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The Salvatore Rigoletto Denim Company - Fashion's First Family

The year: 1995. I'm in 5th grade. I went to Catholic School until 8th grade, so we had the standard blue and white school uniforms that we had to wear every day. However, this particular day was a Jean Day, and you could bring in $2 and wear jeans instead of your uniform.

This is 1995, and if you remember, Tommy Hilfiger, Jnco, Polo, etc. were all starting to blow up on the denim scene. My family, however, didn't have a whole lot of money at the time, so all of my clothes were either hand-me-downs or from Marshall's, TJ Maxx, or Value City clothing. On this particular day, I was wearing a pair of jean shorts (no belt, of course) with my shirt tucked in. They were some like $6 pair of jorts and the brand name was Rigoletto. They were basically made of blue tissue paper.

Anyway, the teacher started passing out papers and as I leaned up to grab them, the girl who sat behind me saw the label of my jeans and quickly shot out to me "What are Rigoletto jeans?" Her tone reeked of arrogance and condescension, like she couldn't believe I wasn't wearing a name brand.

Somehow, my 9 year old mind began churning, and I retorted with a quick "You mean you've never heard of Rigoletto jeans?" She obviously said no, to which I replied "Are you serious?" as if she was totally ill-informed of the fashion landscape. Because there was no Google at the time, and my pre-teen wispy crustache and hairy arms gave me a way as being Italian, I took this ruse to the next level.

"Oh yea, Rigoletto is like the biggest jeans brand in Italy. My grandfather's cousin, my Uncle Sal, owns his own denim factory over there. Literally you can't go anywhere in Italy without seeing Rigoletto jeans." Instantly she was captivated, and conveniently, my cousin/ best friend was sitting right next to me. He jumped onto the bit immediately, and I was like "Ian, you know about this, right? You've heard of Rigoletto?" He jumps in, not missing a beat, saying "Oh man, Uncle Sal? Yea, they're the most popular jeans in Europe." This girl's tone did a complete 180, from calling me out for not wearing a name brand to pestering me asking if Uncle Sal could get her a pair of Rigoletto jeans. Obviously, because of her initial approach (and because he/ they are not real), I never gave her a pair, but the legend spread, and she even brought it up again in like 7th grade.

A few years later, we're at a family function and Ian and I start telling the Uncle Sal story. My dad loves it. My uncle loves it. My grandfather loves it. Until he died last year, every time I saw him he'd ask how Uncle Sal's business was doing. And even when he passed away, Ian and I stood in the back of the church joking that his suit was probably premium Rigoletto fabric. 

Fast forward a few months ago. Ian and I always try to outdo each other with birthday gifts for one another. This year, I created tee shirts for the Salvatore Rigoletto Denim Company, Naples, Italy, est. 1995. Best I could do short of actually creating a pair of jeans. They've been a huge hit and I think the entire Eonta family now has a shirt. Probably my favorite article of clothing I’ve ever owned.

I started telling the story to my friends as well, and in a matter of months, I had sold 80+ shirts and released a second design. 10% of all proceeds will also go to Anti-Bullying Charities, something I'd like to maintain if this ever becomes a larger enterprise.

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