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Neapolitan tailoring - why is it treated like the holy grail?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by zjpj83, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Distinguished Member

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    Is this Neapolitan tailoring thing a fad in America or will it having lasting stylistic impact? Everyone on here obsesses and lusts over everything Neapolitan. I'm not saying they're wrong to - they make a fine piece of clothing and I'll probably make the trip over someday for a shopping trip. However, other people do "soft" tailoring besides the Neapolitans. I'm just wondering when Neapolitan tailoring seemingly became the ne plus ultra of menswear.
     

  2. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    I think that there are a couple of issues:

    1. The whole "Neapolitan look" that we have all fallen victim to and is so glorified at places such as the Sartorialist is just another fad. It is not bad, but kind of whatever.

    2. Naples is sort of on the precipice between first and third world, so it is one of the places where you can find understanding of first world luxury combined with a willingness and ability to handcraft items when it is not economically feasible elsewhere in the first world.

    3. You don't have to look "Neapolitan" with bold stitching etc to get a great garment from Naples. In fact, the better tailors produce extremely British looking clothing that nobody on the street would pick out as Neapolitan or even Italian, just nice.

    4. Even though others do soft tailoring, nobody does as soft of tailoring that I know of.

    5. Even though Kiton, Borrelli etc are very well known here, when you are in Naples you don't hear English spoken and you don't see a lot of tourists which adds to the romance and feeling of discovery when you are there.

    Some of those reasons (esp #5) are kind of lame, but they do add an allure that a lot of other places don't have.
     

  3. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Distinguished Member

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    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that the allure of going to a foreign place makes it a little bit more special. And I agree, the softness is not really done by anyone else to the same extent. Even though it is "fake Neapolitan," my Borrelli RTW is some of the most comfortable, sweater-like clothing I've worn.

    Looking forward to other responses. I've got to go to bed - important Gaziano appointment in the morning. [​IMG]
     

  4. tutee

    tutee Senior Member Dubiously Honored

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    good topic.

    I am a starting member (not many posts but I have always read this forum) I would like to share my comments since this topic needs to be discussed.

    My detailed thoughts are posted in this thread at the end of the page. if you are interested

    here is what I feel

    you must be able to figure out the best possible silhouette for you NOT for dressing a mannequin. It is a huge part of your style development. There are a few things in these forums that are not properly understood by many & yet blindly lusted after. The biggest one of this is the natural shoulder myth & its intricacies. People must realize that Neapolitan shoulder at the end of the day is just a shoulder or an "option" in evolving your style. That is it.... A mere option just like a padded shoulder of dege or brioni is. Neither of them are better of worse than the other on a mannequin or in abstract....however, they do become important (over one another) when they are placed on the wearers un-even body. That is when the wearer must realize what should be left out & what should be adopted.

    Moreover, neither Neapolitan / natural shoulder nor a padded Dege / Huntsman shoulder is for all. The idea that mere wearing of natural-unpadded shoulder can make people look elegant has some seriously ridiculous connotations... which are not much different from the idea that Black goes with everything!

    I hope you understand what I am saying here.

    (& by the way Fred Astaire "natural" looking jackets most always had padding... very little though but still it was there).

    Personally, speaking I avoid spalla camacia thoroughly. My body structure is such that it would be disastrous on me no matter how skilled the tailor. I like to have a straight smooth line of the shoulder on my jackets... may that be straight, concave maybe convex but still smooth. The visual effect caused by the shirt shoulder on me is certainly not pleasing. That said, if there is anything I dislike even further (for personal reasons) is a heavily padded / narrow highly roped shoulder which is very effeminate in my opinion. At the end of the day these two types of shoulders are just options... yes that is it... a mere option (save for true Neapolitans in case of unpadded shoulders).

    In US... I have seen horrendous monstrosities passed in the name of "elusive Neapolitan elegance"... ill-fitting loose jackets with no-shape paired up with narrow & overly short trousers complete with 2.5" cuffs! & on guys less than 5'9". Same goes for London also... people walking around wearing ill-fitting highly structured / padded suits thinking that merely by wearing a militaristic silhouette they look like members of Grenadier Guards. Now where does most of this confusion arises from? You may ask.... After all isn't that why most of us leave RTW and venture into bespoke... to have a well-made well-fitted garment that is part of "us" not the garment & me... as two different entities.

    Part of this reason is when tailors become like "designer labels" this misfortune (explained above) is bound to happen. & that goes for all & anywhere... may that be A&S, Rubinacci, Kiton, or Brioni.

    regards
     

  5. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    \\Even though it is "fake Neapolitan," my Borrelli RTW is some of the most comfortable, sweater-like clothing I've worn.

    The only thing fake to me about Borrelli is the insistence at their shops that their is one way to do things in all of Naples. I think that their suits are pretty darn nice and very soft. The truth is that in Naples you are likely to see men that look like Borrelli ads and men who look like they are cranky old Scotsmen who only wear heavy tweed. There is a lot of style there and a lot of different styles.
     

  6. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Stylish Dinosaur Dubiously Honored

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    Part of the appeal: It's trendy in the right way. Still has an air of exclusivity about it.

    I think Tutee makes very good points.
     

  7. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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  8. TheFoo

    TheFoo THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    I think Iammatt nailed all the big reasons. I wonder though, whether there is some kind of American psycho-cultural predisposition toward the 'Neapolitan' tailoring.

    When I was at Battistoni in Rome, talking to a very friendly sales associate about shirts, I mentioned that I was visiting Naples to see some tailors. He interrupted me in a mock rant: "Americans always talking about Naples: Kiton, Borrelli, Attolini . . ." He went on to describe the benefits of the Battistoni approach to shirtmaking.

    At any rate, his comment got me thinking that the whole Neapolitan 'thing' may have particular resonance with Americans. I can guess why such might be the case. We like sporty and casual; for better or worse, connotations of lighter, airier Neapolitan clothing comport well with this preference. Furthermore, Americans like the romance of the 'Old World'. The vision of old Italian men making clothes with a needle and thread is a dream we like buying into because it is so different from the efficient, quantity-oriented production typical back home. 'Made in Italy' is a big status symbol here. When fashion designers have come to dominate the popular perception of what that symbol represents, it's refreshing to find a purer, unmolested manifestation. As a whole, we have also moved further and further away from suits--the average American's notion of a suit is that is is restricting, uniform, and conformist. In that context, the Neapolitan suit is, in fact, the anti-suit of sorts.

    Typical American ideals also combine well with what Neapolitan clothes have come to represent. We like liberty, freedom, mobility, etc. A soft, light, natural-shouldered jacket seems to fit well into our idealized lifestyle.

    Who knows? Maybe I'm just reaching for something that's not there.
     

  9. tutee

    tutee Senior Member Dubiously Honored

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    Where you are wrong, I believe, is in your description of a "Neapolitan Shoulder" as an "option".

    maybe I should say the shirt shoulder or an unapadded shoulder specifically. When I say neapolitan shoulder... I am referring in general as to how it is mostly understood in US NOT in Italy. Which is also why I said...

    At the end of the day these two types of shoulders are just options... yes that is it... a mere option (save for true Neapolitans in case of unpadded shoulders).

    I have no doubt in my mind about Rubinacci's advice. It is a respected house... it is the understanding of this concept by people in US (or greatly at these forums actually) that is odd.

    I think you will agree that in US the "Neopolitan Shoulder" or "Neopolitan Style" is never releated to a padded / structured shiloutte even though tailors in Naples do that.
     

  10. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Mafoofan, I think that you have a good point.
    I also think that things are best enjoyed in many different contexts. Going to Naples and having the very un-American experience there adds a different dimension to what you bring home. It is certainly different than going in to Sak's or Borrelli and being lectured about why it is the best and what is the new thing. Not to say that both ways are not, as you said, chasing an ideal lifestyle. They are. One just give a more complete and long lasting impression.

    Similarly with any visual art, enjoying it in different contexts adds to the pleasure. It is different to see a Matisse or a Klee at the National Gallery and enjoy its beauty than it is to see one as you glance over from a dinner table. Everything that is enjoyed with the senses benefits from increased and varied experience. It just adds more layers of understanding and more sensory memory.

    Tuttee, you are right too on both counts.
     

  11. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Stylish Dinosaur Dubiously Honored

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    I think Iammatt nailed all the big reasons. I wonder though, whether there is some kind of American psycho-cultural predisposition toward the 'Neapolitan' tailoring.

    [snip]

    Typical American ideals also combine well with what Neapolitan clothes have come to represent. We like liberty, freedom, mobility, etc. A soft, light, natural-shouldered jacket seems to fit well into our idealized lifestyle.

    Who knows? Maybe I'm just reaching for something that's not there.


    Very interesting points. But I wonder: Aren't we the same Americans who embraced the huge, built-up shoulder pads of the 1980s? The absurd leisure suits of the '70s? Can clothing really tap into the national psyche, except as a reflection of the times? As such, isn't it all just a series of fads?

    Just playing devil's advocate here.
     

  12. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Very interesting points. But I wonder: Aren't we the same Americans who embraced the huge, built-up shoulder pads of the 1980s? The absurd leisure suits of the '70s? Can clothing really tap into the national psyche, except as a reflection of the times? As such, isn't it all just a series of fads?

    Just playing devil's advocate here.


    Well, I think that you make a very good point. On the other hand, it is pretty hard to say that either of these two jackets are not absolutely in excellent, classic taste:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and while not the same, they are certainly of a similar mind.

    There is a difference between these very classic examples and something like these:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    which are charicatures and harken back to much of the bad taste you wrote about.
     

  13. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Stylish Dinosaur Dubiously Honored

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    Well, I think that you make a very good point. On the other hand, it is pretty hard to say that either of these two jackets are not absolutely in excellent, classic taste:

    Even in my devil's advocacy I don't mean to suggest there's no such thing as classic style. I just question whether there's any sort of American psycho-cultural disposition for it. Seems like we started with a pretty good idea, then spent a few decades trying to get back to it.
     

  14. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Even in my devil's advocacy I don't mean to suggest there's no such thing as classic style. I just question whether there's any sort of American psycho-cultural disposition for it. Seems like we started with a pretty good idea, then spent a few decades trying to get back to it.
    No, I didn't think that you were saying that. I was just emphasizing what you and Tuttee said. If you go to Naples, you should hope (IMO) to end up with something very similar to what mafoofan did, and not something like the "Neapolitan style abortion" that is represented in the last picture. What I read from what you said is that we have a lot of trouble making something our own. On an individual basis this is not necessarily true, but as a nation, you are right.
     

  15. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Stylish Dinosaur

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    As a sideline, in theory, I think my body type would be most suited by the "Neapolitan" shoulder in the sense that a more natural shoulder with less padding would in theory be better suited for someone with broad, developed shoulders. In practice though, I'm not entirely sure this is the case, as I'm not sure that shoulder bulk isn't necessarily compatible with structure...
     

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