Welcome to Naples, Italy. The streets are lined with garbage, but the shops are filled with artfully crafted treasures.
In the spirit of Thomas’ summer suit post, I thought I would share my passion for Neapolitan-style tailoring. Naples has a rich history of tailoring, and the Neapolitans had a major influence on the traditional British style of suit-making. It is a tradition centered around detail, concentration, and time. And, for the Neapolitan gentleman, style is always about the individual.
“The individual has to be himself. He has to dress for his own sake. A well dressed man is someone who is comfortable in what he is wearing.” – Mariano Rubinacci, Neapolitan designer/bespoke tailor.
Mariano Rubinacci’s son, Luca, is a Sartorialist staple, and handsome Italian dandy:
Cesare Attolini Napoli is another one of Naples’ wonderful tailoring houses. It was founded in the 30’s by Vincenzo Attolini, and is now run by his grandsons, Giuseppe and Massimiliano. Vincenzo was instrumental in establishing what we think of as the Neapolitan style in suiting (high arm hole, softer cut, sculpted to the body). The house is still famous for its craftsmanship. They just opened a store in New York, so if you have $20,000+ to spend on a bespoke suit, you should definitely pay them a visit.
Most of these houses, which started out doing bespoke suits and tailoring, now do various forms of ready-to-wear in addition to bespoke, including some sportswear:
I’ve traveled to Naples twice, and both times I was struck by the style of the people on the streets (they looked and dressed nothing like these guys above — the ladies, for instance, seem to like bedazzled jeans, and shirts that have, “Sexy” written across the chest) and the amount of trash clogging up access to the shops. I was super skeptical about finding anything worth wearing that I didn’t have to have made for me. I stuck to visiting the city for its pizza, sfogliatella, and places of worship.
But last summer, to my surprise, I found what, in my ignorance, I had thought I would never find in the less pricey shops of Naples: a nice suit! And not only that, but the attention to fit and detail that I usually associate with more expensive tailoring. Shops in Naples will fit any ready to wear suit, jacket, pants, etc within a day or two. In fact, they will insist on doing so.
Some images of tailoring the Neapolitan way:
The sleeves of a Neapolitan suit are often handset and hand sewn into the arms. Traditionally, the jackets have minimal padding, which require jackets from the region to be very precisely cut and sewn.
Look at the care taken with these pants:
About a year ago the documentary filmmaker, Gianluca Migliarotti, directed O’Mast — a film exploring the culture and tradition of tailors and tailoring in Naples. There are some classic gentlemen in this trailer.
Of course, not everyone can have a bespoke suit. But the point is, whether you are getting a suit or jacket made for you, or you are buying ready-to-wear, why not be informed? There are many excellent sites to guide you through the process, and you shouldn’t be shy about asking for what you want, and making sure things fit you. And don’t be afraid to find something you will love in an unlikely place. As a queer guy looking for something well-made that will fit me and be masculine, I can certainly say that finding a suit is an adventure in openness.
[a quick thank you to Alex for her editorial eye]