Studying 70 Years of Moncler with Remo Ruffini

On the music database, “Moncler” has 983 matches in the lyrics. Two tracks by 21 Savage, bank account and ball without, are among the most popular entries with 2.8 million and 972.5,000 views respectively. In song titles, “Moncler” appears in 163 entries, with Juice WRLDs Purple Moncler at the top of the list with 143,000 searches. As the track’s chorus unfolds on “Walking ’round Atlanta in a purple Moncler,” a Reddit loophole brings to life a thread dedicated to the rapper’s favorite puffer jacket: In a screenshot from his now-deleted Instagram profile, is Juice wears a Moncler Men’s 2 1952 Purple Down Lorent Vest that says @moncler SPONSER ME PLS.

in the bank account, 21 Savage mentions Moncler along with other luxury brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent in a classic rap game ethos to show off wealth and build a specific personality that builds on the lifestyle choices that come with it. Rap semiotics has always embraced brand mentions as a means of storytelling, a direct result of the changing cultural landscape and the idea it projects into society. Music lyrics reflect the key indicator of advancement and novelty in the cultural landscape, and subcultures constantly merge and appropriate styles to create the lexicon of the global youth.

In its 70 years, Moncler has hijacked the linearity between mainstream and niche through ubiquity, functioning as a premium luxury brand while being present and appropriate for almost every social occasion – from ski resorts and catwalks front row to Christmas dinners with family and c – Suite corporate board meetings. This horizontal expansion of the brand is the result of a sophisticated strategy developed and updated by Remo Ruffini, Chairman and CEO of Moncler, since 2003, the year he took over the company and started an internal revolution that eventually led to the version of Moncler led that we know today.

“When I bought Moncler in 2003, it was a very different time,” says Ruffini from his Milan office. “It was a time when Moncler was a historical asset in sportswear stores. I began to focus on corporate structure, quality and branding to push the brand out of this world.” To elevate the Moncler product, Ruffini entered the luxury market in 2005 through collaborations with Junya Watanabe and Nicolas Ghesquière, and opened a flagship store in Paris in 2008 Hyper-luxury Rue Saint Honoré. “That was a pretty powerful statement influencing the customer’s perception of the brand,” he says. “From that moment on, we became what we are today.”

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Most brands manifest changes on the surface, telling stories about how people consumed over a period of time. As for Moncler, “the brand has gone through quite a few changes,” as Ruffini puts it. This time capsule approach makes sense for a brand that adopted luxury market strategies when everything in fashion pointed in that direction. A brand formerly known for its best-selling product – the down jacket – presents Paris Fashion Week with a haute couture collection designed by Giambattista Valli (Valli directed Moncler’s Gamme Rouge from 2008 to 2017 Line). A brand synonymous with Italian folklore hired American designer Thom Browne to head its Gamme Bleue line from 2009 to 2017.

If you look at the history of Moncler, you can also see the historical shift from luxury to hype culture. The brand was one of the first to embrace the language of hype from the start, which has now become a global phenomenon. Before that, as Ruffini puts it, there was a process of “casualizing” the entire fashion industry that laid the groundwork for the streetwear revolution. Men’s clothing grew as a driving segment through relaxed and comfort-oriented products that retained a quality similar to luxury, but no longer exhibited exclusivity. Casualization, according to Ruffini, is the answer to the “super relax” mentality that was leading customers to reconsider the traditional menswear canon: the shift from the Oxford shirt to the graphic hoodie. Since then, Moncler has been working to break away from the traditional realm of fashion, a strategy that for Ruffini leads to being contemporary.

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Streetwear came to Moncler as “a way to be more inclusive and more contemporary at the same time… a way to survive fashion,” says Ruffini, who also printed the slogan on a giant banner to celebrate the brand’s IPO in 2013. This ‘survive fashion’ mindset led the brand to seek collaborations with streetwear masterminds: Pharrell Williams had been a collaborator since 2008, and Virgil Abloh worked on a series of collaborative collections via Off White from 2016. In particular, Abloh’s approach to “streetwear as an art movement” shortened the distance between Moncler and the public that characterizes the brand in said “movement” and visual culture.

For Mr. Ruffini, being contemporary means “balancing the romanticization of nostalgia with innovation”. This modus operandi reflects the urgency to “outlive” the capital-F fashion mechanism by reinventing the core definition of luxury without denaturing its legacy. Moncler is and always has been deeply rooted in its archive, although reimagined for forward-thinking customers. “Fashion isn’t part of my culture,” says Ruffini. “I don’t have a creative director. I’ve always believed that luxury is more about products that last and to achieve that you have to invest in quality and make a great product that stands above trends.” In the wake of today’s archival craze is Moncler itself is in a position of power in this particular trend.

Ruffini has preserved Moncler’s archive with an editorial practice: he edits products down, taking them out of stock for seasons to prevent hyperinflation and short-term hype, then reissuing these classics in different colors and fabrics. That’s exactly the case with the Himalayan jacket, which was inspired by Moncler’s first Himalayan expedition, which was a best-seller before Ruffini took the helm of the company. He temporarily took it down to re-issue a new, revised version in 2005, renaming it Maya. Drake wore a red dress in his iconic Hotline Bling video in 2015, which skyrocketed Moncler sales. Again, Ruffini has cut the product from the brand’s range to re-launch an updated version to celebrate the brand’s 70th anniversary this year.

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Ruffini is a very quirky breed of CEO whose vision is very heavily invested in everything the brand produces. After years with guest designers and brand synergies, he expanded the format for a new, hybrid collaborative mindset. Moncler Genius began as a digital initiative in 2018 to reflect on the new state of the creative industries, where brands can operate across the content spectrum and become platforms themselves. “We have to get away from seasonality,” Ruffini told his team. “We have to present new concepts to our audience every month.”

This strategy evolved into a physical experience with MONDOGENIUS, presented in Milan in 2021, where eleven fashion designers – from Craig Green to Palm Angels and ALYX – hacked Moncler’s code to reinterpret its essence through collections, performances and videos. Here Moncler was at the forefront of another trend presented to the public: the experientialization of everything and the dematerialization of the fashion object.

As Moncler prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary in the age of immateriality, the brand will also launch a series of NFT tokens in collaboration with Antoni Tudisco. Focused on the product, Ruffini firmly believes in innovation as the gateway to the future. “I think the logic behind digital selling right now is that of the two-dimensional catalog,” he argues. “It’s been interesting to see brands create digital images and products, but I don’t think this will be a growing sector unless we bring some physical experience to it. We have to find a way to make this virtuality a reality.”

Escaping fashion – or “surviving” fashion, as Ruffini likes to say – is more of a method than an empty slogan. “It’s a Moncler year,” Juice WRLD wrote in another leaked track. And 2022 is definitely a Moncler year: the 70th, to be precise.

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