I began my sartorial journey more than ten years ago in ready-to-wear, followed by made-to-measure and then finally bespoke. I ended up visiting dozens of bespoke tailors around the world. Initially, I invested my time and energy in some of the most well-known bespoke tailors in London. Savile Row is the origin of modern men’s tailoring and continues to flourish and remain incredibly relevant after 150 years. I also explored Naples, the second capital of bespoke tailoring with its buzzing cluster of workshops and traditions. Later, my travels took me to the Far East which offers an excellent, increasingly global option for customers. Last but not least, I met a number of very dedicated and talented tailors from Los Angeles to New York and D.C.
For a long time I thought London and Naples were the alpha and omega of bespoke tailoring. That thought held firm until I visited an intriguing Mediterranean island called Sicily.
Of all of my bespoke experiences, I have found Sicily to be most rewarding even though it required the most effort. Sicilian tailors do not travel overseas and rarely speak English. Yet the reward has far exceeded the effort. Put simply, if you enjoy soft tailoring then I am at a loss to think of a more edifying choice in terms of style, fit and experience.
In 2011 I wrote and published the first English language book on Sicilian tailors to connect them to sartorial enthusiasts around the world. If you live near Italy or travel regularly to Europe and speak Italian, then I urge you to personally visit Sicily. If you prepare and plan properly, nothing compares to discovering Sicilian tailoring in person.
For the rest of us outside of Europe, I’ve been pondering the best way to introduce Sicilian tailoring to a larger audience without losing its essential qualities.
I think the way forward requires us to re-imagine bespoke.
Luxury brands tend to position bespoke as natural territory for expanding their exclusive products and services. By design, they package bespoke as a white glove service to convey exclusivity and elegance in a cosseted environment. In contrast, I believe a growing number of individuals view bespoke (and luxury more generally) as a personal and proactive journey of discovery. Reward is directly shaped by your level of commitment. The more you invest, the greater the reward.
Sicilian Reserve is meant to be a bespoke experience for modern explorers. It means discovering the world of bespoke with a more active and open mindset. It means embarking on an adventure in learning, travel, culture and experimentation. It also means finding and choosing the right cloth and entrusting it to the right tailor. For artisans, it offers an invaluable platform to connect to a wider audience.
Exceptional bespoke tailoring may be intrinsically local but the experience of connecting you, a piece of artfully woven cloth and a skilled tailor transcends borders.