Friday, June 5, 2015

Menefreghismo

I struggle to understand this garment. I truly do.

Voxsartoria sent me a suit that he had acquired from the original owner. The coat was made in Naples by a fairly well-known and sought-after tailor, and the trousers were made by an even more well-known trouser maker, also in Naples. It is fairly common practice to farm out work like this.

First, a look at some of the external, cosmetic things. There is so much to the craft of tailoring that is hidden, that it is often said that the few details that are visible must be very carefully executed in order to convey the care (or lack thereof) given to the construction of the rest of the garment. Certain things like pattern matching were once a sign of quality but are now simply expected of even the cheapest ready-to-wear maker. The best tailors will often obsess over the cutting, balancing, matching and boxing of plaids and stripes. Chris Despos occasionally goes to very great lengths to get things to line up and balance, not because he thinks his client will ever notice, but because he is an artist who is concerned about meticulous execution. It is often one of those challenges we give ourselves just to push ourselves and expand our horizons a bit. My patchwork coat was one of those challenges.

I mention all this only to attempt to make the reader understand my intense shock when I am confronted with a garment like this. Whose many outward details were sewn as though by a beginner, or a blind person, or someone attempting to sew with their non-dominant hand. A garment which is easy to dismiss as the work of a charlatan were it not for the fact that some of the less-obvious elements, things which would never be done correctly by a novice, are actually fairly well done. Most of the techniques are very old-school and extremely time-consuming so the outward slap-dash mess is not the result of an attempt to save time. Only effort.

Without effort.

This expression was given as the translation of the Italian word, sprezzatura. It is meant to mean nonchalance, or an unstudied, easy approach to dressing. Carelessness, but in the sense of not having put a whole lot of effort in to one's appearance, but one who just happens to roll out of bed looking well put-together. In this instance, the more literal reading of the world careless would apply. Or menefreghismo, meaning, "I just don't give a shit".

We will come back to this in a subsequent post, having examined the technical aspects of the garment without having given much thought to the somewhat more intangible aspect of how the garment might affect the wearer's state of mind.

So. My first impressions?

A disaster.

This is important and will come back to us later.

Readers will have noticed that though my normal practice is to identify the maker, in this case they will remain nameless so as to avoid the appearance of my having a particular bone to pick with either of them and I certainly don't want to negatively affect their iReputations. This is merely an examination of the work of two of the more notable tailors in a city which many hold to be the best city in the world in which to find a tailor.

The collar. Pattern matching is generally expected here. #FAIL



I have never been a fan of Neapolitan buttonholes. I think they look sloppy and flat and uneven. I can spot a Kiton from ten feet just by the squashed beetles on the front of their coats. These are classic examples. That being said, this is a matter of pure personal preference; they might think that my buttonholes are rigid and lifeless. Or something. So there is nothing necessarily incorrect about these, I just don't like them.







The flap pockets, however, are a disaster. Period. Never mind the need to match the stripes, which any novice knows to do, the pockets are not even cut on grain. The corners are dog-eared, the pocket lips are uneven and messy, there is a gap between the end of the flap and the pocket, and the half-moon tacks at their ends are ridiculous. The technique that was attempted is generally regarded as the correct one, but they failed miserably in the attempt.



Even more lamentable is the interior. The finishing of the lining, though done by hand, and the interior pockets, equally done by hand, are atrocious. I have never seen something so bad, ever.

EVER.

Click on the images for a closer look at the carnage.



Instead of conveying care and attention to detail, the visible details of the coats are unequivocal. Non me ne frega un cazzo, they say.

I think this is a good point at which to pause in the dissection. Critics were just as harsh in their initial appraisals of impressionism and cubism and dadaism: there is perhaps more going on here than just mismatched stripes and ugly pockets. Maybe. We will look next at the guts of the garment, most of which will be lost on anyone who is not an experienced tailor, but which might provide some insight anyway. Then we will hear from the tailor himself, a story translated from his own website which gives even more to think about. And a reminder I often repeat to myself and some of my colleagues.

We're not curing cancer, here. They're just clothes.

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16 comments:

Laura Arhire said...

Is it at all possible that some of this was the result of alterations?

Jeffery Diduch said...

Laura, it might theoretically be possible that the collar was due to alterations, but unlike the trouser which was obviously altered after the fact, there was little to no evidence of it in the coat. The exterior pockets were certainly not the result of alterations, and unless the entire interior had been replaced later (and there is no visible evidence of such an alteration) then the mess inside the coat was original as well.

Cynthia Nicole said...

Could it have been made by a new apprentice? And somehow got past quality control. I'm sure it has an interesting story, whatever it is.

j3nnyclair3 said...

Could you explain Neapolitan buttonholes? I researched quickly on your page, but I would like to learn the differences between buttonholes and the information I found wasn't clean. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I think you should tell for godsake who is the author of this shit. Calling this "work" is an insult to every good tailor's respect.
Naples' work is more or less the same but however would be in the right justice to tell who is the author. Thanks, Rob

Marysia said...

Hi there Jeffery,
As someone who isn't a trained gentleman's tailor, I am so enjoying these recent postings, as I am still getting ready to tackle a coat (jacket).
I have to admit that I am pretty shocked by the work on this. In my young days of being taught to sew at school my teacher would have been horrified if I had turned out sloppy workmanship. Always taught that it should look as good inside out.

I too wondered if the work had been completed by an apprentice?? It is awful.
Oh by the way, I also dislike the buttonholes on parade on this sad coat. The standard I look to achieve is indeed your beauties!!

Anonymous said...

I really don't want to think what would happen to me if I put a pocket on a jacket that looked half as bad as those. My Greek master would always say that you make the garment perfectly so the customer praises you and push to make it better and better so that your fellow tailors don't shame you. Any idea on the initial cost of this "suit"?

voxsartoria said...

The suit was made about ten years ago, give or take. Both the primary tailor (who make the coat) and the trouser maker were at that time small, father and son shops in Naples. Neither visiting other cities at that time, and primarily served local Neapolitan customers or those men willing to travel to Naples.

Today, both shops have travel schedules that in one case are global in reach. Among a certain category of customers, the reputations of both shops are excellent. Both have many happy and enthusiastic customers who are often quite knowledgable in bespeaking custom, bench-made clothes.

I acquired the suit from the original customer. I had no alterations done to it, and what Jeffery now has is as I received it.

The surprising sloppiness of some (most?) of the visible craft is one part of the story, but a more fascinating part (if one is interested in personal style rather than the technical craft of tailoring per se) is something that I hope Jeffery can somehow address. Whatever is wrong with it from the view of a person at the bench does not seem to seriously weaken its effect as a projection of a type of style. I would gladly wear this suit instead of many, many other suits constructing with more technical adequacy or even aplomb. I was not made for me, however, so it does not fit well. Thus, to the chopping block...which was my original intent in acquiring it: to see it and take it apart. Fortunately, I waited long enough for Jeffery to come onto the scene with his forensic projects and here we are.

I look forward to the rest of Jeffery's analysis. They are always fun reads.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great post.
I thought the interior of this Rubinacci looked very sloppy:
http://www.permanentstyle.co.uk/2011/08/rubinacci-cashmere-jacket-6-finished-article.html
But the jacket in this post is even sloppier. What bothers me is that they took the time and effort to pick-stitch the seems but not to get the basics correct. I've seen jackets from very famous makers with perfectly sewn handmade buttonholes but with horribly set sleeves. I think that time and effort should be invested where it creates real value for the customer. We see too little of this.
I think the problem with bespoke tailors is that they are obsessed with how a suit is made (hand-made please!) instead of the result. Some of these bespoke houses are also quite good at fooling their customers into thinking the same e.g. Anderson and Sheppard (the hand-sewn armhole seem is "better"). We've seen a rather sloppy suit from them here:
http://tuttofattoamano.blogspot.se/search/label/Anderson%20and%20Sheppard
The hand-sewn armhole was not such a good idea after all...
Thank you Jeffrey for setting the record straight.
Kind regards,
Anders.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem with the buttonholes may be that they are not properly backed. I even glue the edges before I before I sew the buttonholes to get a firm foundation for the stitches. Since there is no risk of fraying because of the glue, I can make stitches much shorter... (And the buttonhole will be easier to repair.)
Sorry, me gain.

Anders.

Anonymous said...

Jacket from Solito, Trousers by Ambrosi.
Voxsartoria posted a photo of the suit some time ago.

Carmelo Pugliatti said...

I think that the explanation is this:

The customer was a wealthy man without any idea about bespoke,cut,finiture.

He was in Naples and wanted a bespoke suit from this firm because he knew that bespoke suit are prestigious.

The tailor have understood that this customer was interested only to the label.

Now is a thing to know about Neapolitan tailors: they deep despise the customer ignorant.

A typical thing that the famous Neapolitan tailor said is "i want the customer to my level,exigent (you can hear this also in the dvd o' mast).

So in front a this sartorial simpleton the tailor not give the best ("in every case is content").

The poor guy were not even able to understand the defects of his suit.



This is,in my opinion how the events took place.

I know,i know,is not honest,is not polite,is not proper...but they do so.

Anonymous said...

I do not think it is anything personal towards the customer.
Solito simply offers a different kind of product:
-> Good fit, good cut.
-> Completely hand made
-> Poor attention to the finnish.
And you get this at a price 3 times lower than London, Paris, or Rubinacci.
It is simply a different product. I prefer 3 hand made Solito suits than 1 Smalto suit with machine padded lapels.
Yes, the finnish will be bad, but the 3 suits will have a very good fit and nice rolling lapels. And one will still be better dressed than 99% of the people on the streets.

Matajuro said...

Dear Jeffery Diduch,
the pictures show a medium-low quality (however handmade) work without any doubt, but if we don't know the price, we cannot really criticize it: I mean, if the entire suit costed less than 1000 Euro, it wasn't so bad (if you like and hardly want something handmade); from 1000 to 1800 Euro, I'd probably look for another tailor next time; more than 1800 Euro, the tailor conned you, "ti ha fregato".

Jeffrey Fedenko said...

Do you ever submit the final analysis of this particular suit?

jojoremeny said...

I'm a fashion designer /tailor. I have been fortunate to have been learning tailoring from 3maater tailors, my current teacher is an 87 year old master tailor who won cutter and tailor award In London in 1956 for a suit he made by hand.
If I made even a pocket like this I would have received instant dismissal from these amazing old school tailors.
It's totally unacceptable. It seems it's all done in haste without any love.
As Jeffrey pointed out its rudimentary that even apprentices would know about grain and matching stripes etc..
It's an atrocity and the worst jacket and workmanship I have witnessed.
I don't think this has been made by any reputable tailor, I can only assume the customer wanted the suit urgently and it was outsourced to a seamstress with limited tailoring skills. The linings are pulling as well from the tightness of the handstitching... It truly is bad workmanship.

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