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Borrelli

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
The Borrelli store has topped the list of my favourite stores. It now features everything --- actually it has been for a while, but Borrelli is always the shirtmaker that we hold dear --- everything including suits, sweaters and dress shoes on top of shirts, ties and lounge wear. Everything is made in house, so you are not looking at someone else's production in disguise. The quality of the production is of extremely high quality, especially for the suits and the shoes; just the fabric itself is breath-taking. I do not plan to make comparisons with other makers like Kiton and Attolini, as they are all Beethovens and Brahms and do not deserve comparisons by my naivety --- although I do want to remind you that neither Kiton nor Attolini offers as wide range as Borrelli at this level. Kiton does offer a limited selection of knitwear, which I assume they are produced in-house. I know I do not post often and when I do they are always my one-sided opinions, thus I seek my redemption here by posting pictures of the entire Borrelli booklet that comes with a suit (US$2800) which outlines their production. (Pictures taken conveniently with my Sony Clie on my computer desk.) I am planning to do a small project: a side-by-side comparison of different shirt makers, though I know I will be looking forward to many hours of picture taking and writing. One of these days ... However, for those who could not muster up the courage to try a Borrelli shirt (or if you are anti-Neapolitans?) and would like detail pictures of a Borrelli shirt with my humble commentaries, drop a line on this board. Please also post your comments extensively on suit-making after viewing the pictures. I expect no less from you guys. Hope you all like it. I took a lot of time taking the pictures, and it's 1:15am in New York ... I will check back in a week, hopefully I won't see an empty board then ... ... Naturlaut
post #2 of 10
Great post. I've been wanting to get my hands on a Borrelli suit or sportcoat ever since I first saw them in Robb Report. They are nearly nonexistant on the West Coast though. One of these days I'll find one... It looks like they are making their own suits?? I didn't expect that.
post #3 of 10
I typed up the last page (the one with the crest) and ran it throughthe Babel Fish translation engine. Here is what it came up with: Its Real Height Vittorio Emanuelle Duca of Savoia, Prince of Naples for Grace of God and Hereditary Right Head of The Real House of Savoia Wanting to give to Luigi Borrelli A special and public mark of its esteem and appreciation, has ordered to grant to us such. Company the facolta of fregiare of the Coat of arms of the Real House the own standards, with the "Supplier of the Real House of Savoia ." Rilasciamo therefore the present Diploma, waves turns out this exclusive concession. Recorded to __ the 16 Dell directory of the Suppliers of the Real House. Can anyone translate it better? I can get the gist - I always wondered what that crest was about, now I know.
post #4 of 10
As an aside, the last time I passed by the Melbourne Borrelli store, about a week ago, all the double-breasted suits in the window had been buttoned backwards. Guess you can't find good help anywhere these days... Nick.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I typed up the last page (the one with the crest) and ran it throughthe Babel Fish translation engine. Here is what it came up with: Its Real Height Vittorio Emanuelle Duca of Savoia, Prince of Naples for Grace of God and Hereditary Right Head of The Real House of Savoia Wanting to give to Luigi Borrelli A special and public mark of its esteem and appreciation, has ordered to grant to us such. Company the facolta of fregiare of the Coat of arms of the Real House the own standards, with the "Supplier of the Real House of Savoia ." Rilasciamo therefore the present Diploma, waves turns out this exclusive concession. Recorded to __ the 16 Dell directory of the Suppliers of the Real House. Can anyone translate it better? I can get the gist - I always wondered what that crest was about, now I know.
Mr. Harris, Borrelli was the exclusive shirtmaker for the Savoy family of Naples (hence the translation of 'Real House of Savoia'). It is similar to Prince Charles' royal warrant for Turnbull & Asser. This Savoy family owned about 2 dozens of exclusive patterns that Borrelli made special for them and are not available to anyone else even for bespoke shirts --- that is, until recent. Borrelli stores the sample swatches in a special box, be sure to ask about the Royal Collection when you visit the store. I don't think they would display them at their department store corners. They are sea-island cotton with thread count of 200; as I remembered, the patterns include complicated checks, mainly based in blue, but it was the feel of the fabric that I remember most. It felt like silk, with a natural sheen to it. This last page is a show of their history working for the Savoy family --- very much like Gieves & Hawkes displaying rows of royal warrants. ~~~ Shirts from this fabric starts from US$480, only for custom of course. Borrelli has a minimum order of 6 shirts for the first order; any number for subsequent orders. There are more than a dozen different patterns and fabrics for a white shirt alone. The same patterns from the Royal Collections are also available in regular Italian cotton --- which are actually a notch above others already --- at US$320. Most of your orders would fall between $340 to $440. A Borrelli experience is a must for any gentleman. Regarding the suits: yes, they are all made by them in-house. As with most Neapolitan tailors, they are particularly proud of them. Thracozaag and I witnessed a performance by the Borrelli store manager who took a suit jacket, literally rolled it up, tucked it under his arm and squeezed, and took the jacket back out in perfect shape --- not a crease on the shoulder or the front body. (Sorry guys, I asked him for a picture but he shyly refused.) Thracozaag witnessed the same performance at Kiton Custom Shop. The Borrelli canvas feels very different from what you'd see from Brioni or Oxxford. (A canvas is what comes between the suiting fabric and the lining, and it remains to be the pinnacle of achievement for every suit maker. No two houses utilize the same canvas in the same way. Though some would consider me crazy, but if you are obsessive enough, Kiton's canvas is a must-see. Forget about all the books and websites you've read. One trip to the Kiton custom shop is worth a thousand hours of reading.) I did not get a chance to see the actual Borrelli canvas, but the Kiton canvas omits layers of linen, leaving only one layer of linen over a horse-hair felt, then a cotton felt, hand-stitched together, of course. I assume the Borrelli canvas to be closer to Kiton's. Brioni also uses a layer of horse-hair. Other canvases I have seen feature one or two more layers of linen, even nylon (God forbid.), before it reaches the cotton felt. One thing about making your suit from a local tailor that you should know: they order canvases from 'canvas makers' that are mass-produced, and they come 'ready-stitched' --- by machine, of course; and since horsehair is much more expensive, most may omit this much-needed luxurious layer. This horse hair layer gives the needed shape of the body, therefore the body will stay in shape for many years to come; it also adds as an additional insulation. Thus it is another reason why I would rather get a suit from Brioni, Kiton,etc. than get one from a local tailor who would probably charge me a thousand less. (My ability to fit perfectly into a Brioni 38 regular is another incentive. I do not need an inch of alteration for Brioni jackets or shirts. I thank my parents a million times for that.) I'm sure some would argue against it (sorry, Mr. JoeG), but that falls in a separate discussion. Shoulder padding in Borrelli is a one-piece pad of soft cotton felt. Pants are extremely tapered, more so than Attolini. There are about eight models of dress shoes and one or two models of casual suede shoes available ready-made. They are also available for custom-order, but I do not know if they are available for bespoke. At first glance they resemble Mantellassi (even the leather), though they have a more discreet square toe. The whole cut was beautiful --- however, I will open a separate discussion on whole cut later, as it is my favourite. There are double sole and Norwegian welt models; nothing too Lattanzi-like (triple welt). I believe the leather is from Italian tannery instead of English, as they are softer, thinner, and more fragile (hey, nothing is perfect), but a slight chance that I may be mistaken. There also lacks the burnished patina one would find in English shoes. The double monk-strap features a double sole in contrasting stitches, and the straps are not aligned parallel like the Grenson Felstead or the RL model from Edward Green (not Westminster). I did not try on the shoes.
post #6 of 10
Just wanted to add my two lire (about how much it's worth) to this thread:  Ever since visting Naples, I've fallen in love with the Neapolitan style of clothing.  The cross-pollination between Naples and Savile Row has been an endless source of fascination for me (especially considering how much Italians denigrate the English, particularly when it comes to food).  Kiton, Attolini and Borrelli have formed a holy trinity in this regard.  All houses have their own distinctive philosophies (which are FIERCELY upheld and extolled) which give each their own unique flavour.    The only quibble I have with Borrelli's magnificent shirts is with, ironically the buttons.  They're simply TOO thick (or perhaps a certain amount of beveling on the edges would expediate the buttoning).  In this aspect, I prefer Kiton and Attolini shirts, not to mention the best shirt I've ever seen or tried....Anna Matuozzo.  The suits LOOK amazing.  The fabric shimmers, and the garment fluidly drapes down, almost alive, perhaps speaking of the skilled tailoring tradition passed down from generation to generation.  I especially like the elegant puckering the shoulders attain from being attached by hand.  Another wonderful feature (most prominently in Borrelli and Attolini) is the tapering done on the sleeves and pant legs.  For those accustomed to heavy padding along the shoulders, wearing a neapolitan suit for the first time can be a bit disconcerting.  The suit really does mould to the contours of your body, and after several wearings..conforms to these contours.  You truly are in control of the suit, not the other way around.
post #7 of 10
An unconfirmed rumor, but I heard it at several stores that carry both brands. Kiton hired away one of Borrelli's shirt makers and went into the shirt business. Then Borrelli returned the favor, hiring one of Kiton's best to do tailored clothing. I'm not sure of the exact names of the gentlemen involved, and I may have the order of departures confused. But apparently high level job switching is almost unheard of in Italy where employees usually stay with the same company for life. BTW Andrew, closest place to carry Borrelli tailored clothing is Lawrence Covell in Denver. It's available in only a handful specialty stores- I can post them if anyone's interested, and the two boutiques. I second everyone's affection for the clothing. Amazing stuff. The tattersall shirts in particular are personal favorites.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
The sad thing is, these wonderful shirtmakers/suitmakers/shoemakers are all in the grips of large retail businesses.  There are literally hundreds of houses working in Napoli or Firenze that the 'Western' world does not recognize, and they remain hidden among all the other ninety-nine, each working hard at their trade, waiting for the same recognition we give to Kiton or Borrelli.  Lattanzi was a nobody until Zintala picked him up and Massimo Bizzocchi promoted him big time here in US --- now an average Lattanzi sells for over a thousand (with the exception of sandals, which retail in a Japanese store for around $700+).  Kiton is marketed by Bizzocchi, while Lobb by Hermes, and so on, and so forth.  Barneys is now bringing two or three other Italian shoemakers (Harris and Lidfort) to US, prices ranging from low $400 to $800.  Borrelli is one of the few who is still privately owned and managed.  To be honest, Americans' taste is dictated by Saks, Neiman, Bergdorf, and such, and by the price tag they put of their products --- I mean, at $525 a Kiton shirt and $325 a Borrelli shirt of almost the same quality (difference only in style) where do you think the $200 go to?  The underpaid Kiton seamstresses?  Or, dare I say, Mr. Bizzocchi --- who is also the US representative for Lattanzi?  A pair of Lattanzi's oxford for $2200 and an Edward Green for $890?  A Burini shirt for ~US$220(Swank Shop, Hong Kong, at regular retail) and a Brioni shirt for $320?  A Lobb shoe polish for $20 and an Edward Green for $6 (£4)?  Need I name more of these examples? Many of these makers have become icons in the American society.  People buy it as a status symbol, as a reward for their worldly achievements; the sense of intimacy has been totally lost.  (A construction worker who made his fortune making sound-proof boards in New York once purchased 4 suits from the Brioni store on 57th Street fully knowing that he will not have a chance of wearing them.  Another one walked in and shamelessly said "I want to look like Donald Trump".  Of course he did not leave the store empty handed, though I doubt his mission was accomplished at all.)  Only now I understand why some Savile Row firms would not submit themselves to this abuse.  I still remember my trip to Anderson & Sheppard, warmly welcomed by Mr. John Hitchcock, who I believe had been at 30 Savile Row for the last 30 years (you could tell from his slight stoop at his upper back), or my visit to New York's Olivier's, a place specialized in bespoke Neapolitan shirts (all hand stitched, no less than Borrelli) starting at merely $220 (though due to my request for the DJA cotton and numerous specifications it came out to be $400+) --- which is a store that no one knows about, but Thracozaag and I had a wonderful 3-hour conversation with the tailor on shirt-making, something that you can't enjoy with the part-time sales in John Lobb stores. Thracozaag, I double your opinions on Anna Matuozzo's work, which I had a wonderful chance of seeing in Tokyo (though of a different label "˜A.M.' instead of one with her full name on it).  Her collars were similar to Borrelli but with a slight flare.  It is only a matter of time before one of these "˜representatives' bring them here to US and sell for 30% higher than even the price Ms. Matuozzo had in her little store in Napoli.  I hope Mr. Bizzocchi is not reading my post.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Thracozaag, I double your opinions on Anna Matuozzo's work, which I had a wonderful chance of seeing in Tokyo (though of a different label "˜A.M.' instead of one with her full name on it).  Her collars were similar to Borrelli but with a slight flare.  It is only a matter of time before one of these "˜representatives' bring them here to US and sell for 30% higher than even the price Ms. Matuozzo had in her little store in Napoli.  I hope Mr. Bizzocchi is not reading my post.
If that happens, you'll see the first 1000 dollar cotton shirt on the market, mark my words.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Can anyone name other smaller, lesser-known makers (of suits, shirts, shoes, etc.) of distinct quality?
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