by Karen Alberg Grossman

Fabio Attanasio is a natural-born storyteller. Born and raised in Naples, he realized after law school that he lacked a genuine passion for the law and therefore chose another path. His parents, although disappointed to lose “their son the lawyer,” supported his decision to move to Milan and start a blog (The Bespoke Dudes) about bench-made tailored clothing.

Attanasio signed books at a recent event at the Gladson showroom. Here with tailor Jorge Saez of Artigiano Miami; Stephen Kempson of Stephen Kempson London, and Stephanie Cabesaz.

Fabio’s passion is for both the product itself (he can rattle off differences in jackets made in Paris, Savile Row, Milan, Rome and Naples) and the life stories of the artisans who create these iconic garments. “When I first started interviewing master tailors, they were a little worried: who is this guy taking up my time? He’s very young, not a trained journalist, not a customer…” But once they realized I just wanted to tell their stories, they were so receptive. That’s what I love: telling people’s stories. And 12 years later, this passion has only intensified.”

The idea of a book evolved organically. “In 2016 and ’17, I was telling tailoring stories on social media but to me, it felt less tangible than putting them on paper. I wanted to freeze these experiences, to make them more permanent, so I started writing a book. But then along came Covid and the book wasn’t finished so I decided to use what I had completed for Book 1, and eventually continue Book 2, comparing French and English jackets. Book 3 will be about American custom tailors; I’ve interviewed many talented craftsmen in the U.S. whose custom business is now exceptionally strong.”

Noting that off-the-rack clothing has definitely declined over the years (in the UK, the sale of suits is no longer used as a barometer of annual inflation since there are too few sold to matter), Fabio points out that custom clothing is a whole different matter. “Bench made clothing sells itself to men who want an expression of who they are. Back when suits were a commodity, it was different: men dressed to blend in; now they dress to stand out…”

Attanasio with Ontario Armstrong, entrepreneur, art director, and brand consultant.

We discuss the shortage of tailors in the U.S. and the fact that there are virtually no schools here to teach these skills. “In Italy, there are some good schools, including three-year programs to become a master tailor. But I don’t so much value most company-sponsored schools: they raise tailors who can work for a company, not tailors who can create for an individual.”

Does Italian tailoring still top the list? “It depends on what you mean by ‘top’. Are you talking about sales volume, revenue, quality, creativity, aesthetics? It depends on what you’re looking for. I’m not one to blindly promote Italy: if I want a lightweight blazer for the weekend, I’ll go to Napoli; for a formal tuxedo, I might choose Savile Row; for a double breasted suit for meetings, I’ll head for Milan. It’s like with food: Napoli has the best pizza, Milan the best risotto. It depends on what you want.”

Left: Ksenia Konovalova founder of Vestium NY, and co-founder of The Sartorial Club.
Right: Julia Swan, Vestium.

I ask about the book’s title: Scent of Tailoring. Fabio explains it came from a conversation he had with a particular tailor about online competition. “He told me he wasn’t afraid of it, noting that it promotes wearing suits, but that there’s always something missing. ‘How can they communicate the scent of the tailoring?’ he asked me. “The uniquely comforting smell of wet wool?’”

We talk about a mutual friend: the late great Ciro Paone from Kiton. I relate how Ciro first taught me about the Neopolitan shoulder: how a full sleevehead fits into a smaller armhole, thereby creating that trademark puckering. Fabio reminds me that in the 1970s, with suit factories clothing, Ciro created jobs for so many tailors, and also a tailoring school. “For some reason, Ciro would always kiss my hands when we saw each other in Naples. I would tell him he doesn’t have to kiss my hands and he would say, ‘With your customers, you’ve got to make love…’”

Attanasio greets Joseph Genuardi of Genuardi Tailoring in Hoboken, N.J.

To those who would say bespoke garments are simply suits, Fabio begs to differ. “There is much more behind that bundle of fabric, cloth, linings and buttons. There is history, there is tradition, there is that human touch that in today’s digitized world makes all the difference.”

As for what the future holds for tailoring, Fabio believes that “bespoke clothing will increasingly resemble the worlds of luxury watches or vintage cars, worlds where emotional value far surpasses function. Lovers of luxury watches can see the time on their phones but choose to buy Swiss-made timepieces for the pride of owning such beauty and precision. People who drive vintage cars do not need them to get from point A to B but rather to hear the thrum of a classic motor and feel the thrill of driving such exquisite machines. In much the same way, tailoring will increasingly attract connoisseurs and enthusiasts who choose to be part of a rare human experience that somehow uplifts the spirit while magically connecting its creators to its clients.”

Scent of Tailoring (volumes 1 and 2) is available at; 20% off for a minimum of 10 units. Email:

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