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Napoli su Misura Interview - Part II

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
This is a continuation of my interview with Mina Adamo and Dino Romano of Napolisumisura. You can read the first part here.

SF: Is the Neapolitan-style jacket better for some than others? For instance, maybe someone who wants to hide their own shape rather than reveal it would prefer a more structured jacket?

Mina Adamo: Often, one thinks about bespoke as something that is adapted to a person, and that person's characteristics. So a dropped shoulder, for instance. It's really about understanding the client, and if he wants to disguise that – imagine a client who hunches over with the arms forward and has prominent shoulder blades. The first thing I try to understand is if the client wants me to follow the outline of their body, or instead make that feature less evident. It's just a matter of whether the client wants the jacket to adapt to them, or whether they should be “adapted” to the jacket, in order to hide “defects”.

SF: Is it always possible to hide such “defects”?

MA: Not 100% of the time. For instance, you could also have someone with shoulders very pulled back. So you cut the jacket like that. But they're not going to be standing like that all day. Sometimes they'll be seated and might get more comfortable and slouch a little bit, and then the fit will look “off”. But it's only because the fit has been adapted to when the person is standing, and the jacket can't be simultaneously perfect for their standing, very erect posture, and their seated, more slouched posture. It's still a jacket, not skin.

The same is true of sleeve pitch – some people carry their arms a little bit behind them, so that RTW jackets will always sleeves that are off for them. But then they sit down and put their arms in front of them, of course the sleeves are not going to look clean anymore. But I make a jacket to fit the best the largest percentage of the time.

SF: What are the first things you see when you look at a jacket during a fitting?

MA: It depends on the client and on the jacket. The “classic” problems are the things you notice first, for instance a dropped shoulder on a new client, a sleeve that needs to be rotated, a shoulder that should be shorter or longer. Then I put the length and the buttoning point where I like it. Then I ask what the client likes. If I did the jacket I like, all the jackets would be the same. For instance, I don't like a very long jacket, but neither do I like one that shows your rear end either. For me it's enough to cover the seat. And then it will be a little bit longer in front, which is the classic Neapolitan style, and which I like. But there are some clients that prefer the front and back even, so we do them even also.

SF: How would you suggest that someone prepare for a first meeting with you?

MA: Relax!

Dino Romano: And to tell us what you have in mind, what you want to do and why. We try to get to a relaxed conversation, and understand what needs a client has.

MA: Sometimes a client will start to worry about whether it's possible for us to do this or that, but it's best just to start with: what do you want? What are you looking for? And then we can figure out if the style of Napolisumisura, which is always going to be fundamentally a Neapolitan jacket, will be a good choice. We adapt our style to what the client wants, listen to what they want, and go beyond just doing one style of jacket, perhaps more so than other tailors in Naples, but it will always be a Neapolitan jacket.

Also because I don't want to do things that I don't know how to do well. So say a client comes looking for really English details – for instance fishtail back trousers – first, I don't like copying something like that, second, I don't have the time to do it, because it involves learning a whole new technique. I prefer to do what we know how to do, and I wouldn't want to risk the client ending up unsatisfied. It's not that I don't like English tailoring, it's that it's not something that belongs to me like Neapolitan tailoring does.

DR: Our style is that of the Neapolitan sartoria. Certainly there's a wide range within the Neapolitan sartoria, with many variants inside that range. Maybe there's an idea of Neapolitan style of trousers as short and skin tight, but that's not true. It's an exaggeration produced by brands that want to get attention.

MA: Bespoke is different from RTW. Making a flat front, straight leg, short trouser is simpler, for RTW. Already when you start adding pleats or a wider leg, it's more difficult to produce RTW. But in bespoke, there's no problem. As long as the Neapolitan methods of production remain, the cut, the type of stitching, etc.., then many stylistic details can be changed.

SF: What do you hope that clients feel when they visit the new location?

DR: My thought is that, for those that have known us, they will come here and see that we are growing while maintaining the same style and aesthetic.

MA: Above all, I hope that they feel at home. Our place is not the classic “high fashion boutique” or stuffy sartoria, even though what we make is of very high quality. But I want to move away from an environment where the clients are afraid to ask something, which I don't like. Because I don't like to enter a place and feel like somebody is peering down at me – I'd rather feel comfortable.

I always say that I think of Napolisumisura a little bit as my child. My father always said, and it's true, that parents grow with their children. In the sense that you grow up with the baby, its first emotions and experiences, and all the things you need to do to take care of it. For us, there are two parts of Napolisumisura: we who produce the clothes and the clients who order them. It's a constant education for me, meeting new clients and hearing their ideas, and suggesting things I hadn't considered. For instance the pocket that we added inside our jackets this year started out as a request from a client.

Napolisumisura is a collaboration between all of us, Dino and I, the tailors, the clients, even including, perhaps too poetically, but indulge me, the city of Naples itself. It brings me great happiness to be able to export a new idea of what Naples can be, that's different from the caricatures in films. For me, that's even better than selling even a thousand jackets.


Books of cloth ready for inspection.


The main room of the new location. In this area will likely be ties, scarves, and other accessories for sale. The lit room in the back is where the tailors will be. Some of the tailors will be located here, while the rest will continue to work in the workshop outside of Naples.


The door leading out to the balcony.
post #2 of 33
Nice interview, David. I enjoyed reading that.
post #3 of 33
Unbel, I'm guessing you speak Italian, right?

She's amazingly candid too -- 'Also because I don't want to do things that I don't know how to do well. So say a client comes looking for really English details – for instance fishtail back trousers – first, I don't like copying something like that, second, I don't have the time to do it, because it involves learning a whole new technique. I prefer to do what we know how to do, and I wouldn't want to risk the client ending up unsatisfied. It's not that I don't like English tailoring, it's that it's not something that belongs to me like Neapolitan tailoring does.'
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks for reading, guys. Glad you enjoyed.

Yes - interview was conducted in Italian (same for the Isaia interview, as well as upcoming interviews with Luciano Barbera and Antonio Liverano). I did the translation into English - any lack of eloquence on the part of interviewees is purely due to my crude translations.
post #5 of 33

Beautiful interview,  Bel Ragazzo.  You have inspired my upcoming trip to Naples.

post #6 of 33
Great read, thanks for the awesome work!
post #7 of 33
"Maybe there's an idea of Neapolitan style of trousers as short and skin tight, but that's not true. It's an exaggeration produced by brands that want to get attention."

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3swt0n/
post #8 of 33
It's really amazing how much they've grown in just a few short years. And they are totally unlike any other tailoring operation in Naples.
post #9 of 33
To be fair, few of tailors in Naples are willing to travel. At least to the extent that Mina and Dino are. They're growing as fast as they are because they've filled an important need in the market.
post #10 of 33
I understand that. I think they have also sanitized what is usually a very, err, "rustic" experience. Some of us are up for that, but most are not, and would prefer something closer to a Neapolitan W.W. Chan.
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post

I understand that. I think they have also sanitized what is usually a very, err, "rustic" experience. Some of us are up for that, but most are not, and would prefer something closer to a Neapolitan W.W. Chan.

Do you mean NSM is to Rubinacci what Chan is to Savile Row? That is an interesting idea. I think Chan is more willing to deviate from their house style (whether successful or not) than NSM. Chan also prefers to go to completed product quickly and make adjustments later (at least for their US trips).
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by poorsod View Post

Do you mean NSM is to Rubinacci what Chan is to Savile Row? That is an interesting idea. I think Chan is more willing to deviate from their house style (whether successful or not) than NSM. Chan also prefers to go to completed product quickly and make adjustments later (at least for their US trips).

No, not at all. All I mean that NSM runs an efficient, well-oiled machine of a business that caters to its foreign clients, and all for a reasonable price. The comparison has nothing to do with their style relative to anyone else's, or their flexibility thereof.

I would, however, be interested to hear what Mina and Dino mean when they refer to "Neapolitan" style. I don't think there is a simple answer to that, yet everyone--tailors included--like to act like there is.
post #13 of 33
Matt, I know this has been debated ad nauseum, but I think I still disagree with your position. While it's not true that there is a single, uniform look, there is something meaningful to the term "Neapolitan cut." It doesn't mean every tailor cuts that way, or that everyone who does even produces the same looking jacket, or even that a single tailor will produce the same exact silhouette. But there are some general parameters to what we mean, and they can be used to describe a generalizable Neapolitan jacket.

Who was it, Mill? Or Hume? Who described the names we assign to classes of things. And said that while the description never fits quite right, it fits right enough. The analogy was families. We can say people from a certain family look X way - and that description won't fit anyone in particular, but when grouped together, you can sort of see how the description fits. Esp when compared to other families.
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

Matt, I know this has been debated ad nauseum, but I think I still disagree with your position. While it's not true that there is a single, uniform look, there is something meaningful to the term "Neapolitan cut." It doesn't mean every tailor cuts that way, or that everyone who does even produces the same looking jacket, or even that a single tailor will produce the same exact silhouette. But there are some general parameters to what we mean, and they can be used to describe a generalizable Neapolitan jacket.

And what are those parameters? What is popular in Naples today and what comes out of Naples today is not like what you see in vintage photos that pre-date all the international attention. Believe me, I've tried to distill a definition in the past. Anything you can come up with will either by hopelessly vague or reflect a cartoonish pastiche. Unfortunately, the latter is more accurate than it should be. Take the shirt-set sleeve, as an example. Most would say that is a pretty essential feature, no? Yet, there are different ways to execute it that achieve a very different look. Moreover, before the global craze for all things Neapolitan, it was typically reserved for more casual garments. Only now do you see it on everything--and in its most obvious, exaggerated form.

Then there is the high gorge. That too has fluctuated with time--and is now usually exaggerated as well. The drape? No Neapolitan tailor I know of or whose work I've seen executes anything like the drape cut associate with A&S or Scholte. People just mean the extra cloth between the chest and shoulder. But Mariano tells me that is not a purposeful feature. It just happens sometimes, depending on the client and the cloth. Maybe some tailors now aim for it, but that too is the result of "Neapolitan" becoming a brand, not the cause of it.

Many of the other things I can think of that remain fairly constant are actually broadly typical of all Italian tailoring, like the three-roll-too buttoning, the shorter jacket length, and rounded-off features (barchetta breast pocket, patch pocket profile, etc.).

The one thing that may be truly constant and unique of Neapolitan bespoke is the lightness and softness of the construction. But most mass-produced Neapolitan stuff doesn't have that.
post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

To be fair, few of tailors in Naples are willing to travel. At least to the extent that Mina and Dino are. They're growing as fast as they are because they've filled an important need in the market.

And fulfillment is prompt. Businesses that make good product often fail because of poor management and lack of infrastructure. I think that Dino said something about having to use a "minimum amount of business skills" to become successful in their niche.
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