Last night I had a dream about hand made shirting. I’m not kidding, I remember I could see the beautifully imperfect shoulder stitches vividly. This is probably the strangest confession I have ever made here. You know when you are dreaming about shirts, you might have some issues. Instead of seeking help, I think I need to go buy a bunch of Salvatore Piccolo shirts. Honestly, that’s just a dream too, because these shirts ain’t cheap. And the way I blow through wovens, I don’t know if that is the best use of my money. All that aside, if I were still dreaming I would buy one of each, because I don’t seem to encounter nicer shirts very often.
In addition to making hand made custom shirts for some very serious clients in Europe, the U.S. and Japan (fortune 500 CEO types mostly), Salvatore Piccolo also produces a small collection of off the rack shirts and ties in his factory in Napoli. Every detail on the shirts are done by hand, often the shirts are made from exclusive Italian fabrics that the mills produce just for him. I learned recently in a conversation with Tom Kalenderian, the general merchandise manager executive vice president of mens at Barneys New York, that many of the prestigious Italian fabric makers will go the extra mile and bend their rules concerning minimums for Salvatore Piccolo. According to Kalenderian. “The mills love working with Salvatore because he has such good taste and his collections are so well done.”
Looking at the Piccolo shirts at Pitti Uomo (and again at Bread & Butter in Berlin where I snapped these photos) it makes sense why the mills want to work with this guy and why all of those powerful business types want him to make their custom shirts.
During my recent visit to the Hamilton shirt factory one great part about being on the company’s home turf was all of the historic material in their showroom. If you were going to create a fake old company you would probably try to dream up a heritage like Hamilton’s. Take for instance the above photo of Gene Autry leading the 1942 parade for the Houston Rodeo with Hamilton’s sign and shop in the background. For me, it really doesn’t get much better than that. History is something I am inherently interested in and it is also something that drives the content here on ACL. So when a company is still making an original product today, something that has a distinct connection to the past, it is a home run. Well, it isn’t always a home run, but it certainly is in the case of Hamilton. One look at the photo of R.H. Hancock (pictured at the end of this post) and I was sold. Speaking with David and Kelly Hamilton about the company’s history and some of their more memorable customers was worth the trip to Houston alone, the shirts and the factory was icing on the cake.
The first factory tour I posted on ACL was Rocco Ciccarelli’s suit factory in Queens. Previous to that, my friend took me to a tie factory in Manhattan but that predates ACL and it was never posted. Watching the ties being made was my first foray into the spectator sport of apparel manufacturing. This week — with a trip to the Hamilton Shirts factory in Houston — I finally completed the trifecta of menswear staples: suits, shirts and ties.