Inspired by the aesthetics of the Italian 1960s, Ripa Ripa redefines men’s swimwear with elegant swim shorts that combine innovation and traditional craftsmanship
If you’re tired of swimwear that lasts you a single season, look no further than Ripa Ripa. The Milanese brand offers a wide selection of swim shorts that will never go out of style, manufactured in Italy with the finest materials.
With vibrant colors and retro designs, Ripa Ripa swimwear perfectly embodies the spirit of the Mediterranean. Think sailboats, rocky beaches, and turquoise water.
We reached out to Anna Laura Hoefer, co-founder of Ripa Ripa, to ask a few questions.
How was Ripa Ripa born? What is the story behind it?
Ripa Ripa was created in 2015 by two friends, myself and my business partner Oliviero, in Milan. That summer Oliviero was looking for new swim shorts, and we couldn’t find the right pair: on one hand there were luxury brands at an expensive price, on the other hand there was Sundeck, or Ralph Lauren, which offer rather simple swim shorts. There was nothing in the middle, at an accessible price in the luxury segment, elegant but simple at the same time.
So that’s when our idea was born, on Ripa di Porta Ticinese, Milan, which is also where the name stems from. We wanted to create an elegant swim short which represents Italy in all its aspects: from the production, which is fully made in Italy, to the designs, which are all hand drawn by us inspired by Italian ornaments, cards, corals, and to the photography, which is exclusively shot in Italy, in the Mediterranean.
To find a producer who could realize our dream we travelled all around Italy, and with them we decided to redesign the fit of our swim shorts.
Ripa Ripa offers a fresh interpretation of the classic drawstring swimsuit. How do you combine tradition and modernity in your designs?
It starts from the patterns: they are inspired by the traditional Sicilian tiles, which have been there for ages, or Neapolitan tie patterns, as well as corals, cards… We reinterpret these traditional designs, as our young team draws them by hand.
Also, the fit is a mix between modernity and tradition. We modified the usual fit of the swim short, which has a “parachute effect”, and made it a bit straighter, so that is looks more like an elegant trouser rather than a swim short.
What is the “parachute effect”, and how do you avoid it in your swim shorts?
The parachute effect happens when a man enters the water wearing swim shorts: the whole swim short becomes a little parachute, because of all the air that comes in from the bottom, as well as water.
To avoid it, we have cut the swim short in a different way, so the fit is much straighter and doesn’t really allow the air and water to come in from below. When you enter the water wearing our swim shorts, you don’t look like a little balloon!
Your atelier is located in Portici, a small town south of Naples. What is special about this town?
Portici is a little town in the south of Naples, just below the Vesuvio, and it’s probably more renowned for its historical railway (the first Italian railway line) rather than the production of swim shorts, but the town has a long history of Italian sartorial tradition.
We chose Portici for the people: our atelier is now run by two local young men and women who have decades of experience in working for the most renowned fashion houses. They have the skills and the ability to convey what we had in mind through Ripa Ripa products.
The Ripa Ripa atelier sounds like a very unique place – full of quirks, character, and, of course, people. Can you tell us some more about them?
Yes, what makes the atelier special is the people. There’s Luigi and Salvatore, two brothers who, together with Angela, run the atelier. Then there’s eight women of all ages who work there. They have the biggest passion and love when they speak about their work.
Giovanna, the woman who cuts our swim shorts, always shows us how to best hold the scissor, and cut a specific piece of fabric in 10 different ways, by hand or with a machine… They really have a sparkle in their eyes when they talk about work.
And now we’ve been working together for several years, so it’s like a little family. In the last two years, due to COVID, we weren’t able to visit as much, but we always keep in touch with videocalls, they update us on every step of the production… It’s truly a little family we have created.
What materials do you use in your swimsuits and shirts, and how did you select them?
Finding materials was probably the most difficult part at the beginning, because often swim short materials (polyamide and polyester) are very plasticky, and touching them feels like touching a chips packaging, rather than something you want to wear all day on your body!
So, we created our own mix, a mix between polyester and polyamide, which feels as soft as cotton but is still very quick-drying. For our line of shirts, on the other hand, we use a very high-quality Italian linen, which becomes softer the more you wear it.
It seems like, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more consumers are looking to buy high quality, timeless pieces. Is fast fashion dying?
Dying probably not, I think the era of fast fashion is not over, but I’m 100% convinced it is going towards that. Consumers pay much more attention to what they buy. We have experienced this ourselves: we have many clients who send us emails asking where exactly the products are produced, if they can visit our atelier… This is something that, when we started 5 years ago, never used to happen.
People are concerned about the quality and sustainability of products. They are moving away from mass consumption. Instead of buying ten different swim shorts, they’d much rather buy one at the higher price, which will last them years. They want to have transparency on what happens to the product from the day it was born, to the moment they wear it.
We are very proud that all Ripa Ripa garments are made in Italy. All the materials, from labels, to waist cords, to packaging, is all sourced in Italy, close to the south, so the transfer cost from one place to the other are not huge.
What are your favorite beaches in Italy? Are there any places you would suggest our readers not miss if they visit?
As a kid I always used to go to the Isola d’Elba, which for me is a little jewel. It’s a very unexplored island from an international tourism point of view, so that is somewhere I would definitely recommend.
One of my favorite places on planet earth is Argentario, in Tuscany, a peninsula that has little “calette” (bays) and beaches, where we just had our shooting two weeks ago.
If you go a bit more south, surely do visit Baia dei Turchi, in Puglia, which is absolutely stunning, and Sardinia by sailing boat. I’m a “wild sea” person, I’m not a fan of sandy beaches, I’d rather go for the rocky ones.
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