A New Bespoke Project, Part 1: Nino’s bespoke tailoring
It’s appropriate that the first post on the new website should be about a new bespoke suit project from a new bespoke tailor.
I say new, but I’ve covered Nino Santoro and his wonderful shirts numerous times. However, to date we’ve never touched on his father Franco. Bespoke tailoring is actually the heart of the business and Franco Santoro an extremely accomplished bespoke cutter and jacket maker who has made suits for the likes of John Malkovich and former boxing champion David Haye, to name but two. Over a career spanning many decades Franco has made jackets and suits as an outworker for some of the most prestigious names on Savile Row as well as through his son’s shop.
With a starting point of £800 this is at the top end of my budget, but for that you’re getting the full bespoke service, from pattern cutting to just about any detail or element of design you can conceive. Nino tells me his dad has the fastest fingers in the business, proof of which is in the fact Franco can make you a suit from first consultation to finished product in 3-5 days.
Aside from this being a review long overdue, my reasons for choosing Franco Santoro is that I’m hoping to create a rather unique suit. Leaving aside the fact it’s a very reasonably priced bespoke experience, the other reason for choosing Franco Santoro is that with all other London tailors I’d get a very English suit. But if I wanted something distinctly Italian in construction -lighter wadding and softly tailored- or something really uniquely Italian, like a spalla camicia shoulder, something only a handful of people can do, I’d have to go to Italy.
Of course with his experience Franco can, if that’s what you choose, make a typically British suit. But what I’m hoping to achieve is a suit that feels English but which stands out by virtue of some uniquely un-British styling and wears like an Italian suit.
So, what do I have in mind? Well if you look on Bulldog and Wasp’s Tumblr, here, you see where I’m heading. But key features will be:
- A spalla camicia shoulder
- A removable Italian storm front
- 1 x pair of Italian styled flat front and 1 x pair English pleated trousers (forward facing pleats)
- Soft Italian tailoring
I have been talking about this project for a while. But before consulting the great man himself to discuss this rather unusual tailoring project, Nino and I met to choose the cloth.
To begin your consultation you’ll be led below stairs into a cool comfortable room that sits beneath the shop. Taking you away from the busy dusty noisy street above you can quietly and serenely pore over cloth books from the likes of Loro Piana and Zegna, Holland & Sherry, Scabal, John G Hardy, Taylor and Lodge, H Lesser, Harrisons of Edinburgh and a variety of others. Essentially, you’d be spoilt for choice. But should you need your suit in a hurry, and you want to put that 3-5 days bespoke service to the test, well, Nino carries an enviable range of handpicked cloth rolls on site from some of Britain’s and Italy’s finest mills.
It’s easy to feel like a kid in a candy store with so many options available, and Nino will lead you expertly through the cloth books and rolls depending on what you have in mind. However, I find at this stage it’s a good idea to be fairly clear of what you want and stick to your guns, if you’re not to lead yourself in an unexpected direction.
With that in mind, I was clear that I wanted a grey ground Donegal tweed. I don’t like plain grey suits, being pale skinned they can make me look washed out, especially as my hair is greying. Donegal, with its unique woven pattern of light, dark and sometimes coloured yarns breaks that up and that can be just enough to add both interest and stop me looking too pale and like a blank pale canvass, that’s the theory anyways.
I was also looking for a weight of about 13oz which isn’t the heaviest weight that tweeds come in, but it’s enough to make it warm for winter and just light enough for about 8 months of the year (an English year). While I had in mind a pure Irish classic grey ground Donegal I happened across the cloth above in one of Nino’s Caccioppoli books. This is where the myriad of choices and options Nino offers does come in handy. This Donegal style (true Donegal comes from Donegal) is has much more blue in the ground and has yarns of rust as well as dark and light greys woven into it. I’m much more comfortable with blues than I am greys and the rust will add warmth. At 13oz it’s the right weight and Nino tells me Caccioppoli is a well-respected Italian mill based in Naples which makes some beautiful well wearing cloths. A particular specialism is mixed weaves such as wool and cashmere. So while my suit will be a little more Italian than I anticipated the cloth is beautiful and it solves a few problems, such as my nervousness around pure greys, and it should drape and wear nicely.
Nino is ordering the cloth this week and once it arrives and we’ve given it the final approval it will be time to meet Franco Santoro for the measuring up and consultation on some of these unique design features. That is where we will pick up the next installment.
Nino’s of London
49 Brewer Street
020 7734 3234