Men’s Italian Suits – What You Need To Know
When you think of luxury suits are Italian designed suits the first thing that comes to mind? By all accounts, they should be and the guru is here to tell you why. Men’s Italian suits have long been the gold standard in men’s fashion since the early part of the last century. Learning the craft of suit making from fine French and European designers, the Italian’s began to hone their craft way back in the mid-1800’s. Generation after generation, men’s suit makers of Italy employed entire family’s in the process of refining and elevating the modern suit to heights that have previously never been seen.
The art of rolling, measuring, hand cutting, basting, sewing, fitting, and finishing, takes many years for a tailor to learn and sadly there are not many of these talented artisans left to share their achievements with the world. The ones who do remain form an exclusive club that take great pride in the meticulous handiwork one needs to create a truly fine garment.
New York has many refined and accomplished Italian tailors but the majority of them are still found in Italy today. Like the art of magic, the art of their trade is secretive and mystifying. Very few details about the processes utilized by these maestros are readily available to those in the fashion industry let alone the general public. For more about the history of Italian tailors, you can click here.
Who’s Who In Men’s Italian Suits?
Loro Piana was founded in 1924 as an Italian wool mill but the family’s textile roots go all the way back to 1812. The company has moved beyond textile production and is now a fully integrated menswear business. All aspects of production – textile fabrication, garment production, marketing, and retail are controlled under one house.
Arguably the most successful of the fully-integrated firms in menswear, founded by Ermenegildo Zenga, the company started as a fabric producer in 1910. By the 1970s, the company developed into a full menswear line, including the production of neckties, sportswear, and knitwear. Zegna is the largest menswear brand in the world by revenue. As well as one of the oldest menswear companies still producing fine men’s Italian suits today.
Founded by Gianni Versace in 1978, this Italian luxury fashion company produces upmarket Italian-made ready-to-wear and leather accessories. Versace is perhaps one of the first brands to really develop a full, encompassing lifestyle line. After his death in 1997, his sister Donatella took over the operation and has overseen the opening of over 1500 stores worldwide.
Founded by Mariano Rubinacci in 1932 in Naples, up until that time most Neopolitan tailoring took after the tailoring styles of what was being done in London. That all changed when Rubinacci introduced a new cut in men’s jackets. One that would be better suited to Naples’ warmer climate and more casual culture. This style of coat was then copied by many tailors in the region. It has arguably come to define a very distinct Southern Italian approach to tailored clothing.
Thanks to Nazareno Fonticoli and Gaetano Savin who founded Brioni in 1945. Brioni made important innovations in men’s fashion. Such as hosting the first menswear fashion show, which took place in Florence, Italy in 1957. Brioni became a “tailor for the stars”. Dressing men such as Gary Cooper and Clark Gable both on and off the silver screen. Their role in popularizing Italian style around the world is what cements their position as one of menswear’s greatest.
There is a short list of people who have had a revolutionary effect on the suit’s silhouette. Georgio Armani is on the top of that list. He worked as a designer for Nino Cerruti’s Hitman line, and then later as a freelancer for Zenga. In 1975 he struck out on his own and founded Armani. He developed a radical new look for suits by making a more relaxed silhouette. The widely popular, “Armani look” defined one of the most significant eras in tailored men’s clothing. It took off and he hasn’t looked back.
All these designers are on the list of The 50 Greatest Menswear Brands of All Time. To read more about them and the others on the list click here.
What To Look For When Buying Men’s Italian Suits?
When examining the value and quality of a suit, several factors need to be taken into consideration. First and foremost, the fabric is the critical determinant of a suit’s quality. It will most certainly affect the price tag, so it’s crucial to make sure that it feels great and looks luxurious. Having exquisite fabric is paramount and often many designer labels will invest heavily in the creation of new material.
Next, one must take into consideration the internal construction of the jacket. The design of the shoulder, collar, and chest will affect the way the suit “molds” itself to your body. It also plays a major part in determining the life of the garment.
Finally, you should also be aware of the attention to the amount of detail in the final touches. These include things like hand-sewn lapels and “working buttonholes” on the cuffs. Horn buttons lend personality and character to the garment.
How Do Men’s Italian Suits Differ From Others?
The American-style suit has a boxier shape to it and has a single vent in the back, higher armholes, straight lines, flap pockets and natural (almost no padded) shoulders giving you softer baggier silhouette. The jackets are normally single breasted and have 2 or 3 button closures. The trousers do not have pleats but are full cut and add to the bagginess of the overall silhouette.
The British style suit is cut in a way that slims the silhouette. It is slightly more form fitting on the shoulders and has higher armholes. They are padded in the shoulders and the jacket panels are more structured by use of stiffer chest canvas. The trousers have a more generous cut. They are higher waisted and use pleats to allow for a more contoured look than the American style trouser.
Compared to American and British cut suits, the Italian cut suit is sleek and slim. It has a lighter weight and much less bulk. The Italian style suit has been stripped down so to speak and has a more form-fitting silhouette. The jackets are cut shorter with higher placed lapels and button closures. Since the majority of the padding is gone they produce a tighter more fitted slim silhouette. The trousers are more form fitting with tapered waists that hug the hips.
Italian suit styles can be further defined by geographic areas of Roman, Neapolitan and Milanese styles. If you want to read further about how to dress more like an Italian, click here.
How Much Should You Pay For Men’s Italian Suits?
Most men are not in the position to be spending thousands of dollars on a bespoke suit. Handcrafted suits can range in price from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The term ” you get what you pay for” is just as true today as when it was first uttered.
You can expect to pay for a high-quality Italian suit that is tailored to your exact measurements. Between $3000 to $7000 dollars. The devil is in the details. Your costs will be lower if you choose basic options over luxury ones. Plastic buttons over gold or silver ones. A plain cotton jacket lining over a finely patterned silk lining and so forth.
Even the number of pockets you have can add to the cost of your suit. However, the finer the quality of the materials your suit is crafted from, the longer you can expect to own it. In addition, you can expect it to stay in finer condition longer.
Overall, you can spend thousands of dollars up front for a suit that you will own for many years. You can also shell out a few hundred dollars every other year for a lesser quality suit that won’t last as long.