Luca Gnecchi Ruscone talks about how his family is the core inspiration at L.G.R. and how African and European influences drive the aesthetic of the global brand.
Happiness does not come when you reach your ultimate goal, but it resides in the process of chasing your goals.– Luca Gnecchi Ruscone
Describe your brand in 3 words? More than three words, I would mention our manifesto, “Inspired by Africa, handmade in Italy…”.
Luca Gnecchi Ruscone: When and why did you start L.G.R.? I studied in Boston and got my degree in Economics; then I moved to Shanghai, where I started a job for a Communication Agency.
Soon I began to feel unsatisfied with my life: the desire to get back home in Italy and starting something that I could call my own kept me awake at night. Then my grandfather called me, asking if I could travel with him to Asmara, Eritrea. There, wandering through his old warehouse of Italian imports, I discovered a model of sunglasses from a time long forgotten.
These beautiful designs immediately evoked the romanticism of an era long gone — the merging of two worlds; the adventure of Africa and the glamour of the Riviera. I returned to the original manufacturers and created a line capturing this timeless elegance.
How has your family played a role in your brand? My family has played a fundamental role. Every collection begins life as a development of the creative inputs that I get from what surrounds me: the women and men of my family, my friends, travels. Africa. The smells and colors of the Italian Riviera.
Where do you get inspiration when preparing for each collection for the season? Exploration and adventure are my inspirational pillars; this could be a safari in the Savannah as well as an urban one, an afternoon spent reading books at the Muthaiga Club in Nairobi or passing the time under an Acacia tree.
These visions of faraway places translate into the designs. L.G.R. is not only inspired by the African continent but also by the Europeans that lived there at the beginning of the century, pioneers, brave, and daring spirits that went into the unknown exploring. My sense of style and vice-versa influences my collections. Heritage, roots, and a timeless aesthetic, always mixed with a contemporary touch, identify the core of my brand.
Your Instagram feed has a very clean, consistent, and minimalist-feel. Is this on purpose? Yes, it is. Nowadays, Instagram has become the most immediate and fastest way to create a connection and quickly reach those who already know the brand, but also new potential followers/customers. We are committed to making our D.N.A. shine through the feed in an obvious way, insisting on an integrated communication that makes our values visible in every area of intervention, from online to offline (flagship stores and tradeshow booths for example).
How has social media helped your brand? We’ve used social media from the very beginning. When we started, and Instagram didn’t exist yet, we used Facebook by tagging our friends on our page. That was free advertising! Today everything is managed in a more structured way, with a dedicated department and fixed costs that must be budgeted.
Do you have a strong presence in the United States? If so, what stockist have your brand in stock stateside? We see most of our revenue coming in from foreign markets, a lot from the U.S. At present, we are increasing our U.S. footprint, and soon we will be in several new fashion stores and boutique hotels between NYC and Miami. Some of our historical shops are Studio Optix in Rockefeller Center (NYC), Good See (LA), Eye Pieces of Veil, to mention a few.
You strongly represent African influences in your brand. Why is that? L.G.R. exudes African heritage and inspiration from the personal story of my grandfather. The models are named with African cities and places.
African moods and atmospheres inspire the designs: brown Havanas, dark tortoiseshells, gradient warm toned lenses, durable protective coatings, and treatments for harsh sunlight situations characterize the collections.
Favorite Quote? “The best way to predict the future is to create it” – Abraham Lincoln
What do you know now that you wished you knew when you first started L.R.G.? That happiness does not come when you reach your ultimate goal, but it resides in the process of chasing your goals. Over the years, I have learned how overcoming obstacles on the way to success makes me happy.