We speak to Joseph Ribkoff, the man behind the eponymous mainstream womenswear brand, and the brand’s chief executive John Ferraro, ahead of our interview with the pair this weekend.
Joseph Ribkoff is one of Canada’s leading fashion brands and appeals to women the world over. Why is this?
Joseph Ribkoff: “We’re focused in on a particular consumer. And we don’t design to cater to any one country, we design for a particular woman that is today’s international woman. She travels, she takes cruises, she’s curious.”
You’ve recently invested C$1m into your shipping department and fabric department to allow for future growth. Why did you decide to make that investment?
John Ferraro: “Our automated cutting machines were in the fabric department before, so all that stock and the merchandise was all crowded, so literally you couldn’t fit your hands between garments it was so packed up. If we hadn’t of done that inefficiencies, mistakes, all types of things. We knew we had to, there was no way we could grow without it. Like with anything if you start getting complacent and saying I’m happy with this then there is only one way they move, downwards. You have to think forward. You have to grow as a business just to continue to be relevant.”
How is the brand performing in the UK?
JF: “We are doing well. I think we are trending with a 10% increase so far this year. And of course having won the Womenswear Brand of the Year title at the Drapers Independent Awards is always a plus. We have been in the running before and it’s nice to be nominated, but so much more nice to win. For us it was a very special, we’re proud of it.”
Will your strategy remain indie focused or will you target department stores?
JF: “Oh yes 100% [we will remain indie focused]. Department stores were never our thing really. We would be open to it with the right department store, but our focus has always been on independents. It just works better for us. Someone asked if we’re interested in opening our own stores. But the answer is no. Why have to compete with the boutiques? They are the experts. I’ll be the expert in fashion designing and manufacturing, they are the experts in the retail business.”