STORIES OF SUSTAINABLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP: RIFÒ

Rifò, word from Tuscany that comes from the verb “rifare”, “redo” in English, is a sustainable fashion brand that sources and produces locally. Born from an idea of Niccolò Cipriani and grown thanks to a diverse team that shares the same values, Rifò managed in less than three years to move from dream to project, from project to successful crowdfunding, and from crowdfunding to well-established brand, leader between sustainable Made in Italy products.

Linked to the “cenciaioli” tradition in Prato (craftsmen who were working sorting the rags to upcycle them), Rifò recycles jeans and cashmere to create an always growing line of clothes: from the initial 100% recycled t-shirt many new products have been added, like sweaters, jackets, ponchos, hats and beach towels. Everything is recycled, sustainable, and characterised by the high quality of the Italian tradition. 

NAMA: Niccolò, the idea of Rifò comes from your experience in Vietnam. There you witnessed in first person the problems related to “fast fashion” and to a global consumerism of clothes. What made you decide that something needed to be done to change things? 

NICCOLÒ: Becoming aware of the huge amount of clothes that end up not being bought or worn ever. In the last years in the fashion industry many products have been designed to end up in an incinerator or landfill. I thought it was the right moment to create a productive model that responds exactly to the needs and desires of people, without generating wastes and efficiently using the natural resources around us. 

NAMA: Rifò started as a crowdfunding project, collecting more than 11.000 euros in less than a month. A great response, which reflects the growing need for a responsible consumption of goods. How has the market evolved in this sense? Who are the Rifò Supporters? 

NICCOLÒ: The market of sustainable products has grown exponentially in the last three years, way more than it was forecasted. It is very strong in the food field, but fashion seems to be just next. The institutional and media push have been key to this change in my opinion. The Rifò supporters are our clients, our hooligans, the people without whom this project couldn’t exist. They trusted us in the beginning, when we needed it more than ever, and they keep trusting us while we grow. 

NAMA: One of your most iconic products is “The avantgarde jacket”, and the concept of future keeps coming back while reading across your website. At the same time your products come from the past, recycling old fibres of clothes that aren’t used anymore. How would you place yourself between these two dimensions? How are the past and traditions helping you transforming the future? 

NICCOLÒ: We believe that the waste (that we are going to recycle) is generated from the past, specially in a country with strong traditions like ours. It is really fascinating to innovate pre-existing arts, processes and knowledge; taking a tradition and re-interpreting it in a contemporary key. At the same time it is also very important to radically innovate, take paths that aren’t known yet in this territory. To conclude, I would say we start from a tradition to explore, innovate, and build on pre-existing foundations. 

NAMA: Rifò is a brand that sells mainly online, and its website collects not only products but also a wide variety or guides/articles dedicated to responsible consumption, ethical fashion and the re-discovery of the “textile stories” behind each product. What do you think is the role played by information in creating a healthy consuming habit?If someone is entering the world of sustainable fashion for the first time, where would you recommend to start from? 

NICCOLÒ: Information is very important and internet and the social media help a lot, giving the opportunity to everyone to learn more. At the same time it is very important to pick the right sources. I would recommend to start with the documentary “The true cost”, that explains in a simple but complete way many concepts related to sustainable fashion and shows many of the problems linked to fast fashion. I would also advise to follow the Fashion Revolution movement or the Ellen McArthur Foundation for what concerns circular economy. 

NAMA: We know you’re a big cinema fan. If Rifò would be a movie, it would be…? 

NICCOLÒ: ahahah, nice question, I think it might be “Back To The Future” just to stick to the topic!

You can check out Rifò here.

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