At the tender age of 10, Burr Ridge’s Rino Burdi tagged along to work with his father, Alfonso. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Burdi runs the day-to-day operations of the family’s namesake luxury Italian menswear brand, Burdi, which he took over from Alfonso in 1995.
“You could say I was born into it,” says Burdi. “I watched my dad cut and make clothing for people like Joe DiMaggio and Plácido Domingo. While he was constantly working, he still always found time to spend with me. These stories tend to make us. And he saw at an early age that I had a flair for the business and was artistically inclined, but the business needed a designer more than a tailor, so I grew into that role.”
A third-generation clothier—Burdi’s grandfather was a master tailor in Italy—Burdi is now also the brand’s fashion director, overseeing ready-to-wear men’s apparel and accessories. Voted one of Chicago’s best-dressed men, Burdi describes his personal style as classic … with a twist.
“I like to step it up with color or details, like titanium buttons or hand-stitched everything,” he says. “I’ve always loved fashion. It could be my heritage, but I remember even from a young age dressing up for school and choosing my outfits with care. I even asked my dad to create designs for me to wear. I now design the lines of my clothing in a way that hugs the body but is light and flattering.”
That same philosophy extends to the way Burdi works with his clients, too. He takes the time to learn their needs and style and then simply helps provide guidance, whether they prefer the instant gratification of a ready-to-wear purchase or would prefer to design a custom piece. Because of his background, Burdi has cultivated relationships with the world’s top fabric mills and can design the fall and balance of clothing in a way that flatter’s every man’s unique shape.
“Many men dislike shopping, so I try to make it both comfortable and fun,” says Burdi. “Feeling proud of your appearance will always add a little bounce to your step. You never know what the day will bring.”
Burdi believes it’s important to put thought into your outfit and its finishing touches, such as a pocket square or even the right watch. “Investing in quality pieces that fit well and styling them with a pop of flair will net you many compliments,” explains Burdi.
He also recommends every man have a crisp white shirt in his closet and says it’s something you inevitably need at the last minute, whether before an event on Saturday night or for a surprise important meeting. That said, Burdi keeps his eye on the latest trends, too. “I find that I’m usually too far ahead on trends and have to reign it in,” he says. “I go to Italy several times a year to work on the next collection.”
The most exciting changes, he says, are in formal wear, with the tuxedo becoming “more flexible” and dinner jackets “much desired.” He also notes that fabrics are becoming “more technical” with advances like nanotech for color retention and water-repellent garments that are functional yet still look sophisticated.
“I have a beautiful worsted cashmere suit that has natural stretch for great comfort,” says Burdi. “And there are now moisture barriers and wind-repellent treatments that are great for Chicago.”
And great for Hinsdale, too. This February, Burdi will open a Hinsdale outpost in the former Hartley’s bicycle shop. The second store for the brand after its Walton Avenue location in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, Burdi Hinsdale will be about two and a half times the size and will feature exposed ductwork and brickwork for a raw, urban aesthetic.
“I was lucky to have the opportunity to take over this really cool building and make it my own,” says Burdi. “Clients will have access to the full line, but I also plan on having more leisure-oriented styles, gifts, and specialty items as well. In the last few years, I’ve been making many deliveries to clients in the neighborhood who like the convenience and prefer to avoid downtown traffic. I feel like an honorary resident already.”
He’s a full-fledged resident, too. A few years ago, Burdi fell in love with a spot on a little lake in Burr Ridge that would soon become his home. He lent his design-minded eye and aesthetic to the space and calls the project “an amazing challenge.” In his limited spare time, which he says is generally reserved for his family, Burdi loves to travel, enjoy good food, and take long drives, during which he noticed the Hartley’s storefront for the first time.
In the next Burdi iteration, Burdi will maintain the legacy and heritage of his family. “My dad always demanded more from me than any other employee and he had me running in 20 different directions all the time,” he says. “I learned so much from him, even though I thought he should be giving me a break back then. It was challenging and wonderful.”
A few of the lessons Alfonso imparted upon Burdi? Provide quality above all; embrace 360 feedback, and remember that your team is important, and their ideas are valuable; and measure thrice, cut once, which Burdi says applies to all facets of life.