Why is Sicily the "black swan" of bespoke tailoring?

Black swans are the rare exceptions to the norm and defy conventional wisdom.

So why do I consider Sicily the “black swan” of bespoke tailoring, the last secret left for sartorialists?

To learn why, watch my new video below:

Learn why Sicily is the last secret in bespoke tailoring and why it deserves to be recognized along with the more well-known sartorial destinations of Naples and Savile Row. Also discover the two best ways to experience Sicilian tailoring by traveling to Sicily armed with Sleevehead's Guide to Sicilian Tailors or working with Sicilian Reserve, a bespoke platform for Sicilian tailors to meet US and European clients.

#SGST has landed

In our digital age, we are fed a constant diet of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WeChat updates by friends, colleagues and digital influencers with millions of followers.

People share anything and everything online. These days very little in terms of fashion and style is truly new or a secret. Women decide on the next handbag or #ootd by swiping on Instagram. Likewise, men get inspired by what other guys are wearing by browsing #wiwt. Most of this is "free" and easy. Everything is see, click or buy.

Against that backdrop, writing a full-length book could be construed as either retro or out of step with the times.

I chose to write a book on Sicilian tailoring. Why? Because only a long-form narrative can do justice to the topic. My view is this: the deeper the secret, the more that needs to be told. 

Sleevehead's Guide to Sicilian Tailors is the first and only guide to unlocking the last secret left in men's bespoke tailoring. That’s quite a statement but I truly believe it. 

This is a sartorial story that cannot be told in a single tweet or Instagram, or even a hundred of them. Sicilian tailors have a tremendous story but no one has been willing to tell it. I remember thinking how shocked I was that tailors so skilled could be so unknown. So I decided to tell their story.

Sicilian tailors offer tremendous value (thanks to their relative obscurity) and possess their own unique approach which I instinctively saw and have elucidated more crisply in the new edition of #SGST. 

After more than six years of traveling, researching and personally commissioning bespoke clothes in Sicily, I sum up what I know and love most about Sicilian tailors and their Mediterranean stance to cutting and making superbly tailored clothes.

If you are truly serious about bespoke tailoring and masculine style, this is a secret you cannot miss out on.


Preparing your commission - how flexible is our tailor?

For those who are new to Sicilian tailors or bespoke tailoring, you may be wondering how flexible our tailor is and the kinds of features you can specify for your bespoke commission. That's a great question.

The tailor we’re working with can make clothes for a variety of body types and can accommodate a wide range of style choices. His clients run the gamut from children to adults. He has dressed men and women from across a variety of professions from business and academia to opera and the arts. 

In terms of shape and silhouette, he has done quite a bit of stage/theatrical costume work so if you want retro, eccentric and unusual he can do so without batting an eye. Even more so if you want classic and conservative style.

You might have experienced or read that many tailors have a preferred house style that they are reluctant to deviate from. A house style might typically have a fixed jacket length for a specific height, open or closed fronts, a specific amount of waist suppression, a high or low button stance, a high or low gorge height and a specific lapel width.

If you’re unsure, our tailor will certainly make suggestions for your commission. But you are not constrained by them, especially if you have a clear idea of your commission or are experienced with bespoke. When I was looking for the right tailor to work with, flexibility was one of my top criteria and it's a key reason why I chose this tailor. 

I came to this conclusion after spending hours talking to him and his coworkers in his workshop and viewing multiple examples of his finished work and those in progress. Based on what I saw, the tailor is fully capable of executing your choices technically and attitudinally.

For example, I went with a shorter length on the sample jacket than I normally wear even though the tailor suggested a slightly longer one. I also wanted fairly open jacket fronts. For the sample pants, I let him make his default style which tends to be slim and lower rise.

In addition, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with a local client during one of his fittings. This particular client had very specific and unconventional requirements for his evening velvet jacket. Moreover, he was challenging to fit properly because of his forward abdomen and swayback. But based on what I heard from the client, the tailor accommodated both client preferences and fit without any issues technically and attitudinally.


In sum, you will have flexibility, if you choose to exercise it, in a number of areas. 

For jackets these include (but are not limited to):

  • Shoulder type (manica camicia or classic shoulder)
  • Length of jacket
  • Lapel type
  • Gorge height
  • Button stance
  • Pocket type (patch, flap or welted)
  • Number of internal pockets
  • Number of sleeve buttons
  • Vents

For pants these include (but are not limited to):

  • Normal or higher waist
  • Ease around seat
  • Pocket types and positioning (e.g. slant side pockets, one back pocket on the right)
  • Belted waistband v. side adjusters
  • Zipper v. buttoned fly
  • Pleated or plain front
  • Hidden coin pocket (left or right)
  • Preferred leg opening width

On the uniqueness of Sicilian tailoring

In my view, Sicilian tailoring constitutes a third school of bespoke tailoring distinct from the two other well-known options - Savile Row and Naples. In a nutshell, Savile Row embodies sobriety and discretion in a jacket while Naples embodies exuberance (i.e. less structure). As a matter of attitude, Sicilian tailoring is more reserved than Naples but “smiles” a bit more than London. The result is a subtly different shape and silhouette of the Sicilian jacket and pants compared to their more familiar counterparts.

What accounts for these subtle nuances? Every single Sicilian tailor I have met is rooted in a specific place. Place grounds and integrates the tailor and his workshop. Place becomes inseparable from craft. This convergence of place and craft also helps paints a clear picture of what you’re wearing and why. 

I think this authenticity is appealing to a certain type of person. 

Because they are very localized and less known, Sicilian tailors also create a rarer product than London and Naples in terms of production output. The difference is an order of magnitude or more - hundreds as opposed to tens of thousands of suits per year. 

Sicilian Reserve is trying to do something truly different from the bespoke norm. We are trying to offer affordability, preserve rarity and ensure continuity as long as it remains possible.