Piombo, the colorful Milanese menswear label is finally landing on U.S. shores with its debut this week at Barneys New York. Situated in some very prime real estate on the first floor of the Madison Avenue flagship, the Italian label has long been a insider favorite of menswear editors like Esquire’s Nick Sullivan (who introduced me to Piombo originally).
But why did it take so long to get this stuff to New York? “Mark Lee (Barneys CEO) wears Piombo and he approached us to come to Barneys and New York. It is the perfect partner for us,” said Massimo Piombo this morning as we surveyed the clothing and the newly installed (and stunning) window display on 60th Street.
My whole life my father has done his best to drill certain lessons into me, to pass along some of his hard won knowledge to make my journey wiser and easier than his. As I started building a business he was always tell me to “focus on what you know,” a lesson that has served me well over the years. It is also a concept I subscribe to in general. To do what you do best. This concept is also something in practice at a company I have become very interested in, Slowear.
With all of my trips to Italy this year I fell in love with the set-up and execution of Slowear. To better understand the concept I pulled some info from the company website:
We believe that the only way to do something well is to have the right expertise. That’s why the four brands that make up the group – Incotex, Zanone, Glanshirt and Montedoro – are all founded on the principle of specialization.
The post on the Isaia factory in Casalnuovo was extensive in terms of photos, partially because there was much to absorb at the storied Neapolitan tailor, but also because the process is so involved. Making a suit jacket is an intricate endeavor that requires not only great skill, but also equal amounts of finesse. It is a wonderful time-honored process and something magical to witness in person. So to help convey the complexity, I wanted to give you as many perspectives as possible.
One thing that really struck me at Isaia was all of the work that is done by hand, the relative ease at which the processes are performed and the general skillfulness that the workers exude. Even though I shared photos of the factory in general, I thought it would be interesting to drill down a bit into the work done by hand — one of the things that separates Isaia from other makers — and also into the little details that make these suits truly unique.
The third installment from the ACL Made in Italy tour focuses its sights on the Neopolitan tailor Isaia. Located on the outskirts of Napoli — in a small town called Casalnuovo, a place that has been the home of tailors for generations — in a factory where nearly everyone that works in production is a second or third generation tailor. Isaia itself is a family-run business; founded in 1957 by Enrico Isaia, the clothing maker is now helmed by Enrico’s grandson Gianluca Isaia, and has various other family members involved in its day-to-day operations.
The factory is an expansive two story building that is tucked away in an unmarked alley with a large gate. If I were to find the place without the assistance of Isaia’s driver, I’d venture to say it would have been impossible. More than that, if I had to drive myself through the traffic in Napoli, I don’t know if I would be alive to report about the wonderful tailoring I witnessed. But all of that just adds to the allure of Napoli and of course, the Neapolitans. I find Southern Italians to be charming and friendly with a good sense of humor. I find Napoli to be intense, exciting and renegade. Definitely unlike any other place in Italy that I have been.
The Brunello Cucinelli area at Pitti Uomo was consistently crowded, and for good reason. As I said in my GQ Pitti Diary. “The layering is just so well executed. Just being in the Cucinelli stand makes you have better taste via menswear osmosis.” And it’s not just the styling, Cucinelli (like many of the Italians) is very good at the pairing of color and texture. It goes without saying that the fabric is also extremely well done and the fit is slim but not insane. That all said, how could these guys not make amazing collections when they go to work here everyday.
While there were quite a few Japanese buyers at Pitti Uomo, there weren’t many labels selling their own wares. One notable exception was Nanamica, who had its second collection of private label goods on offer to buyers. The line was not one to miss — it was full of amazing fabrics, great detailing and the always fun “classics with a twist” that we have all grown to love from the Japanese.
If you aren’t familiar with the company, Nanmica is a distributor in Japan (The North Face Purple Label, Filson, etc.) and also has several of its own stores which sell the labels it distributes plus outside collections from all sorts of good designers. To me, Nanmica is one of the best shops in Japan. I always make a point to stop in and often end up leaving with a something that You can’t find in The States. The good news is, that won’t be the case with the private label collection pictured here.