By Nephtalim Antoine
Just like any other industry in the world, tailoring has its superstars and celebrities, but I just work a little different than usual – You’ve got the tailors that are known for a certain cut or dressing celebrities and royalty or the tailors that innovated in their field with either improving a technique or finding a new one. Being part of a certain fashion house or finding their own, or being part or a certain long line of tailors – the list goes on really.
So it begs the question that is asked by many days in and day out – who are the best tailors in the world? That question has a ton of great answers but it requires a different perspective really. I’ll focus on the two tailoring Mecca’s – Italy and UK. We shouldn’t be asking the question of who’s the best but more what are the options available in these places in general and what should I be looking for.
The best way to do this is to break it down by region really and then go from there. The UK alone has way too many options to just scatter them in a jumbled list so I’ll try to do this as methodically as what makes sense.
So it’s pretty self-explanatory that we would start in this location – there are so many tailors concentrated all in one place – it’s a sight to see for sure. Now here’s how to look at Savile row – it’s an artisan’s paradise in a way and you can think of it as a district or quarter of houses, almost similar to how there are fashion houses except there aren’t anyone singular superstar designers. There are certain tailors who are highly respected in the field and revered by their customers and peers in the industry but you won’t find any of them being stalked by paparazzi or on a talk show promoting anything so to speak.
Some notable persons on the row:
Andrew Ramroop OBE – Maurice Sedwell
Edward Sexton – Sexton tailors
Oswald Boateng OBE – Boateng tailors
And notable houses:
Dege & Skinner
Gieves & Hawks
Henry Poole & co (one of the oldest)
Age like wine
One of the oldest in the business is Henry Poole & co. Located at No.15 Savile Row, they are one of the oldest tailors on the row so of course they have plenty of history serving the royal family, international celebrities and list go on. They made the very first modern dinner jacket under the designs as specified by the Prince of Wales aka Edward VII.
Gieves & Hawks is another age-old tailor and has a residence at the historic No. 1 Savile Row since 1912 but was operating since the early 1809 and even before that they were making suits for the British military. Some of their most famous characters include Duke of Cambridge, Charley Chaplin, and Sean Connery.
All the houses share a similar history and have many interesting stories and share similar clientele. The next level to descend in to would be the actual craftsmen themselves. One of the more notable and my own favorite is Andrew Ramroop. He is one of the receivers of her majesty’s OBE and a skilled craft person.
Starting his career in 1974 in the UK he initially was stuck in the back of the workshop because he was not white. Now he is the master tailor for Maurice Sedwell and leads with extreme precision and works to inspire new tailors and cutters to join the row.
You don’t have to go far to see this country’s contribution to not only tailoring but fashion as a whole. With that said there is a difference between fashion and tailoring but that’s another article for another day. Now Italy much like the UK has a big history of the craft and in the same way, they have houses like previously stated, it’s the same here. This side of the tailoring world it comes down to being about the sprezzatura of the art of appearing effortlessly put together and stylish. Now if you ask around, you’ll definitely hear about the difference there can be between the Neapolitan cut vs. Milanese cut. The Italian style is highly varied and even different between regions – Milanese in the north have an air of discretion with their grey and blue suits. Whereas suits from Naples in the south are more liberal.
This group was first established in Rome in 1945 and founded by Nazarene Fonticoli and Gaetano saving – the former a tailor and the latter an entrepreneur and they started raising interest from celebrities and heads of state and they staged the first men’s fashion in history and it is ranked as one of the most prestigious men’s fashion luxury goods brands.
It is reported that a suit from Brito I can set you back at least $6,000 and cost as much as $17,000 and can even be made with accoutrement such as 24 karat gold thread. It supposedly takes up to 22 hours to make a suit, 35 hours to make a dinner jacket, and more than 180 people worn on the jackets through phases of ironwork and contain numerous hand stitches.
Initially, as a tailoring emporium started by Genato Rubinacci himself. His son Mariano soon later took control of the company and changed it to just Rubinacci. It’s currently run by his grandson Luca. Luca has innovated and met modern challenges in many ways and he has made it a complete experience to get a suit made by Rubinacci, even going as far as to have clients stay at the company villa in Napoli, Chris around the bay in the exclusive company boat and dive into what it means when they say the “Naples style”.
Other houses have been through transformations as well such as Kiton.
Founded in 1956 by Ciro Paone and founded as CIPA later rebranding to Kiton 1968. It was named after Greek chiton which is a type of garment akin to a tunic worn by Greek aristocracy. Having 51 years of tailoring and earning prestige among industry, sporting deft delicate and softly structured version of the Neapolitan suiting made with the finest wools and fabrics that money can buy.
No matter which of the regions or tailors capture your interest they are all skilled and on par with each other, but it’s like cars – the same way one person may like sport cars another may only like coupes. It’s all about developing a relationship and language with the tailor so they can capture everything in detail that makes you who you are and give you the suit you deserve.