Redefining Italian Swimwear
Inspired by the aesthetics of the Mediterranean and the Italian sixties, the classic drawstring swimsuit was redesigned for a tailored cut and manufactured in Italy with a keen eye for sartorial detail.
Founded in Milano by Anna Laura Hoefer and Oliviero Muzi Falconi, Ripa Ripa stands for spontaneous, understated elegance combined with contemporary design and traditional Italian craftsmanship. Their swimsuits embody the essence of the Italian summer.
Portici is a small town south of Naples, right at the foot of the Vesuvio, probably known for its historical railway line along the coast rather than for swimsuit or shirt making. Their atelier is hidden in the basement of an unassuming, red residential block, just behind the railway station and a few minutes from the sea. It was specialised in making hand-sewn shirts for the most renowned Neapolitan houses – the sort of attention and expertise they wanted to apply to something as simple as a swimsuit.
The laboratorio doesn't look fancy in any way, but it is full of quirks, character and the people working there have a real energy for the work they do; a shirt isn't just a shirt, it could be cut in a dozen different ways, sewn by hand or machine, with specific sewing techniques used depending on the way the fabric has to wrap around the shoulder of the client. It is run by Salvatore and Luigi, two brothers in their twenties, along with Angela, the head of the laboratorio. The garments are sewn together by a team of seamstresses, who, with the biggest smile on their face, explain to you every step of the making of a swimsuit and each single stitch on a shirt.
Quality swimwear fabrics are rare to go by, because synthetic fibres often have a plastic touch whilst cotton absorbs and retains moisture. They had a hard time sourcing high quality suppliers and are very proud of their finding. They came across a mill that produces quick-drying synthetic fabric that is ring-spun and brushed, making it both soft and look and feel like cotton. The raw weave is then dyed and printed with their exclusive designs.
For the tying-cord, they chose a nautical rope manufacturer just outside Milan that specialises in the production of traditional sailing boat cording. The drawstring is made from unbleached cotton that is double braided to reduce water absorption and weaved tightly to withstand the wear and tear of the sea. It recalls the old ropes used on vintage wooden sailing boats.For the shirts they source a high quality Italian linen, which grows softer and supple the more it gets worn. The buttons are all made out of mother of pearl, where each one is unique and tells its own story.
Together with their team of tailors, Anna Laura and Oliviero worked on redesigning the classic swimsuit to get the perfect cut. Many swim shorts look awkward because of what they call the “parachute effect”; the short becomes wider towards the leg opening, giving it a droopy pear shape. By increasing the inseam and slightly reducing the leg circumference, they gave our swim short a straight and elegant fit.The linen shirts are designed revisiting vintage cut from the 1960s, such as the Capri collar which has famously been worn by Gianni Agnelli during his summers in Capri. Giovanna uses chalk to draw the different shapes on the fabric and then cuts it by hand with incredible precision.
Many details in the construction of the swimsuit may pass unnoticed, but they spent so much time conceiving every aspect that they couldn't fall short of perfecting even the smallest details.
The border of the side pockets are finished with a very fine hem – where the edge of the cloth is folded narrowly around a thin string with blind-stitching – giving it a clean, refined look. All of the fabric edges in the construction are folded and sewed before the assembly, so that the rough borders of the cut cloth never appear on the inside of the swimsuit.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Angela is always the last one to hold our pieces – she carefully irons and folds them, and cuts off by hand any little string that may still be showing.
FINAEST has chosen Ripa Ripa because they believe like us in quality over quantity, in the return to owning one great, well-made product rather than many standardised, mass-produced goods. They conceive their products to look just as good when they are worn and lived, as they do when they are new.
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