This interview will be published in two parts, this being the first part and the second to follow shortly.
StyleForum: How did decide to enter into the world of menswear?
Mina Adamo: Primarily because it's my passion, because I like it. Because I like clothes, both for men and for women. But for men's clothes, perhaps from my father, who was always visiting the sartoria, was born an interest in menswear. And then also being here in Naples, I was fortunate because here it's easy to find work in menswear.
SF: So your father was a client, but didn't himself work in a sartoria?
SF: It seems like today, everyone working in tailoring comes from a family of tailors.
MA: Among the older people, yes. But their children have gone on to other careers. They haven't believed in this work. And it has been a low-paying career, historically. Many of the old tailors wanted their children to go to school and have a better paying job. So only rarely have the children of tailors followed in their footsteps. So much so that now we are trying to do classes for young people, because they aren't being taught by their parents.
Dino Romano: Also the younger generations did not believe in the strength of this type of activity. They didn't believe in the potential of learning this trade, and unite it with a minimal amount of business skills, and see that it is really something exceptional. Today, especially with the general economic crisis, there are some that are trying to rediscover this heritage, which isn't easy, because the old tailors of today aren't always willing and able teachers. Teaching is a different skill from doing.
SF: How do you choose the tailors that you hire?
MA: By having them make trial versions of our jackets! Dino has a series of jackets that are not that great. There's no other way.
DR: And also we look for tailors who are able to work for us, in our team. We have found some tailors who, while being very good, were completely unable to work as part of a team.
MA: There are many tailors who are good at what they do, but unable to understand what a client wants. And that's part of the difference that Napolisumisura is making. Besides offering jackets and suits, “Napolisumisura” is offering a service, which the tailors by themselves aren't able to do – consistency in our products, frequent visits, punctuality in delivery, quick in responding to emails, which even well-known names sometimes do not do. Beyond having a product that is high quality, which I would not want to compromise by one iota, to be present and responsive to the client, which a tailor can't always do.
A jacket from Napolisumisura means a jacket with all the characteristics of the Neapolitan sartoria, united with the desires of the client. A tailor may only want to produce his type of jacket. Already when you start to ask, for example, for less fullness at the sleevehead, which is a Neapolitan characteristic which American clients sometimes want less of, already the tailor may get frustrated because he's always made his jackets that way.
SF: What are the other characteristics of a Neapolitan jacket?
MA: The cut. The cut is fundamental. Then a deconstructed jacket is more popular here; we try to put as little as possible inside a jacket, whereas an English jacket is more defined and constructed.
DR: The jacket has its own natural form. If you hang the jacket up, it maintains its shape, not from canvas or wadding, but from the cut and the ironing. It's not flat, but has its own dimensionality. A more English jacket will stay more fixed and rigid, but a Neapolitan jacket has a more natural roundness that also moves with the wearer.
MA: For example the canvas has a shape, but it's not just how it's cut. It can then be moulded into different shapes. So when I pull on a jacket at the fittings, I'm shaping the canvas to your shoulders. In the process of making a jacket, 40 percent of the time spent is the tailor ironing the canvas. This gives a shape to the canvas that is appropriate for the client's needs. And that is a characteristic of the Neapolitan sartoria.
SF: How will the jacket change over time?
MA: Over time the canvas will adapt to the body of the wearer. Sometimes a client will bring us a jacket a few years to have a thorough pressing, but once the canvas has been ironed and stitched to the cloth, it maintains its shape. It will never return to its original shape, before being touched by an iron.
DR: The Neapolitan jacket becomes always more a part of the wearer, even if the wearer changes his own shape somewhat. A more "international" jacket, with a firmer shoulder and more constructed, it will always have that shape, no matter who wears it. Our jacket is more almost a cardigan, that adapts, and becomes more yours.
In case you have forgotten where you are, the windows remind you.
The balcony overlooking the busy street below. I was unlucky and got rained on the whole time I was in Naples.
Mina's office, filled with jackets ready for shipment to the United States.
Mannequins in the window, ready to be outfitted in Napolisumisura gear.