Ciao amici miei!
The Michelsberg Italian Uber level has landed and here I am on a passeggiata outside Michelsberg HQ.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, it’s the real deal, top of the tailoring tree. Suit porn for a sartorial connoisseur, absolutely everything hand-made, a work of art.
The moment I slipped the jacket on, my back shivered.
Excitement, adrenalin, I’m not exactly sure what caused those tingles of joy, but it felt like nothing I have experienced before. The soft canvas, so light and yet still palpable, caressed my torso like the embrace of an angel.
The attention to detail was mind-blowing. The Michelsberg label, cross-stitched using matching thread, beautiful hand-made buttonholes and check out that wonderful stitching between the gorge and collar (which I’ve always admired on Tom Ford suits).
With a retail price of two and a half grand, it’s expensive.
With our British Bespoke line starting from £800 for a two piece, it’s going to be a jump too far for many of my customers, but it’s a serious addition to the Michelsberg armoury and one hell of a weapon I can’t wait to start deploying.
Whilst I believe there will always be a market for British formal suiting, built to last with a sharp, chiselled silhouette, there is no escaping the trend towards more informal ‘de-constructed’ tailoring.
Armani ‘ripped the stuffing’ out of Savile Row in the 70’s / 80’s. “Gone were the shoulder pads, the tight armholes, the straight trousers. Armani’s suits draped, they flowed, they allowed wearers to exhale. This was the path forward.” (Lauren Goldstein Milan)
Judging by the recent collections at Pitti Uomo, the wheel has turned again. Whilst I have serious doubts that the ‘Miami Vice’ suits of my youth will return with gusto, I very much want to offer that softer, Italian style at a more affordable price-point than the new Uber.
Working with the Italians has opened my eyes to a new philosophy of suit making. Whilst I am still totally committed to producing wonderful British suits, I am taking our soft-tailoring offer a step further, with the introduction of our NEW MADE TO MEASURE OFFERING!
Over the past ten years, I’ve visited and had trial garments made with at least a dozen made-to-measure operators, with workshops in Italy, Romania, Egypt, Germany, Czech Republic, Portugal, Mauritius, China and India; the results have been variable.
At Michelsberg Tailoring, service is everything.
Finding suppliers with that same ethos and level of commitment to delighting the customer is difficult.
It’s all very well when things are going right, but what is more important is how people respond when something goes wrong. It is then that a coat-maker, or cloth supplier, can be worth their weight in gold.
Honesty, enthusiasm and passion for our trade are what we are about, but we are only as good as the people behind us and our garments have to stand up for themselves.
At long last, we have found the right people to work with. Their sales director flew in to meet us here in our Leeds showroom, and how refreshing to see such genuine pride in their product and company.
Charlie and I were measured-up, and four weeks later we flew out to their studio to collect our suits and meet the team.
Here’s Charlie in his new threads, made up in a soft wool cashmere cloth by Loro Piana.
The key difference of the Italian style, compared with our British Bespoke suits, is the super light canvas and unstructured shoulder, which means there is no padding.
One of my favourite Neapolitan Tailors is Rubinacci, pictured below. He seems very humble and most importantly for me, his style is very distinctive. He does his own thing, rather than follow the crowd, and I adore his use of colourful fabrics.
His garments bear all the hallmarks of a Neapolitan suit, key of which is an unstructured shoulder.
As well as a shorter jacket length, cut away fronts, minimal skirt, ‘kissing buttons’ on the cuffs and wider lapels, the sleeves are much wider than the armhole.
This means that when they are sewn into place, it creates a pleat, ‘pucker,’ or, fold, and produces a style known as “Spalla Camicia”, or, shirt shoulder, as shown below on these jackets in our agents showroom.
Whilst I do love the idea of a softer, more rounded shoulder (like Charlie’s) for a more informal blazer, or suit, I’m not really a fan of spalla camicia and feel it looks rather feminine. That said, if a customer wants it, we can now provide it
We can also offer a more “roped shoulder,” whereby the sleeve head sits proudly above the shoulder line. This can be seem in my made-to-measure suit pictured below, made up in a soft flannel from Carlo Barbera.
Another key design features associated with the Italian style is the “Barchetta” breast pocket, which means “little boat.” I adore the way it accentuates the swell of the chest and is going to be a permanent feature on all our Italian Uber & Made-to-measure garments. Gorgeous!
You can also see the double-hand stitching which many people find charming.
Personally, I think it looks rather fussy. On many Italian suits, there is further stitching down the centre back seam, sleeves and trousers, which again, I think is over-kill.
Finally, Charlie’s and my made-to-measure jackets are unlined, which means they will be cooler to wear in the summer. Vital if you live in Naples. Less so in Leeds, but we live in hope..
We will be showcasing some of these garments at the Michelsberg Customer Christmas Party, on Thursday 3rd December from 6pm. The Tingley brass band will be playing carols, and if you are a customer, you should have received an email with all the details. If you haven’t, drop us a line!
On a final note I’d like to say this:
I’ve built my business on British Bespoke. I will always love and champion the English style. At Michelsberg Tailoring, it is here (god willing) to stay. Heavier cloth, canvas, wadding, means the garments are more durable, keep their shape better, and can take a bit of a hammering.
With our British Bespoke and Italian Uber levels, we provide a proper fitting, which will always help when dealing with a more challenging figure. Whilst great results can be achieved using a made-to-measure system, some figures (or style choices) are too extreme and can only be dealt with on a bespoke basis.
Whilst some of our customers adore our British Bespoke offering, they complain about the number of meetings required (3 to 4) and the time it takes to make a suit (2 to 3 months).
Personally, I think the good things in life are waiting for, but with a 4 week turnaround on our made-to-measure, this is going to help those customers who need new threads in a rush. Let’s face it, many blokes leave things to the last minute.
When push comes to shove, it’s something new. Something different. Something I adore. New suppliers, new fabrics and further style choices for you, the customer.
Here’s looking forward to raising a glass of mulled wine with you at the Christmas Party!