Rifugio’s old villa

Friday, March 17th 2023
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On a surprisingly warm, sunny day last January we visited the Art Deco villa that is Alfredo Rifugio's headquarters in Naples.

It’s not what you expect for an Italian workshop. While there are lots of beautiful little tailors and cordwainers around Italy, most large ateliers and factories are relatively new, in industrial estates or otherwise highly functional.

They’re more like Paolo Scafora or Enzo Bonafé, or the Kiton complex not far away from here: post-war establishments without the centuries-old buildings that are more common in the UK.

It seemed like Rifugio was going to be similar, as we approached along a motorway offshoot, past Pompeii and then stopping outside a newsagent to examine Google Maps.

Shirtmaker Luca Avitabile was driving us, which was nice of him, and he peered at his phone as he tried to find the entrance. It was down a cobbled side street, apparently, between low brick walls hung with foliage.

The reason for the unusual location is that the Rifugio headquarters is actually an old villa - two people unconnected with the company still live there in apartments. 

Surrounded by tall palms, it has a fountain, a small garden and murals. Seagulls from the Mediterranean wheel overhead. 

The location was chosen partly for its convenience: Alfredo Rifugio lives five minutes in one direction, Alfonso Rifugio five in the other. The rest of the company has gradually filled it up over time. 

That team is still relatively small though: 25 employees, five of which are members of the family. 

There is a cutting room, a sewing room, a storage room and a showroom, plus a couple of offices. The sewing room is largest, with perhaps a dozen work stations, but everything else feels very residential in scale.  

This is perhaps surprising, given Rifugio’s reputation. They’re probably the biggest name for luxury leather and suede in the south of Italy, and even though leather is a small industry here compared to the north, they do make for many luxury brands. 

That said, not as many as they used to. Not because the company has shrunk, but because - like many manufacturers we’ve covered in the past 15 years - it's switched business model. 

A few years before Covid, all Rifugio did was white label work, making jackets for others to put their name on. There’s still some of that, but it’s a tiny proportion - we only saw one other brand on our tour. 

For consumers like you, the nice thing is this creates a direct connection between the workshop - as described and illustrated here - and the Rifugio product, whether at stockists or during a trunk show. There’s a clear link between maker and customer.

There’s a list of current stockists at the bottom of this article, by the way, as on our original article on Rifugio in 2019 (which includes more background on the company). Rifugio are about to re-start MTM trunk shows under their name too. 

I often get questions from readers asking to compare the quality of leather-jacket makers: Rifugio for example with Cromford, The Real McCoy’s or Chapal. 

I understand where this is coming from, but it’s a little like comparing a bespoke blazer with a melton pea coat: the biggest difference between those two is type and style, not quality. 

The Real McCoy’s and Seraphin in Paris, for example, make very different types of jacket, with very different leathers. Someone like Cromford sits in the middle, pushing to neither the extremes of hardiness or lightweight luxury. 

Rifugio is firmly at the light, luxury end of the spectrum. The suedes are the softest and lightest you can buy; the shearlings feel just as soft. These are not jackets built for any kind of hard wear, but they're beautiful and more than a little luxe. 

Exhibit A: the riotously orange suede shown above; you’re not going to see that anywhere near Cromford or Real McCoy’s.

Exhibit B: the visible pick stitching on the edges and seams of Rifugio jackets, which I have to say I like only when it’s subtle. 

And last, Exhibit C: my guilty pleasure, the thing I would never wear but secretly long to be the kind of person, in the kind of place, that would: matte-finish alligator. 

My God that jacket was beautiful. The textural variation in the different sizes and types of the scales; the enveloping warmth of the beaver lining, like your upper body has been wrapped in its own radiator-cum-cocoon. But I’d never wear it, and I’d likely be mugged anywhere outside of Mayfair if I did. 

On the subject of hand finishing (from a couple of paragraphs ago), I didn’t realise how much of the internal parts of a Rifugio jacket are also put together by hand: attaching the sleeve, sewing the lining of the armhole and the cuff. 

This is impressive given it’s so hidden - the opposite of the pick stitching. It’s the kind of handwork you get on a top-level ready-made suit, like hand-attaching a collar.

Among other models, Rifugio do some nice blazers, though mostly in the short/slim style of contemporary Naples; the take on a Harrington was extraordinarily light. And there was a gorgeous white calf. Incredibly impractical, but then there is history to white leather at Rifugio: they once made a piece on request for Pope John Paul II. He used it for skiing and hiking.

Main stockists are listed below, most of whom also offer MTM. Rifugio will be restarting their own trunk shows for MTM this year, in London, New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Geneva, with jackets starting at €2800. You can see ready-made prices on alfredorifugio.com

  • Michael Jondral - Hannover
  • Oger - Amsterdam/Rotterdam/The Hague
  • Just One - Madrid
  • L’Officine - Paris
  • Dantendorfer - Wien/Innsbruck/Salzburg
  • Lutz - Vinkeveen
  • Sobs - Koln
  • HS Fashion - Eindhoven
  • Sovrano - Dusseldorf
  • De Filippo Uomo - Koblenz
  • Joris Lammers - Hertogenbosch
  • Hartung - Copenaghen
  • Schito Store - Zurich
  • Montulet - Maastricht
  • Degand - Bruxelles
  • Runggaldier - Merano
  • Donati - Perugia
  • Guarini - Pescara
  • Direct Tailoring - Bruxelles
  • Cellini Signature - Doha
  • Mario Zell - Baghdad
  • Medallion - Beijin/Shanghai
  • Isetan Men - Tokyo
  • Mitsukoshi - Tokyo
  • Takashimaya - Tokyo/Osaka
  • Wako - Tokyo
  • Marco Cimmino - Palm Beach
  • Sartoria Pardi - Mexico City
  • Solito -Mexico City
  • Senator - Tajikistan

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Dare one ask how much the alligator jacket would cost..?!


If you look at that link, perhaps even a six-digit figure.


It was just for the price-reference. To be honest, I do not like either. In my opinion, both jackets look more like a requiste from a a Sci-Fi / Conan the Barbarian movie, something that only a Russian oligarch with really bad taste but big ego would wear. Further, I find crocodile leather ethically problematic, as this is not a by-product of the meat industry.


Yes, you are right. That is why I am vegetarian and try, with ambiguous success, to be vegan.

Lindsay McKee

That Alligator jacket is exquisite and probably has one heck of an exquisite price tag to match….ahh ,I’ll just dream on Simon!!!

Lindsay McKee

Does Riffugio do just MTM or full bespoke?

Lindsay McKee

Many thanks


Hi Simon….you may not want to hear this but I think the alligator jacket suits you, you can carry it off! Cheers Colin

Tommy Mack

Ha! Yes, I was thinking actually it looks good on you. I think the matte finish helps. A glossier finish would definitely put it into 90s Nic Cage territory….

Peter Hall

You need to ask them to make you a bespoke alligator vest-then you could hide it under a coat.

Peter Hall

That means Manish is Smithers.


Haha now there’s an image!


You mention Covid in relation to wider tendency of makers moving from private labels to house labels. Would you say Covid hastened this process or even forced it? It seems like Covid related problems like supply chain issues or reduced sales would impact the manufacturers either way.


Thanks for explaining. I guess garment industry is in a pretty unique position in this aspect and you can’t exactly compare it to how Covid affected some of the other more stable industries.

Personally I prefer this type of lighter suede jacket recently. I’ve owned quite a few leather jackets in different styles (including white calf and you’re right, it needs to be watched over more than a newborn baby) but these days I can’t stand anything that restricts or works against me.

By the way the link to alfredorifugio.com seems to be broken.


Just wanted to flag that I am feeling quite frustrated with PS. Lucas has been v responsive but I placed an order for some everyday lighter denim cloth on the 6th of February and it is still nowhere to be seen.
I gather the stock was elsewhere but knocking on 6 weeks is pretty poor performance for product delivery…


Same here. A shirt and polo ordered on February 27 arrived on March 13 and the UPS driver left the bag in a wheelbarrows where it froze before I found it. I was less than thrilled. Every other UK firm I shop with uses DHL, which rings the bell at the correct house, normally within 24-48 hours.


Very much driver and adress dependant. Every time ive moved, at least in london, i come to hate a certain carrier, but start hating carrier i loved before.


Yes, concur, drivers – and whoever hires the drivers for the area. The long delay was some kind of paperwork botch that I have never heard of before.

I’ve not ordered often, in the past, only found the site around five minutes before covid. This is the first time the process wasn’t entirely smooth.

Is it not possible to let the buyer choose the delivery type? I have previously had to chase UPS for delivery to the wrong address, and had drivers falsely report nobody at home. I started asking them to use a drop-off point which took out most of the unpleasantness, but I don’t think the PS checkout process offered that option.


after FedEx left a 500£ parcel clearly visible to everyone just outside almost on the street during a rainy day, I posted a review with pictures on trustpilot. never seen that guy doing my deliveries anymore. and more interesting, I got “parcel delivered” only hours later.

I don’t blame the guys spending 5 seconds waiting at the door, 100-200 parcels a day is NOT a joke, but just leaving to be stolen is another thing.

what I DO like to see is options for pick up shops. DPD/evri is great here in London. and even more I like a DPD way “driver is doing delivery nr***. you are delivery nr***.”


Hi Simon,

Happy St.Patrick’s Day, from a real Irishman !

I am traveling to Naples for the first time before Easter. Can’t wait. What’s the best way to see Rifugio jackets etc. I assume regular individual clients don’t go to the headquarters. Do they have a shop on site or close by ?

Thanks in advance.


Do Neapolitan tailors and clothing manufacturers (especially the big name brands) pay protection money to the Camorra? It would be very surprising if such profitable and high profile businesses were not targeted by the local mafia.


Huh. I now have a burning desire to own a perfectly cut green suede blazer, an item of clothing I could scarcely imagine existing this morning, let alone coveting. Is this progress? And how would you describe that precise shade of green in the fourth photograph?


Interesting. I was thinking it was more ‘Consumptive Pistacchio’…


‘and I’d likely be mugged anywhere outside of Mayfair if I did.’
Fecking brilliant assessment and i concur : )


Hi Simon, what jacket were you wearing the day of the visit?


Simon –
Long time lurker – first time commenter.
Just wondering – what’s the dark navy jacket you’re wearing in one or two shots here?
Now back to the shadows –



Somehow I didn’t know how much, my entire life, I have needed a matte finished alligator jacket. I always knew something was missing and here it is, alas. 🙂


Simon may i ask something irrelevant ? I read yesterday again your older article about minimalizing the wardrobe and since i had some time i decided to put away what im not wearing and also made a list of what i need. Could you suggest some brands for shirts ? I wear mostly casual clothes and id like 2-3 hard wearing shirts to be worn and washed a lot.


I would like to make 4 mtm but i live in germany so its not so easy to meet the italian guys, except if i travel to italy but it could also work if i combine vacations and 4 shirts. I was thinking of trying your cloths and particularly the chambray the white oxford and the striped oxford and as 4th id get a black linen-cotton that doesnt wrinkle lot. Which one of the 3 would you choose for really informal shirts that would be worn 90% outside of the trousers ? And when are the cloths going to be again available ?


I have the taupe suede overshirt made for a japanese retailer. it’s so light you can roll up the sleeves and even tuck the shirt in like a regular cotton one.


Browsing rifugio’s catalogue has made me very interested in a suede sport coat.. possibly a DB. Curious how it works if it’s rtw… presumably it’ll be quite difficult to get it altered in the sleeves for instance. Also curious about your thoughts on suede sport coats in general, Simon!


What overcoat are you wearing the pics, Simon?


Hi Simon,

I have three pieces from Rifugio now, all based on your first article. Beautiful stuff. Thank you for introducing us to them (and they should thank you as well!).


Hi Simon,

When you visited did you look at their leather goods? I think I want to get their briefcase as it seems pretty well priced and looks pretty nice. Any thoughts on them?