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lean bespoke • mediterranean spirit

 
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Sicilian Reserve is about re-imagining bespoke tailoring.

It starts with respecting local craftsmanship and traditions on an island with a kaleidoscopic 3,000+ year old history. 

Equally vital, it's about delivering the minimal, essential features of the bespoke experience

and liberating the customer from all other distractions.

For us, bespoke means just you + cloth + tailor. 

 
 

OUR PREMISE

You + tailor + cloth. This is the essence of bespoke - a one-to-one-to-one correspondence of those key elements. You initiate the interest and desire for a bespoke garment. A highly skilled tailor creates a unique pattern and finished garment based on your figure and measurements. The cloth provides the critical, essential material for the tailor to realize the commission. 

This project is about unbundling and delivering the minimal, essential components of bespoke. It means reclaiming the critical role you play in this unique adventure. We enable you to experience bespoke without the rigidities of traditional bespoke and the inherent limitations of made-to-measure programs (MTM).

Like many of you, I have gone through a sartorial journey by cycling through RTW menswear brands, MTM programs at established and newer brands and bespoke tailors around the world. 

For those in the know, bespoke is the peak menswear experience. But traditional bespoke has long been limited to the few who could afford it. What if you could enjoy the virtues of bespoke in a much more personal, active and accessible way? 

YOU (ME)

In 2011, I researched and wrote Sleevehead’s Guide to Sicilian Tailors, the first English language book on Sicilian bespoke tailors. In my opinion, they rank among the most remarkable tailors in the world. The skeptic will say that the bespoke landscape has already been mapped out - London occupies one axis for classic structured jackets, Naples for unstructured jackets. There is nothing new under the bespoke sun. Or is there?

In my view, something new has emerged. Perhaps more accurately, what is new is the emergence of something that has been hidden away for years. For me, Sicily is the last undiscovered enclave of bespoke tailoring in the Western Hemisphere.

Let me go even further. If you like soft tailoring (i.e. soft, natural shoulder and construction), I believe Sicily makes a robust case for offering a truly unique value. Nowhere else can you find a hand-cut and hand-made bespoke garment accessibly priced and on par with the craftsmanship of top tier bespoke. 

True bespoke for the price of RTW or MTM. Is that even possible? Yes, such a thing exists but the real question is for how long. The picture I am painting has already begun to change due to a wave of retiring tailors. 

But for the time being, nowhere else can you find soft tailoring done so simply, skillfully and with incredible humility. Bespoke practiced as a matter of everyday living, hidden away and mostly undiscovered. This is a quieter luxury with craft and relationships rooted in a specific place. If you don’t know the place, you will likely never know its tailoring tradition. 

This is the principal reason very few people are familiar with Sicilian tailoring. These tailors truly embody the idea of local authenticity. They make clothes largely for other Sicilians; they rarely travel outside of Italy or even Sicily; and their workshops produce limited quantities of suits, jackets and trousers year after year. They are tailors who know only one thing - practicing their craft in their hometown. 

Bespoke tailoring used to be produced and consumed locally. Local tailors and their workshops served specific neighborhoods and produced in small, artisanal quantities. But this self-contained model of bespoke has largely disappeared and what remains is increasingly at risk from both declining supply and demand locally.

With your help, we can extend the rich bespoke traditions and expertise of these remaining Sicilian artisans to benefit both their communities and a larger audience outside of Sicily. The intent is not to ramp up rapidly but sensibly calibrate demand with available supply. To make the idea work, this venture needs individuals already experienced with bespoke (or nimble-footed and truly committed enough to learn quickly), adept with textiles, and comfortable exploring a different tailoring tradition. 

TAILOR

Based on my extensive travels and research, I have decided to collaborate with a highly skilled tailor and his small workshop on the Ionian Coast in eastern Sicily. This tailor is not profiled in my guidebook but he easily belongs to the same class of remarkable artisans featured therein. Like a few others, he can produce a first jacket (or suit) for a new client based on just one fitting. 

But he is also truly one of a kind in other respects. Above all, he is a highly experienced practitioner of his craft and has worked in the trade for decades. He has won national awards in competition with other leading tailors across Italy. Unlike most tailors, he is fluent in several different cutting systems (including one dating back to 1928) and has learned over the years to apply the optimal system and techniques depending on the specific application. 

His workshop is capable of creating soft Neapolitan-style tailoring and more classic, structured garments for both men and women. In a good sign for the future, his workshop includes a younger generation learning, cutting and designing for clients. Unlike many of his compatriots, this tailor has the desire and capacity to continue the business after he retires. 

Even so, his workshop has extremely limited production - about 100 suits per year. But he has agreed to reserve a portion of his limited bespoke production to clients outside of Italy for the very first time. By definition and circumstance, this collaboration is intrinsically special, limited and unique, as will be your participation. 

What we create for you flows from this philosophy. We combine your creative input in the selection and sourcing of the cloth with highly localized craftsmanship. Perhaps paradoxically, the result is a new way of experiencing bespoke that is both rarer and more accessible at the same time. 

CLOTH

How does the Sicilian Reserve approach to bespoke work? First, you will take the initiative to provide your own cloth. This is an essential part of the "lean bespoke" concept. Personally sourcing high quality vintage or overstock cloth is the preferred path for the sartorial enthusiast. There is perhaps nothing more satisfying than finding the right cloth fit for your purpose and design. Often this cloth is no longer in production or widely available. Moreover, buying cloth from a previous year’s production minimizes waste and avoids the additional overhead cost of buying in-season cloth.

Assuming basic knowledge of jacketing and suiting cloths, you will be able to source top-notch, high quality cloth in distinctive weaves, weights and finishes. If you live in or near a major metropolitan area, you have access to quality fabric merchants like Tip Top in New York City and Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. Alternatively, you can order online from reputable English and Italian textile mills such as Huddersfield Fine WorstedsFox Flannel or Yorkshire Fabric and merchants and sellers like British Fabrics on eBay. 

In addition, I will assist and provide guidance on fabric choices as needed to ensure a quality bespoke commission. 

How We Work

Our lean bespoke model means just two “drops” (or releases) per year - every June and December. Batching orders together helps us maintain exceptional bespoke pricing. Throughout the year you focus on researching, selecting and reserving your best cloth with Sicilian Reserve. We then reserve a spot for you on our tailor’s limited production schedule to realize your commission. The finished commissions are shipped to you in June and December.

For new customers, your first drop requires two face-to-face meetings. The first meeting involves taking your measurements and dropping off your cloth in NYC (or periodically the Bay Area - see our schedule below). After you place your order online, we will schedule this initial consultation which takes place before the cutoff date for the upcoming drop. The second meeting is when our tailor conducts your forward fitting in the US (either NYC or the Bay Area). 

For returning customers, you can participate in the spring/summer or fall/winter drops by placing an order online and sending us your cloth before the cutoff dates in March and September each year (about 3 months before each drop). 

If you prefer a more traditional bespoke experience, we are happy to include cloth as part of the offering. Please check out our Essential Bespoke line

I am truly excited to introduce Sicilian tailoring to the wider world. Sicilian Reserve is intended to provide a platform to connect Sicilian artisans to a broader audience in a measured, respectful way. Great bespoke tailoring may be intrinsically local but the experience inherently transcends borders. 

Cloth Vault - autumn 2017 Reserve

Even if you find the concept of unbundled bespoke appealing, you might be very time-pressed or do not have easy access to quality cloth. If so, we are able to offer classic cloths year round and small quantities of limited edition cloth available for purchase along with your bespoke jacket or trouser order. After we confirm the proper amount of cloth and its availability, we secure the cloth from our partner and take care of it from that point forward.  

Discover and learn more about Sicilian tailoring

Sleevehead's Guide to Sicilian Tailors: A Survey of Sicilian Tailors and Contemporary Tailoring Strategies (2nd edition, 2017)

Sleevehead's Guide to Sicilian Tailors: A Survey of Sicilian Tailors and Contemporary Tailoring Strategies (2nd edition, 2017)

$25.00

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"Very impressive, well written and balanced advice. All in all, this is the definitive guide to the subject, all the information any man will need." - Bruce Boyer
"An extremely serious and thorough guide, the first of its kind to report on bespoke Sicilian tailors, offering not only well-documented descriptions of each house, but also all you need to know to plan your trip." - Hugo Jacomet, Parisian Gentleman
"Extremely valuable...well written, informative... In my opinion it is an absolute must for anybody who contemplates having bespoke garments made in Italy." - Gentleman's Gazette

Published originally in 2011, #SGST is the first and only comprehensive guide exploring the largely undiscovered world of Sicilian bespoke tailoring. The new 2017 expanded edition contains twice the content of the first edition. It remains the definitive reference on Sicilian tailoring whose signature is a softly structured jacket and whose heritage rivals Savile Row and Naples.

The author covers an expanded list of more than 20 tailors across Sicily including the four largest cities (Palermo, Catania, Messina and Syracuse) and two smaller towns (Ragusa and Modica) as well as other artisanal makers of shirts, ties and accessories.

Logistical and travel details have also been updated to plan your own sartorial trip.

New to the second edition is a useful framework comparing Sicilian tailoring to other modern tailoring strategies, showing how it differs from Savile Row and Naples and why this Mediterranean sensibility deserves to be known as the third major school of Western tailoring. 

Contents

  • 108 pages
  • 140+ photos
  • 3 videos (web access)

This e-book version is delivered in Adobe PDF format suitable for viewing on any PC, tablet or smartphone. 

The paperback and hardcover versions are available now.

Meet us

available for Initial consultations (Los Angeles)

  • When: December 2-3, 2017
  • Where: Westside / West LA
  • How: We are now scheduling appointments to take measurements and receive your cloth for June 2018 delivery. Fittings will take place in San Francisco or New York City. 
  • Email us below to schedule an appointment at your home or office

Available for Initial consultations (New York city tri-state area)

  • We are now scheduling appointments through mid-March 2018 to take measurements and receive your cloth for June 2018 delivery. 
  • Email us below to schedule an appointment at your home or office (within a 60 minute travel radius of NYC) or our client meeting spaces near Union Square and Madison Square Park in Manhattan
  • Appointment times from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 8pm and Sunday by appointment

Spring 2018 (downtown San Francisco) - TEntative

  • Initial consultations for measurements/cloth from: TBD
  • Forward fitting and measurement appointments on TBD from 10am-4pm or earlier/later by request
  • Email us below to schedule an appointment

Spring 2018 (NYC - greenwich village) - tentative

  • Fitting and measurement appointments: 
    • Saturday, TBD from 10am to 5pm or earlier/later by request
    • Sunday, TBD from 10am to 1pm
  • Email us below to schedule an appointment