Naples, Italy: A timeless tradition

by Elise Diamantini

NaplesI was recently invited to attend the Press/Opinion Makers tour of the fashion sector in Naples, Italy which was sponsored by The Provincial Council of Naples and IRVAT. We toured the exquisite Neapolitan coast and island of Ischia, making stops along the way at menswear shops and meeting with manufacturers (who all hand-make goods in Naples). A common trait among them was the high standard of craftsmanship, passion for product and pride in the company’s heritage, often passed down through generations. I found a quote by the great German writer Goethe in one of the brochures that describes Napoli perfectly: “Every time I wish to write words, visual images come up, images of the fruitful countryside, the open sea, the islands veiled in a haze, the smoking mountain, etc. And I lack the mental organ which could describe them. Naples is a paradise: Everyone lives in a state of intoxicated self-forgetfulness, and it is a strange experience for me to be in a society where everyone does nothing but enjoy himself.”

Regulable TieRegulable Tie was founded by two lawyers, Mario Petrocelli and Ernesto Piano, who began moonlighting as tie makers, creating their own line of adjustable, interchangeable ties. The length can be made shorter or longer depending on the man’s height with the ability to mix and match silk fabric patterns to create different looks (125 euro wholesale for 250 euro retail). They’ve also created a unique silk glasses case that does double duty as a pocket square!

Posillipo 1930Posillipo 1930 is a brand that makes beautiful suits, trousers, jackets, etc. under their own label. They also own two retail stores in Napoli and Sorrento that sell off-the-rack and made-to-measure suiting and apparel. Pictured here is Gabriella Rea, who is part of the third generation. Her grandfather started the company in the 1930s selling suiting fabrics. In the 1960s her father put it into production. Standouts include super lightweight blazers with a Neapolitan shoulder.

Shoes made from only one piece of leather--no cutting, no stitching. They take six months to make and cost 1,200 euro.

M. Cilento is a 250-year-old, multi-faceted company in its eighth generation and run by Ugo Cilento and his wife Roberta. They own two stores in Napoli, one that carries (20 percent) branded and (80 percent) private label merchandise and made-to-measure, and an accessories shop next door that carries ties, watches, cufflinks, bags, etc. Above the accessories store is a museum with a large collection of dead stock fabrics from the 40s to the 60s and other historical memorabilia. Their namesake private brand is handmade with love and passion and features seven-fold ties, scarves, shoes and suits.

Pelletterie Il KuoioPelletterie Il Kuoio is a briefcase and leathergoods manufacturer. Founded by a father and his and three sons in 1979, they hand work leather to create special treatments and effects. Prices range from 90 to 140 euro (wholesale), bags are 70 to 95 euro and belts are 14 to 19 euro. Pictured at right is Giovanni Severino.

Di Mella Srl.Di Mella Srl. makes gorgeous footwear—but only about 14 pairs per day. Their focus is on comfort and style; they refuse large orders for fear of sacrificing quality for quantity. Prices range from about 70 euro wholesale for driving mocs, to about 160 to 170 euro wholesale for other styles. About 50 percent of their business is from Italian sales, and a big part of sales are from Japanese accounts. Giovana Di Mella says that Japanese stores that buy the line merchandise it with other Neapolitan brands, like Kiton.