Gentlemen, Not so long ago I visited Italy; here is a short report. Hope that it would be of interest to you. I visited Florence and Rome and my main shopping guides was "Style and the man" by Alan Flusser and your answers to my questions (both on StyleForum and on AskAndy; BTW, thank you very much for your suggestions.). Florence ======== Among other places, Flusser recommends H. Neuber and Principe. I haven't found them. Probably they are not there anymore. I visited Ugolini. Nothing special there: just a collection of ready-made brands. They carry Brioni, Burberry, Avon Celli, John Lang, Church. Prices are very good (at least, by Russian standards); for example, Brioni casual trousers cost 250 euros, Brioni sportcoat costs around 1400 euros. Still, nothing unique. I ended up purchasing some socks. Also, I visited Florence Leather School (in Santa Croce monastery). Very nice place. It is very interesting to see how real craftsmen do real work. I purchased a leather wallet for my girlfriend; it is made from very soft calf and machine-stitched. There is a personalization service (in the form of one old Italian gentlemen, who engrave gold letters right before your eyes). "We call him Goldfinger" -- as English-speaking guide suggested to a group of American tourists. Rome ==== First stop is Battistoni. Probably you heard a description of the beauty of the shop a million times -- I can't add anything new. Apart from shirts they also sell polos, trousers, even leather jackets. But nothing of these catched my attention. Now to shirts. There is a room full of shirting fabrics and ready-made shirts. Sadly, I decided to stop to purchase ready-made shirts, so I didn't looked at their RTW offerings. Apart from now infamous question about single yokes, I also asked how many fittings are necessary for first-time clients. A gentlemen from Battistoni: "At least one. We can made a sample shirt in two days. Then we will send you finished shirts by post." Me: "What is the price of bespoke shirts?" He: "300 euros." Me: "Probably this is the basic price. How much for more expensive fabrics, say, silk?" He: "Look at this fabric." (He showed me a roll of light blue fabric with very pleasant hand.) "It is very fine zephyr. In fact, it is more expensive than silk. All that we have here is either this quality or Sea Island. That's why we can set the single price for any fabric." Same price for a shirt regardless of choosen fabric? I'm not sure of you, chaps, but for me this is very unusual. Then I went to Serafini (on Via Condotti, just on the corner of the passage to Battistoni.) Rows of ready-made shirts, rows of ties. Both shirts and ties are hidden from strangers' eyes. I glanced at these rows and exited to the street. Mariano Rubinacci. I visited Roman outlet of this famous Neapolitanian company, and purchased a pair of ready-made needlecord trousers. Beat me, blame me, kill me, but I am disappointed. "Made for Rubinacci" (read: factored out to some Italian manufacturer, probably not from Naples.) Not a single trace of hand stitching. Plastic zipper. And all of these for 200 euros (maybe this is OK by Russian or American standards, but in Italy you surely can find a better deal.) They also have a big selection of ties, silk scarfs, casual shirts and knitwear. All of these are not cheap. Of course, there is also a bespoke service (both for shirts and tailored clothing.) Old Bond Street. This is a very small (just two tiny rooms) shop, run by an old Italian couple. The shop is wll hidden on Via Gregoriana, so even salesmen from neighbour shops doesn't know about it. These two rooms are packed with a huge selection of shirting fabrics (they managed to pack more varieties of fabrics than Battistoni in much smaller space). They are bespoke shirtmakers, and (accroding to Flusser) are very good, but, sadly, the owners doesn't speak English et all. I managed to purchase some interesting socks -- this is all that I was able to achieve without knowledge of Italian language. Moda Di Campagna. I visited this shop with one simple goal: to purchase a Tuscanian Maremmana coat. "Sorry, but we stock Maremmanas only in autumn." End of story. Rest of the shop is just your typical hunting/fishing clothing store -- not very fine but functional clothing from well-known makers. Who said Barbour? Yes, they stock it. Finally, some pictures: of Rubinacci's trousers and of socks. You can see the pictures there: http://public.fotki.com/andreybokhanko/italy/. I purchased cotton socks made from "Filo Di Scozia" in three different shops (Ugolini, Chiffon and Old Bond Street). All of these socks are incredibly thin. For me, this is not good -- they look like stockings when put on feet. Pay attention to the funny white threads on toes and heels of Old Bond Street socks. Gentlemen, do you know what this thread for? Also, O.B.S. socks have probably the strictest washing guide that I read in all of my life (see picture). That's all. If you want to know some additional information on one of these shops, please ask. Thank you all who read up to this line for your patience. Andrey P.S.: I posted the very same message on AskAndy Forum. Sorry I you read it twice.
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5/16/05 at 5:10am