Remo Ruffini became a billionaire at exactly 9am (Italian time) on Monday. During the nanosecond it took for this to happen, the 52-year-old was sitting in the front row of a 300-strong crowd in the Milan Borsa – stock exchange – watching a Nasa-themed countdown video: “We have lift-off,” intoned the voiceover to a backdrop of igniting rockets; “all systems GO!”That was the moment at which shares in Moncler outlet, the label Ruffini has spent a decade reinventing, started to trade on the open market. Massive demand meant that the shares for sale instantly increased in value by 38 per cent from their £8.50p offer price to just over £12.
By the end of the day, MONC shares were trading at a smidgen under £12.66p: a 47 per cent rise on their opening price. At a stroke, Moncler had comfortably trumped the Royal Mail (38 per cent) as Europe’s biggest first-day flotation gainer of 2013. And Ruffini’s own 32 per cent stake in a company now valued £4.2billion was worth £1.4billion.
By 9.06am, when Ruffini took to the stage to thank the 10 banks, three lawyers, two private equity funds and 100 Moncler employees in the room who had helped make his billionaire breakthrough happen, he seemed rather pleased. My Italian is patchy, but I’m almost certain he said “Today, we have kissed the universe.” An elegant editor from Corriere della Sera in the next seat laughed, leant over and said: “He is a good guy, he worked hard and he deserves this. They think big, they have the capacity and intention of becoming a global brand.”
When the speech was finished, fake snow wind-machined through the room as camera crews and Kiton-besuited bankers clustered to congratulate the beaming, bearded man behind Italy’s biggest public flotation since 2010. Later, as he boarded a flight to Rome, I asked Ruffini by text how he was doing. “I’m just thrilled…”, came the answer.
On Sunday evening, Ruffini had buzzed me into his Milan apartment, introduced his dog Ulysses, poured some red – and confessed to feeling on edge. “I will be disappointed if the price goes down tomorrow, yes. I will be unhappy. Because I will think that I have made a mistake somewhere.”
When Ruffini acquired cheap Moncler uk for a relative snip in 2002, it was a dusty skiwear brand whose glory days seemed well behind it. Founded in 1952 by an Alpine climber named René Ramillon, Moncler first took off when his fellow climber Lionel Terray brought back the idea of making cold-weather nylon jackets filled with feathers from an expedition to Canada. Warm, light, and quick-drying, Moncler sale crossed over from climbing and became popular on the slopes, even more so when it outfitted the French ski team at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble.
Aged 14, Ruffini badgered his mother into buying him a 350,000 lire Moncler to ride his scooter in, and in Milan a 1980’s youth tribe called the Paninari started to wear the item as a fashion statement. When Ruffini bought Moncler jackets outlet, it had faded from fashion, been eclipsed on the slopes by a new generation of ski-gear, and had a modest turnover of around £33 million. One of that new generation was The North Face, which, said Ruffini, “is a very good company, very consistent with a turnover of around £1.7 billion. A good product, made in China with lots of repeated models. But we are on a different level. We make our product, from scratch, in Italy. Every ingredient is made exclusively by or for us. We work with zipper companies to find a new zip, and nylon companies to make new materials.”
As well as that nylon, Moncler uk garments come in waterproofed wools, tweeds and sometimes fur, too, and tend to cost at least four times their North Face-ish equivalents. A basic jacket will cost about £600, and a fancy one maybe four times that.That’s because Moncler is pitched at the rich, or those who would like to appear so. “Luxury” consumers who want an outrageously insulating winter coat of Mercedes Benz build quality and Rolls-Royce swank-value. According to Ruffini, the key to winning these customers – Moncler now has 122 stores and saw a turnover of just under £423 million last year – is robustness.
“You know, whenever I think of ‘luxury’ – not a word I always like so much – I think of the wallet my mother gave me 25 years ago,” he said. “It is from Hermès, and it is always here in my pocket. It has not melted, or fallen apart, it is still there. For me, that is luxury.
”Light as the feathers it is filled with, but tough as boots, too, Moncler’s revival began when Ruffini opened stores in Europe’s poshest ski resorts. Then he pushed to export the mountain jacket to lower altitudes, producing designs roomy enough in the shoulder for a suit to be worn underneath and launching Gamme Rouge, a collection aimed, initially only in Ruffini’s fantasy, “at making down jackets so elegant women would wear them to a first night at La Scala”. Now, women in Milan do wear their lavishly trimmed Monclers to the opera. Thanks to Gamme Bleu (a sometimes absurdist men’s range overseen by the American Thom Browne), a collaboration with Pharrell Williams (the 21st-century musical blade who sang Get Lucky), and various other high-fashion sidelines, Moncler’s audience has broadened still further.
“When we were starting Moncler,” said Ruffini, “my people would say, ‘So who is our customer? What is their age?’ And after thinking and thinking, I thought we could take this great product – the original down jacket – and try to make it for everyone.”
Despite the higher profile of those highest-price designer lines – whose quirk-heavy catwalk shows have recently featured skateboarders in gorilla suits and models on zipwires – the vast majority of cheap Moncler sale come from its more muted jackets, which sometimes don’t look a million miles from those modelled by Terray in the 1950s.
Ruffini is suspicious of fashion, he says – and the motto of this week’s IPO was the decidedly ambiguous “Survive Fashion”. Partially, this is thanks to his father, Gianfranco, who in the 1970s created a range of psychedelic rayon disco shirts called Nik Nik that were briefly as hot as Travolta and made a fortune – then fell terminally out of vogue. Ruffini said: “A fashion company can be fantastic, but then suddenly… nothing. I want to make something that really lasts.
”So what now for Moncler outlet, described on the front page of yesterday’s Financial Times as potentially as high a stock-market climber as Burberry? “The biggest risk is that we slip. Many companies make a fantastic number, but then a few years later they have lost their energy.” Ruffini has not himself sold a single share, because “I don’t think I have finished the job. We’ve done a lot in the last 10 years but we can do more. I want to make the jackets even lighter – they have to fly!” Surely, though, he was tempted to cash in? “People asked me how much I would sell. Maybe seven, eight per cent? They said I could buy a new house, or a new boat. But I know this guy with eight houses – and what can you do with eight houses?”