Global Citizen: Luca Rubinacci
I don’t know what my exact plan is for the future but whatever I will do, I will do it with passion. My father always said that you must do what you love with passion, then it will be successful.
When Luca Rubinacci reminisces about his childhood, it is not nannies and babysitters that he recalls looking after him. Rather, it’s the tailors employed at his father’s business that he credits with shaping him into the successful businessman he is today. While other six-year-olds were being treated with sweets and told to “leave the scissors alone”, Luca’s pockets were being stuffed with pieces of fabric and he was cutting out patterns. It is no wonder then that he speaks of tailoring and his family business with such deep affection and resolute passion for future ambitions.
Born in Naples, Italy, in 1981, Luca is the son of celebrated second-generation tailor Mariano Rubinacci, whose father, Gennaro Rubinacci, established London House in 1932. Gennaro is believed to have made bespoke suits for the likes of Italian actor, author, and poet Eduardo de Filippo. London House later became Rubinacci when Mariano took over the business in 1961. Today, Luca and his father run the boutique tailor alongside Luca’s mother and three sisters — a real family affair.
With a love for the outdoors and sporting taking root in his early schooling years, it initially seemed that Luca would pursue a career in sailing (at some point he was on course to the Olympics). It was when he was in his early 20s though that Luca made the decision to join the family business, not out of pressure and expectation but rather a genuine interest in the family’s traditions and professional heritage. In fact, Luca recalls that, when he joined Rubinacci, his father made it clear that Luca had to establish his own client base, often reminding him that “my clients are my clients, build your own clientele”. Nevertheless, Luca took on the challenge and followed his father’s every footstep with a determination to learn the tricks of the trade his family had mastered over generations.
To assist him, Luca’s father suggested that he study abroad, concerned that local tailors would not treat him fairly (due to his family name) and thus deprive him of real learning. The family selected a neutral place and off Luca went to be instructed at Kilgour (Savile Row). He spent a year in London and returned to Italy in 2002.
Over 15 years later, Luca is now the brand’s face and Creative Director, and he heads up the Milan branch of the business (the London and Naples branches are managed by his sisters). But Rubinacci’s is a truly global firm, with foreign clients accounting for roughly 90% of the firm’s business (which happens to be about 900– 1,000 bespoke suits a year).
A number of reasons spring to mind when pondering the reasons behind the family’s current success. Perhaps one of the most salient is the profound sense of appreciation of customer satisfaction and service care that Luca carries. It’s evident in the way he speaks. “Clients know [our] product is fantastic, but what they come for is the experience, the knowledge we give. It’s very important to listen to your client and assess their needs. The essence of tailoring is to create a lasting relationship — you don’t make a suit to create just one suit, it’s to build a lasting relationship.” Even though Luca has expanded his client base, with booming interest in Dubai, he is mindful that he continues to be a representation of the Mariano brand too: perhaps because of his father’s gentle, but frequent, reminders that “Luca, your clients are still my clients”. It’s this value of customers and respect for the family name that continues to set the Rubinacci brand apart and speaks volumes about Luca’s professional and personal values.
The essence of tailoring is to create a lasting relationship; you don’t make a suit to create just one suit
An active, and avid, social media user, Luca has managed to establish a strong digital presence: he has over 15,000 followers on his Instagram account, on which he regularly flaunts his stylish and creative outfits (mostly bespoke suits by Rubinacci, of course) and shares fashion and style tips. It is this propensity to ‘try’ that makes Luca a valuable member of the Rubinacci team, distinctly advancing the brand and its success.
It goes without saying that Luca is considered one of the best-dressed men around today; he is certainly not afraid to try new and unusual color and fabric combinations. About his dressing choices, he says: “My personal style is always evolving.” Luca’s looks are not only a reflection of his daring, flexible personality but come back to always having clients at the forefront of his thoughts, as he considers himself a “window” for the client. A source of inspiration, if you will.
Even so, he is never at pains to acknowledge the team behind him, which comprises roughly 45 tailors. Luca delightfully considers his work environment to be quintessentially characteristic of a family business: that is, everyone supporting each other around special occasions. The team regularly meets for classic Italian dinners and there is a precious sense of camaraderie among them. However, this never gets in the way of delivering quality pieces for clients, which Luca insists is priority number one. “We have very high standards and we are very precise. All our products are handmade so we need to be very precise. You always have to be on point.”
Recently, the special occasion happened to be Luca’s nuptials to Spanish dentist Maria Barros Paredes. Rubinacci senior was the obvious, and likely only, choice for a tailor to create Luca’s unique look for the day. The newlyweds will honeymoon in Malaysia, where Luca’s penchant for sports and the outdoors will be duly satisfied.
In addition to skiing, Luca particularly enjoys hiking and surfing, and, when he is home, often steals time from his demanding schedule to es- cape to the mountains and “recharge”. If Luca is not outdoors or playing some sport, you will likely find him entertaining guests and preparing his favorite zucchini, aubergine, and shrimp pasta dish with some sea bass and a rosé on the side.
Reflecting on his personal philosophy, Luca shares: “Quality is my personal philosophy. Even if it is a stupid style in a stupid color — the quality must be good. Quality in all aspects of my life.” Is there any wonder why the Rubinacci brand enjoys growing international prestige? Surely not.