Way back in 1664, London’s Jermyn Street was created by and named after Henry Jermyn, the 1st Earl of St Albans, as part of his development of the St. James’s area of the city. Together with Savile Row, Jermyn Street has been the temple of refined British menswear — and the center of the menswear universe — almost ever since. Initially, Jermyn Street was famous for bespoke and high-quality shirts, just as Savile Row was for suits. In the last few decades, though, many famous brands have opened shops there, and it has become a “high street,” known not only for shirts, but for suits, shoes, and other men’s apparel and accessories, sort of losing its cachet. In an effort to bring the street back to its former glory, Italian tailor Sartoria dei Duchi opened its fourth location on the street in May. Here we’re catching up with founder and CEO Piero Pavone.
“We want to bring back high-quality artisanship in the street as it traditionally was in the past by offering a timeless Italian touch,” says Pavone. “After May’s soft opening, plans are already underway for a full-scale formal opening by the end of the summer, potentially during London Fashion Week in September.”
Inspired by the lavish dress code and lifestyle of the dukes of the House of Acquaviva, an aristocratic landowning family in the Abruzzo region since the 14th century, Pavone introduced the Sartoria Dei Duchi collection in 2017, bringing the region’s traditional bespoke aesthetic to today’s menswear.
What sets the tailoring style of the Abruzzo area apart from other parts of Italy? We asked Pavone for his perspective on the style and for a little history.
“The sartorial tradition of Abruzzo is well represented by the extremely skilled work of several tailors from Abruzzo, above all, Domenico Caraceni. He has dressed princes and Hollywood actors, as well as charismatic characters such as Gianni Agnelli and Aristotle Onassis. Another immortal name from Abruzzo is that of the designer Nazareno Fonticoli da Penne. Born in 1906, he was one of the original owners of Brioni. The Abruzzo tailors of Brioni have made clothes for most of the presidents of the world’s most powerful nations. Mario de Luca, also from the region, is known for Camps de Luca, bringing his Italian and Spanish heritage to in Paris.
“Abruzzo tailoring stands for a typical Mediterranean softness, modifying the classic layout of British tailors whose clothes are always a bit rigid, a little military, yet with their own particular internal substance. For this reason, it is said that a Caraceni outfit has the lightness of a handkerchief. Since then, the Abruzzese school has distinguished itself from the Neapolitan school, which is more marked and exasperated. The three qualities of modern Abruzzo processing are softness, lightness, and flexibility. The synthesis of all these requirements is simple, and we at SDD are happy to continue this “innovative tradition” of Abruzzo. Our main collection is composed of fully and half-lined suits, so even if deconstruction is not the right term to describe our main sartorial technique, of course, this is a kind of technique that our tailors know and could apply in case the particular model/fabric choice of the clients requires it.
Opening in London must be seen as a challenge to traditional Savile Row tailors. What does your tailoring style offer that will appeal to the British customer?
There are differences between English and Italian tailoring. Still, both are renowned for using the finest fabrics, wool in particular, their exquisite craftsmanship, and the care for every detail and timeless style. The main difference between English and Italian tailoring is the style and the fit of the garments; a structured and more formal style characterizes the first, while Italian tailoring can be more relaxed and softer. English suits are generally more traditional, with a single-breasted jacket and a tapered waist. Italian suits are often more elegant and “original”: Italian tailoring is, in fact, also known for its use of bold colors and patterns, while English tailoring is more conservative and often uses more classic colors.
In brief, Italian tailoring offers softness, elegance, and a wide range of patterns and textures, while British tailoring offers durability, tradition, and classic patterns. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to the customer’s preferences and needs, so consult a skilled tailor to help you make the right decision. For this reason, Sartoria dei Duchi wants to be sure to offer its customers the maximum technical assistance and style advice to make them feel at ease, to ensure that they can choose and obtain the best product for their needs, always ensuring impeccable manufacturing and the highest quality of raw materials. Sartoria dei Duchi can satisfy both the requests for a more classic, traditional, and formal style and a more fashionable, original, and relaxed style.
Our experience in Dubai (Sartoria’s second location) has confirmed that quality, professionalism, and experience are the correct methods to succeed, even in areas of the world with different styles and habits. Customers in Dubai and the region generally are very attentive to the quality of raw materials: they are only looking for the best cotton, the finest wool, and the finest cashmere. They love the elegant and refined Italian style but remain more on the classic and formal tones about the choices of colors and patterns.
What do you think is bringing men back to traditional tailoring? Who is your target customer?
The increase in the general well-being of people and the desire, in such a globalized society, to feel unique and to emphasize one’s personality integrates today with the traditional need of a man to feel elegant, impeccable, and at the same time ease in public. Also, the growing competence in the knowledge of raw materials and their cruciality in obtaining a good item of clothing help bring people closer to the bespoke and made-to-measure tailoring world. The man that wears SDD prefers to wear a suit that fits well rather than a signed one; for us, this means assisting the customer in solving fitting problems, in offering them the opportunity to get a garment that makes them feel comfortable and at the top of their shape, mitigating possible physical defects and emphasizing instead the personality of the customer, whether it is flashy and original or more aimed at the formal and classic. The result does not change for both: the SDD customer will get a garment that will enhance his figure, durable for quality and manufacture, and with a fashionable, timeless style. We believe that by offering this type of products of the highest quality for raw materials and manufacturing and all-round customer service, together with the uniqueness of the Abruzzo style of SDD, we could approach many new customers from all over the world to make them experience our exclusive made in Italy service.
Can we expect to see a Sartoria Dei Duchi the store in the United States soon?
We are currently studying the US market and doing our research. Still, our purpose is to open there soon: We will probably go for our own mono-brand store first, as already done for London and Dubai. However, we are open to profitable collaborations to expand in the United States.