by William Buckley

Many of you will be familiar with the Ravazzolo brand. For 19 years, Ravazzolo’s U.S. market was handled by a multi-brand showroom in New York.

With the burgeoning American market for Italian brands, Ravazzolo recently opened their own showroom in NYC, and president Andrea Ravazzolo, representing the family company’s youngest generation, is leading the expansion with sales exec George Tsaganeas, previously of Canali. We caught up with Ravazzolo in the new digs to talk made to measure, the 19th century and changing times.

Ravazzolo has so much history Andrea, so where to start?
You know, our company was established in 1959 industrially talking, but before that there was a long history of artisans in my family that started at the end of the 19th century. We did a lot of research through old historical books and we found that the first Ravazzolo tailor operated in the county of Grumolo delle Abbadesse going back to 1896, a little county where the company was established, close to Vincenza and close to Venice. The company is still there. It was established there, built there, increased and expanded there; everything is there; the headquarters is there, so it’s 119 years of history in this industry. My father and my uncle built up the business as it is today. In the beginning it was easy: we supplied to our first market Vicenza, then increased to North Italy, and then to all Italy, and around 1978 we expanded outside Italy to Japan. We built a tremendous business there, tons of garments. It was a very good time.

Is Japan still a big market?
It is still a strong market, but it’s decreased a little. Now our strongest market is America, so we’re putting our energy into expanding here.

Hence the new showroom. How did that come about?
We established our presence in North America in 1996, but last year after 19 years with the same showroom, we decided it was time for a change. Now it’s another chapter of the company. We are trying to establish a very strong market here: we believe in this market, where the economic crisis seems to be in the past. Until recently we were building business in Russia, but now Russia is having a lot of problems because of the crisis with Ukraine etc. Here in America the internal product is growing up so it means that there are many positive signals from the economy.

I’m most familiar with your custom suiting, but it looks like you have a full ready to wear and lifestyle collection here?
We have both ready to wear and made to measure, and both are strong. Our made to measure service is exceptional for many reasons, but one focus is our attention to the posture of the customer: we study the body of the guy. We maintain a very strong and constant quality so if the customer is requiring from us a certain dimension of shoulder, waist or something else, we deliver what the customer wants. Also, we’ll do it in three working weeks plus the time of transportation. That is another important thing; we don’t want to promise delivery in one week and then deliver in three or promise you in three weeks and deliver in two. We promise in three and we deliver in three. The most important thing is to be reliable; reliability builds credibility.

And what about this collection here?
This collection is totally new for us, and it is as luxurious as anything we offer. We have created outerwear, neckwear, shirts, shoes and bags. This is all that certain kind of product that when a guy tries any of it on, he knows there is nothing standard about it. The comfort is unbelievable. You know, in the 56 years of the industrial history of our company, we’ve never produced one fused garment. This was a choice that my ancestors and my parents made before me and it was the best choice they could have made. If we had not made this choice in the past, we would now be in competition with countries where labor costs are so low, we couldn’t compete. But by producing garments like these in Italy, in a factory like ours with such a high level of skill we attain such a level of luxury that is unsurpassed anywhere in the world.