Want a savile row suit, but can’t get to London? Fear not. Meet the bespoke tailors in your part of the globe.
While some aspects of the clothing trade have changed enormously thanks to digital technology, others, such as fine tailoring, are notable for their unbending approach to digitization. A bespoke suit requires multiple face-to-face fittings with the tailor sizing up the client, adjusting, and re-adjusting until the fit is perfect. You can’t do that over Instagram. Not everyone can squeeze a trip into London’s Savile Row for the sake of a well-cut wardrobe, so we’ve picked out a few choice tailors across the world. Read on, and you need never buy off-the-peg again.
What links President John F. Kennedy to France’s national football team? Their tailor, of course. Francesco Smalto was born in Italy, trained in Paris and worked in New York, at JFK’s personal tailor H. Harris. Returning to France in 1962, he went on to establish one of the capital’s most prestigious gentleman’s outfitters, dressing everyone from François Mitterrand to King Hassan II of Morocco.
What’s the secret to Smalto’s success? An inimitable mix of inner comfort and outer beauty, says the firm’s current director Agnès Sarah Espinasse. “Francesco wanted to combine elegance with comfort,” she says. “Many other tailors make suits that are cut close to the body, but few of them are as comfortable.”
Smalto passed away in 2015, yet his company is still innovative, creating garments such as “Le Smoking Foulard”, or the “Scarf Tuxdeo”, the world’s lightest dinner jacket; it weighs just 11 ounces and is ideally suited to formal functions in warm climates. Bespoke suits start at US$9,400, while made-to-measure is $3,500, a fair price to join the likes of presidents and kings.
44 Rue François 1er
Located a 40-minute drive away from Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles.
How did this British-born, New York-based tailor come to make suits for some of the biggest names in Hollywood? Simple, explains Leonard Logsdail. “One day the telephone went,” he says. “There was a woman who said, ‘Would you like to make a suit for Robert De Niro?’” Logsdail accepted the commission, which came from the costumiers of the 2006 film The Good Shepherd. He went on to make suits for other cast members, including Alec Baldwin and Michael Gambon, and word spread.
In most lines of business, an association with the stars draws in new trade, yet Logsdail says his movie credentials have only helped to a degree. “At the level I’m at it gets harder and harder to impress people,” he says. Having set up his own Savile Row business at the age of 21, Logsdail relocated to the United States 27 years ago, and has since gained a reputation for his exacting quality and easygoing manner.
“You’ve got to like your tailor because sometime soon you’ll be standing in his changing room with your trousers off,” he says. You also have to be able to afford him, and at $8,500 for a bespoke suit, Logsdail is a little more expensive than Savile Row, though he’s making no apologies for his price point. “Its a bit higher,” he admits. “But it’s a bit better, too.”
9 East 53 Street
New York, NY 10022
Located a seven-minute walk away from Waldorf Astoria New York
Few of us can visit the southern Italian city of Naples without being impressed by the local style of dress, particularly among the gentlemen. Sartoria Solito was founded by Luigi Solito immediately after World War II, and remains a local family business, dispensing peerless Neapolitan tailoring to both locals and tasteful out-of-towners.
“The most important thing for good tailoring is to understand the needs of the customer without changing the style of the house,” explains Luigi Solito Jr, the founder’s great-grandson. “Our task is to make the client love, and become excited by, our work.”
It’s not hard to find affection for Solito’s softer Mediterranean style, which only uses light canvas, with soft shoulders and high arms. Suits start at around $4,000, and that includes expert, southern Italian guidance on tailoring choices from Luigi and his colleagues.
Sartoria Solito via Toledo, 256
Narin Bowonnaowarux founded his business in 1997, on returning from Paris. Though he trained at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne—which numbers Issey Miyake and Yves Saint Laurent among its graduates—Bowonnaowarux doesn’t limit himself to traditional French tailoring.
“We meet the needs of our customers,” he says. “If someone wants shoulder pads, or something light without a lining, we can do that, too. Often, I’ll ask them about their background, to find whether they are, say, a recent graduate, or senior businessman or lawyer, then we’ll make something that really suits them.”
Bowonnaowarux’s fabrics come from some of Europe’s most prized manufacturers, such as Holland & Sherry and Loro Piana, while his clientele is drawn from across Southeast Asia. His suits cost upwards of $500, and business remains brisk. “I think we’re known as one of the best in the region,” he says. “We used to offer womenswear too, but we haven’t got time for dresses now.”
180 Sukhumvit Road
(between soi 8 and 10) Klongtoey
Located 15 minutes away from Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
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