Italy | A Continuous Lean.

The Brunello Cucinelli Guide to Life and Business.

Apr 27th, 2015 | Categories: Italy | by Michael Williams

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Four years ago I had the privilege of meeting Brunello Cucinelli at his company’s home office in Solomeo. It sounds cliché to say, but it was a day that fundamentally changed how I see the world as a consumer, a businessman and as a human. More philosophical than anyone you will ever meet in the clothing business (possibly in life in general), Brunello is a catalyst for fundamental positive change. It’s just his nature. It sounds contrived when you read some blogger say it, but in reality, Brunello Cucinelli (the man and the company) is one of the most compelling people I have ever met. If character and integrity took the human form it would be Brunello Cucinelli. The fact that he sells some of the finest made and best looking clothing is almost just a happy coincidence.

My pal the esteemed writer Om Malik made the pilgrimage to Solomeo himself to meet Brunello and learn more about the man his billion dollar enterprise operating quietly in Italy’s green heart. His interview is as important and compelling as any I have read. The coversation stands out because of both Om’s beautiful perspective and Brunello’s equally unique world view.

With a nod to the tech world (and John Gruber), below I pulled out my favorite bits and pieces from this great conversation between two men of considerable respect. Here’s the original interview which is a must read.

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A Well Travelled Collection.

Jan 13th, 2015 | Categories: Accessories, Italy, Jake Gallagher, Made in Italy, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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In the year or so since Agyesh Madan left his position as Product Development Manager at Isaia he’s been busy collecting. Not clothing, the predictable pursuit for a man with Agyesh’s pedigree (to his credit Agyesh describes his personal wardrobe as miniscule) but passport stamps. Born into a military family, Agyesh moved constantly as a child, and he’s carried that transient spirit into his adulthood with recent trips to places like China, India, and Italy. It’s the Italian stamp which I imagine takes up the greatest chunk of Agyesh’s passport. While at Isaia, Agyesh’s frequent trips to Italy to meet with factories and fabric suppliers fostered within him a deep appreciation for the tactile side of clothing design. Since leaving the Napoli based brand last year, Agyesh’s infatuation with all forms of manufacturing has manifest itself in Stoffa, the all Italian-made accessories label which he launched late last month.

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Agyesh was friendly with some of the factories that he partnered with for Stoffa from his time at Isaia, but he says that he found many of them by simply driving through the Italian countryside on weekends. These factories are like playgrounds to Agyesh, who despite his formal training (he holds a degree from Parsons) derives the most joy from simply holding a piece of fabric in his hands. He tells me that at Isaia, the actual “design” of a collection took just about a week. The rest of his time was spent in factories, sifting through yarns and studying different production techniques.





Barbisio | The Art of the Felt Fedora

Oct 29th, 2014 | Categories: Accessories, Hats, Italy, Jake Gallagher | by Jake Gallagher

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The hat hath returned.

And no I’m not referring to the dinky trilbies that you can find at your local mall, nor that raggedy baseball cap in the back of your closet, I’m talking about an honest to God, grown man, make-Gay-Talese-proud fedora. At least for some, that is.

Some call it the Mad Men effect, some point to the revival of classic menswear, some simply chalk it up to pure foppishness, but whatever the reason may be, this (slight) chapeau renaissance has turned the spotlight back towards some illustrious accessories labels that have flown under the radar for far too long.





On the Hunt for the Perfect Fall Jacket.

Oct 8th, 2014 | Categories: Italy, Jake Gallagher, Made in Italy, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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The Valstar story could be divided up into two distinct eras: Before-Valstarino and After-Valstarino. B.V. Valstar was a completely different brand, one that had been founded in the late eighteen-hundreds as “English Fashion Waterproof” with a focus upon raincoats. In 1911, this company moved their offices to Milan to become Italy’s first rainwear company, dropping their convoluted name along the way in favor of the more streamlined Valstar moniker. For the next twenty-four years they continued to churn out effective, if not ordinary, trench coats, until the creation of the Valstarino in 1935. With its cropped body, knit collar and unstructured design, the Valstarino was a revolution, not just for Valstar, but for Italian style as a whole.





Boglioli Spring/Summer ’15 – La Dolce Vita.

Jul 8th, 2014 | Categories: Italy, Jake Gallagher, Made in Italy, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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The Boglioli story has always begun with the jacket. Soft shouldered and unstructured, this small wonder of casual tailoring (my favorite pseudo-oxymoron) has defined Boglioli since their inception nearly a century ago. And yet, with their Spring/Summer ’15 collection Boglioli has made it ever more clear that to them the jacket is just the introduction. While some Italian labels have been content to rest on their soft-shouldered laurels, Boglioli is charging full-speed ahead, fueled by admirers that are at once appreciative of the company’s heritage and actively interested in the future of the brand.

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Andrea Pompilio Arrives at Canali

Jul 3rd, 2014 | Categories: Fashion, Italy, Jake Gallagher, Made in Italy, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

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It could be said that Italian menswear is in the midst of a rediscovery period. Classical tailoring and high fashion are no longer the Sharks and Jets of the clothing world, occupying the same territory and yet perpetually in combat. Now, more than ever, it is not enough for a tailoring house to simply make garments, they must also be “designers” in all senses of the word. An Italian tailoring house should cater to their diehard roster of bespoke customers, while also appealing to the whims of those that diligently observe the comings and goings of runway shows throughout Europe. The key to this (as in most things clothing related) is balance – don’t alienate the clients that brought you success all along, but don’t appear complacent.

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The Butcher.

Nov 26th, 2013 | Categories: Food, Italy, Wine | by Michael Williams

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Dario Cecchini is not a butcher, he’s the butcher. He’s unlike anyone I have ever encountered. As part of our whirlwind one-day adventure in Tuscany, Fontodi owner Giovanni Manetti took us for lunch in Panzano at Dario’s place, a lunch on a warm Italian afternoon which ended up being a life changing event. The butcher shop is forever changed after an afternoon with Dario Cecchini.

Dario’s shop is actually three places in one: a butcher shop on the ground floor, a steakhouse upstairs and a casual terrace restaurant out back. The whole place has to be Panzano’s most significant tourist attraction. It’s a destination for hospitality, a dose of Dario’s legendary energy, and of course, a temple for red meat. If ever you find yourself in Chianti, your presence is required at Dario’s table. Trust me, you’ve never seen anything like this before.

Upon arrival Dario —who is probably the world’s most famous butcher thanks in part to his appearance in Bill Buford’s Heat— proceeded to instantaneously grab (read: pick up into his arms) Giovanni like he was a long-lost friend. It looked like they hadn’t seen each other in years, but it had only actually been a few days since they celebrated Giovanni’s 50th birthday together. I know this because they were talking about the massive steaks that Dario butchered and cooked for the party. A second later an iPad mini appeared with Dario holding two of the most massive chunks of beef that I have ever seen.

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