental in Lake Como. Photographer is Abraham Engelmark. Creative direction and styling by Henrik Berg and Luca Rubinacci.

The Jumper Boot Luca Rubinacci