Heritage Craftsmanship

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We look at just what makes the ubiquitous Italian suit so unmistakably luxurious

“Dressing well is a form of good manners,” Tom Ford once said. If the designer’s pronouncement is anything to go by, one can safely conclude that the Italians are an extremely well-mannered bunch. After all, it was the Italians that coined the term sprezzatura, which loosely translates as “effortlessly stylish”. At the very epicentre of the highly evolved Italian fashion culture is the suit. Impeccably tailored and exemplary of Italian savoir-faire, the suit has established itself as one of Italy’s most famous exports.

What’s so special, you ask?

In the suitmaker’s jargon, suits can be largely classified into three categories — British, American and Italian. What, then, makes Italian suits so unmistakable? For one, there is an impressive tradition of craftsmanship. With attention to detail that goes right down to the last stitch, and with construction that boasts scientific precision, the Italian suit has been elevated to an art that cannot be easily imitated.

The Italian suit has been elevated to an art that cannot be easily imitated

Another element that sets an Italian suit apart is its trademark slim cut. The silhouette has a visible slimming effect. The shoulders are lightly padded thereby sharpening the silhouette. As opposed to, say, the British suit, the Italian suit tends to be a bit shorter in length and more fitted to the chest. One of the most recognisable traits of an Italian suit is its V shape, where it tapers towards the bottom, to a very fitted waist line. The entire look is well-structured and extremely sculpted. Trousers are fitted slim and taper towards the bottom.

Craftsmanship and fabrics

Fine craftsmanship lies at the very heart of the Italian bespoke suit. Italian sartorialists pride themselves on the quality of their fabric, most specifically the ones used by bespoke suitmakers. Naples-based luxury suitmaker Kiton, for instance, has its own wool mill, Lanificio Carlo Barbera, from where some of the world’s finest suiting fabrics emerge. Needless to say, each handmade suit that comes out of Kiton’s workshops is a veritable and very expensive work of art.

Another Italian luxury powerhouse, Ermenegildo Zegna, not only makes topnotch bespoke suits at its headquarters in Trivero, Italy, but also happens to be one of the world’s largest producers of wool, cashmere and mohair fabrics. Brioni, who has been James Bond’s official suitmaker since 1995, often works in conjunction with British cloth producer, Dormeuil to produce some of the world’s most expensive handmade suits on the planet. In addition to this, there are many smaller, family-run luxury labels, across Italy, who are striving to keep the tradition of Italian suits alive.

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