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Milan/Como/Florence trip report....

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
What a week.... Jill and I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Milan to work on some projects and get some ideas.  As promised, I did bring the camera this time for those who don't generally run over to Italy very often.  I put in a description of what we are working on at the bottom of this looooong post so those who could care less don't have to skim past it. What's in style...  I had to take pictures because knowing my sense of humor most of you would think i was teasing you. ORANGE, not just a bit of rusty olive mind you - ORANGE pants. Milan is behind Dallas here since our prison work details wear these.  Now for some cool stuff that I really Liked: The Brioni store was very nice - Via Gesu has the three nicest shops in my opinion - Brioni, Kiton and Tincati (Latanzi in betweeen.) with Tincati being hands down the nicest stuff.  The camera battery died before we got to Tincati but here are some nice shots from Brioni and Kiton: Pic1:  Why Brioni should fire their ad people if I can get this shot at night, in the rain, through glass: Next: Kiton, Kiton, Kiton - nuff said.   Latanzi:  We went in here the following day and WOW do they have nice stuff.  Thier Polo boots were $5000... about half what I pay for an entire polo HORSE generally but they were gorgeous.   Canali, Canali, Corneliani Saw a bunch of these cashmere sweaters with zip collar being worn solo or under a jacket - most in ORANGE of course.  I goofed - at the street market Saturday in Milan they had a table of REALLY nice ones for 75 Euros and I passed.... 300-500 elsewhere. [size=5]What're we up to[/size=5]... Socks - production confirmed, ready to roll, shippin sock project monday as soon as I setup the website stuff for it over the weekend. Ties - Ohhhhhhhh did we have fun in this area.  I've been pleased with the silk mills we have been using but have wanted some new ones that were a little more unique.  For example, one mill we use is very good, very expensive and pretty much every one of the top 20 tie makers (quality-wise) buy there.  We went to a few smaller mills where we can get more accomplished in terms of uniqueness and ensuring that work they do for us is OURS and will not appear on someone else's collection after we put the money into the design. On some of the ones that will be coming I have no idea what the price will be yet and really don't care - it'll be worth it.  For our Campagna series we'll be doing two types of silk.  For the textured jacquard patterns we'll be able to start using 4,6 and 8 ply yarns to give them some major heft and texture.  The other is easily the nicest mogador I have ever seen - incredibly fine at 150 picks/cm and very heavy without being quite so bulky because it is so dense.  Even you guys who love to snag fingernails on your ties will have trouble snagging this stuff.  To give you an idea of how tough it is to make, we'll get about 15 ties worth PER DAY on the loom that does it assuming 24/7 operation.  For como we have found a LOT of new stuff to use and will be posting 'possibilities' once we narrow our selections to a reasonable number.  Suffice it to say that the polka dots, stripes and bottle green requests will be met.  The Cashmere/silk blend collection will get 6 new additions as well. Our target is 60 new patterns by the new year (which due to the timezone difference happens around Feb 1 in Italy :-) ).  Not much will change in construction - changing the label and moving it, adding a little booklet showing the construction technique and having the tailors handsign and number each tie.  Otherwise I like the construction and feel like it is 'done' (til the next time I wake up at 3am thinking "what if we....").  At any rate we spent 2 full days in Como, the latter one an 8am to 9pm marathon on nothing but new silks and I'm jumping up and down excited about the results.  We're actually getting big enough now where a small mill that only does very expensive and very high quality silk will really work to get the business so we'll be putting most of our focus on the two best small mills and focus on their highest end offerings to maximize our value to them.  I want the exclusivity. Pocket Squares:  Finally...  I've known what I wanted in terms of quality for some time and have had trouble finding someone who could do it.  We're actually going to do two styles - woven silk and some fine linen ones with colored edges.  This has been hard because most squares are done in China as prints on super thin silk that I flat out hate.  These will be heavier in weight, the fabric will be handfinished with a very soft hand and the edges handrolled.  I'll probably do 3-4 color combos in 2-3 designs on the first run.  (Feb 1) Shirts:  Finally have what I want to see but my shirt guy has some ramping up to do, he's hiring a few more tailors and training some of the seamstresses to do them the way I want them - more handwork and attention to detail - the world has enough mass production.  Biggest debate right now is balancing the MTM and RTW program.  I am leaning toward putting more money into fabrics for the MTM program because each pattern of RTW is 150 shirts or so which limits us in terms of space and dollars.  Fabric-wise we will be able to offer the D&J Andersen, Thomas Mason, Pronti, Canclini, Albini and yes, finally, Riva fabrics in the "Absolutely ridiculous" quality category and keep the RTW collection to the slightly ridiculous level.  The holdup here is simply ramping production - we have the details ironed out but need a few more tailors and seamstresses because at the level I want to do I simply can't afford mistakes.   Trousers:  HOPE to have them ready March 1.  Little frustration here but again, with the fabrics we're using I won't screw around with the tailoring - has to be perfect. The interesting and weird:  We took a run down to Florence on Sunday to talk more with some leather guys.  Not planning on much here but there are antelope and lamb suedes they use in shirts and light jackets that I am after.  Got one for myself but mainly to use as a starting point because it is machine stitched and I want it pick stitched by hand at the edges.  Excited about this one but it is back burner right now.  Also looking at tie cases since seven folds do not like being rolled up.  I think the best design idea here is to have the case fold in half - you would double 3-4 ties, place them in the case and then fold it over and snap it shut.  Excellent leather, silk lined is what I am toying with. Some odds and ends... Chatted with Darren in London yesterday, way toooo briefly because we had to catch a flight (which we missed of course, resulting in going back from Gatwick to Heathrow.) some interesting joint projects coming there including some trunk show type events in NYC with Darren, Vass, Andy and Alex - details on that will be released jointly soon.  I can confirm for the record that you are unlikely to meet a finer gentleman than Darren and his work is beautiful.  He liked the wildly printed silk lining of my jacket so maybe we'll have to make linings for him :-)
post #2 of 18
Carlo, Great pics... Off-topic: With the discussion of digital cameras in the lifestyle section, I just wanted to inquire about the model of your camera. Those pictures are beautiful, and eliminate most of the background noise that plagues my compact (Canon ELPH S230). Secondly, when are you planning the artisan enclave? How do we sign up? NCT
post #3 of 18
So many beautiful things, so little time. Great pics. Carlo, I'm glad to hear that you're taking your time and doing things right. Although I am interested to see your whole collection, I am particularly looking forward to your new ties and pocket squares.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
NCT - I use the high end Sony Mavica but have the advantage of photographing clothing all the time :-) Show will be in early March in NYC, working on a couple other dates and an invitation is easy.  We're going with the "If you are interested in such things and want to drink on my bartab show up and have fun with us".  The group shares a rather laid back approach to life/clothing/business so I expect it to be fun. Ranjeev - thanx. I know it is maddening for our customers and for us that some things take soooo long but I look at a lot of lines that start great, earn a bit of acknowledgment and then rush to do everything under the sun - poorly. I think I drive my suppliers even more crazy with the "that's nice, let's see how we can make it better" comments because for several years they've been getting pounded on to cut costs. I figure if we do it right and keep in mind what we want to accomplish (small overall collection, very high quality, determination to keep it fun) then it will work out. Meanwhile, we're doing what we really love and can use 'because it is Thursday" as an excuse to go to Italy and write it off.
post #5 of 18
I love orange. Comes into vogue every 5 years or so. Not often so bright as this year though. Jil Sander was ahead of the crowd, as usual.
post #6 of 18
Damn, I'd love to go to that NYC trunk show you guys are putting on. I just may have enough earned miles for it... /poor college kid Very exciting news. I'm super-happy about your new pocket squares and MTM shirt program. I think it's about time I stepped up from Jantzen. You're able to do smaller-sized French cuffs for my super-thin wrists, right?
post #7 of 18
Great pic's All the stuff looks great I don't know about the fur(?) trimmed zip/jacket in the first pic though Is there going to be a website for your stuff and if so web orders?
post #8 of 18
Holy $#.+ Chuck, can I just have one of each? GREAT pictures. I'll have to read through the rest later, gotta clean the drool off my keyboard...
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Shearling is BIG, as are leather and fur in Italy.  I almost bought the jacket below for Jill but we're having Darren make a coat for her with some Carlo Barbera cashmere so I held off.  I'm gonna do the collar similar to the coat below though, probably sable.  We don't worry much about the whole paint throwing thing around here - this is Dallas and Jill is a really good shot with a .22 (which you can conceal in your fur coat here) Alias - the nice thing in MTM is I that I can pass your measurements off to the tailor and let them worry about it :-) should visit Kabbaz though and get a PERFECT shirt (or 6). Alex_O - whoops,, the forum serves as my unpaid market research firm - they all fell for that slick line I fed them about 'who wants to be an unpaid guinea pig and have their great ideas profit someone else?'.  Subtle, huh? About 50% of the changes we make come directly from forum guys - make them happy and the average guy does backflips. In our next tie collection one will be named 'that friggin bottle green tie the forum guys asked for'.... of course that's a working title. Oh, and some more pics from Berluti's window... Best window in Milano goes to Duomo though:  It isn't just the beauty of the buildings in Italy that moves you, it is the incredible SCALE of the architecture.  If the Catholic church ever gets in financial trouble they could have a yard sale and raise a few trillion on ebay overnight.
post #10 of 18
Alias - the nice thing in MTM is I that I can pass your measurements off to the tailor and let them worry about it :-) should visit Kabbaz though and get a PERFECT shirt (or 6).
Bah, I'll have to pass his interview process first. Maybe when I'm in a financial/career position to need perfect shirts (which should be in about 20 more years...)
post #11 of 18
Thank you x 100.
post #12 of 18
Wow... great pics. They prove Italians really are the world's best when it comes to using color and texture. I really love that Pal Zileri rig. I'm going to look into getting a pair of yellow cords like those, I have the perfect tweed hacking jacket to go with them. Notice how on the rig the yellow in the cords make the color of the jacket explode, it's brilliant. Also, definitely send me a PM when you're in NY with the rest of the boys.
post #13 of 18
Carlo, 'that friggin bottle green tie the forum guys asked for' Will you make it in the 62" length ? I am always on the lookout for that perfect shade of green .
post #14 of 18
In the rightmost Berluti window...third from the that an invisible shoe? It looks like something that came off of Robert Patrick in Terminator 2...
post #15 of 18
Just a few more notes about what was "IN" there this season.  I'm too lazy to retype the post I wrote on Andy's, so I'll just paste it directly here, if anyone's interested.  
Did you find any other bargains (besides the cashmere zipper sweaters) that would give me an excuse to buy a plane ticket? Or did the Euro/Dollar thing mess up your bargain hunting?
Hmm... well it depends on your definition of "bargain". In general, I would say "No". The euro at $1.30 was painful. The $10 cokes in the hotel room were a bit much ~ but that could've just been the hotel. Let's see. The cashmere half-zip sweaters are my biggest regret. I rarely wear menswear, so I wasn't really in the market personally, but if I HAD been, I think I would've found some of the things in Kiton fairly reasonable (compared to US prices). Their Riva shirts (which was almost the entire collection) were E330 (approx. $430) 100% cashmere trousers were E770 ($1000). Wine, of course, is steal. Especially the new harvest (Vino novello) which just came out last week. Not that ANY wine gets old around Chuck. But it is nice for "everyday" consumption, and costs $5-10.. And no, it's not a "$10" wine.
So was orange really that prevalent? Or did you just focus on taking those pictures?
I'm afraid so. I was horrified the first time I saw it, but after a while, it kinda grows on you. Sorta festive. Just think "colors of autumn leaves", and that is what you would find on the pantalone racks of ALL the sportwear collections. Gold, honey, orange, rust, russet, etc. Orange sweaters were EVERYWHERE, and orange & light-medium blue was the most common color combo (like last year's brown/blue.) The other MAJOR trend for men and women was fur- trimmed / fur-lined outerwear. Apparently peta doesn't have a large contingent there. A few other things I noticed: ~ Mens dress shirts are no longer loud and exaggerated. In fact, they're downright conservative, for the most part. ~ Corduroy EVERYWHERE. Not just trousers, but sportcoats, as well. ~ Still seeing LOTS of brown dress shoes, regardless of trouser/suit color. I would say at least 60-70% of the shoes I saw, at least in the business & fashion districts of Milan. ~ Country look (sorry Ernest) Lots of earthtones, sweaters under sportcoats, plaid, etc.
You going to make orange socks? Ties?
Doubt it on the sox. We already have several orange ties, and I have HUNDREDS of new swatches to wade through, many of which are orange. We'll see.
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