Italy in Tailoring

Sartoria Pirozzi, Napoli

Here there are no great numbers, only great passions. There are no million-Euro sales receipts, just small artisanal workshops where the hand and the heart are intertwined like thread. Like that of the legendary Ariadna given to Theseus to help him out of the labyrinth; in this case, of bad taste, and directly into the capable hands of the modern tailor. Here, the word “baste” has sartorial dignity. And the scissors are the only mechanical object. The rest is made up of dedication to the work and a passion for beauty and the finely crafted. Italian tailors are the new touchstones of masculine elegance, the point of comparison when buying a suit or choosing a jacket or overcoat. The guardians of an ancient tradition, handed down from father to son, these workshops today are recognized as playing a role of primary importance to the promotion of Made in Italy quality and expertise. To each his own… tailoring.
Dotted throughout the beautiful territory from north to south, are bespoke tailors each with his own story and style essense, as demonstrated by Domenico Pirozzi, a veritable repository of Ars sutoria intelligence acquired from his father Nunzio, who is now one of the most esteemed tailors from Neapolitan tradition. “Each of the garments we create is rendered unique by the completely handmade construction from freehand cutting without paper patterns, to the choice of quality fabrics,” says Pirozzi, a pillar in his family’s art (the tailoring shop was founded in Naples in the early ’60s). Pirozzi, also with a decade of experience at Kiton, continues, revealing the secrets of his craft: “each of our suits exudes softness and wear-ability, granted from the perfect cut and the fine materials that we use.” Of course it does not include the look and taste of the clothing: “a feature that distinguishes us is surely the slightly wider collar, with proper tailoring for current style codes, always soft, while the shoulder is smooth with a slight curve. It is an international, self-assured look.” The Neapolitan school of tailoring still has a lot to teach us in matters of style, thus, the Sartoria Pirozzi with its atelier on Via Gramsci, also organizes trunk shows abroad, exporting its style sense around the world as far as Japan.
A few kilometres further south in this hypothetical sartorial migration, we arrive in Salento, or more precisely in Martano in the province of Lecce, where we find Sartoria Colazzo dal 1966. Already the name proudly acclaims its many years making passionate fans of made-to-measure ever more elegant. Today, Alessandro Colazzo, together with his brother John, continues the family tradition alongside their father Arcangelo, founder of bespoke laboratory. Alessandro himself also lives and breathes the image of fine tailoring, becoming its first online advocate, “the web is useful- that is undeniable- it is the first window into a tailor’s work if he wants to lead the way in our times because with just one click you can bring reach people across a great distance. But to really understand what this art is about, you have to enter into the tailor’s shop, not just glance in through the window”. And it is also he who reveals the secret of today’s tailoring, “the Colazzo Tailoring tradition has its roots in the mid-60s. Every past era has brought forward with it unique and inimitable characteristics. Today our tailoring sees garments made entirely by hand, like the weaves of the fabrics made from natural camel hair and horsehair, made to measure for every customer. The sotto collo is “punticiato”- worked- by hand, which might seem trivial, but it gives the jacket a unique softness and wear-ability. Same goes for lapels, and not to mention the one-of-a-kind process for creating the “mappina” sleeve, which gets its name from the tea towels our grandparents used to use, that gives the jacket such lightness and ease of movement that the man forgets he is wearing it.”

Continuing up the Apennine mountain chain (well, sort of), you arrive in Florence, at Liverano & Liverano, who since the ’40s has been one of the most prestigious manufacturers to make its home on banks of the Arno River. Recently, the atelier has formed an unusual creative partnership with denim giant Roy Rogers, overseen by the Sevenbell Group, to produce the first sartorial jeans made in Florence, thus finding a creative meeting place between two seemingly irreconcilable worlds, whose future will breathe new life into bespoke denim.

Following the hypothetical thread that sews together Italy’s made-to-measure experts, we arrive in Milan, more precisely in Varese, where Sartoria Vergallo is based and run today by Gianni Cleopazzo, spokesman for the next generation of hand tailoring. He explains how the Cleopazzo style has clear ideas “the goal is to meet the demands and the tastes of our customers, who are all different. As a result, we do not like to impose on them our own style. For us, the customer is the one who likes to dress in an exclusive and personal way- of course we are talking about a person who appreciates the hand-made, and above all understands the time and cost required for the to produce a hand-made suit.”

Crossing over the Alps, you can still breathe the air of Made in Italy tailoring. Even in Antwerp. Thanks to Massimo Pirrone, a manager with sartorial background, who created his brand PM Eleganza Milanese, in Belgium in 2013. Despite being located outside the Italian border, the tailoring atelier wears the red, white and green flag because Pirrone relies on Italian manufacturing to create his garments. His sartorial fingerprint is identifiable as “reshaping the fit of menswear garments, to be appropriate for the younger crowd.” Star founder of his brand, Pirrone is still very active on social networks- its Instagram account has over 55k followers- because “we also put a little lifestyle [on Instagram], not just the suit but also everything else. In fact, followers often ask my advice on clothing, especially younger ones.” In matters of style Pirrone has a clear inspiration: “as a way of thinking and creating, I am inspired by Tom Ford, but Agnelli’s elegance will always be number one for me.”

The sum of all these examples demonstrates a vital, living, breathing sector, increasingly out to turn men’s made-to-measure fashion into the quintessential frontier of masculine elegance today.

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