Are you a sophisticated tomboy that loves dress shirts, lives for bespoke apparel and appreciates fine artisan craftsmanship? Look no further!
Are you one of those people that gets excited over tailor made clothing? Do you love diverse textures and stitching and buttons? Do you feel jealous when you see someone wearing a perfectly fit shirt? Do you believe in the craftsmanship and superior value of bespoke apparel? Do your friends refer to you as the sophisticated tomboy of the group? Well, if you answered YES! to any of these questions, then you will definitely want to continue reading….if not, I still suggest you keep reading, it might make you change your mind...
Everybody is “obsessed” with something…shirts are my obsession. Soon they will become yours, too.
Born as an underwear garment, the shirt has not always been like we know it today. Allegedly, shirts started out as pop-overs, smocks of sorts, and only in 1871 the company “Brown, Davis & Co” registered the first model with frontal buttoning. Cuffs and collars were initially removable, so that the same shirt could be worn many days in a row, just changing those parts. Flash forward a century, to a dull humdrum style of functional American clothing and then came Giorgio Armani, who single handedly changed the face of fashion in the USA via Richard Gere in the film An Officer and A Gentleman. He reintroduced the concept of sleek, custom fit clothing with style and comfort. My interest in clothing however began in a different era. Growing up in the 1980’s in Milan, my family owned a fabric company. We sold rare, top quality fabrics from Italy and Europe. My very early childhood memories revolve around that world, which gave me a keen eye, and a strong passion, for fashion. Among all clothing items, I’ve always been intrigued by button-down shirts, especially those for men. I remember watching my mom hand-press my father’s shirts and then looking at my father leave the house perfectly dressed in a suit and tie for work. He looked so good because his shirts were customized, tailored to fit and match his body, and more importantly, his personality. For those of you that have not done it yet, designing your own shirt is a highly rewarding experience, which ends in the creation of a one-of-a kind piece, just like you! The uniqueness lies in the many different elements you can choose from, such as the fabric, the wave (poplin; piquet; oxford; twill; herringbone), the collar (Italian; French; button down; penguin; round), the cuff (round; square; straight; single or double cufflinks), the pocket (round or square; with or w/o button; with or w/o flap), the buttons, even the buttonhole colors, just to name a few… Whoever thinks that there is only one kind of shirt, well, they need to think again! Throughout the years I’ve realized that there is a whole shirt universe out there, and that’s why it’s so fascinating to me!
A love-hate relationship: do you LOVE dress shirts, but HATE the fact they don’t fit the woman’s body properly, and that the design options are so limited?
Unfortunately, it seems like the incredible, wonderful breadth of options in shirts is only available to men. When it comes to women’s wardrobes, the choices in button-down shirts are very limited: slim to none! The only options are low quality, poorly made, wrinkled, generic rack models. Add to this the fact that most of those shirts are industrially made from standard men’s templates and therefore not form-fitting at all; and, those darn buttons always seem to be placed in just the wrong spots, if you know what I mean… Combined, these are the reasons that many women just prefer to avoid wearing button-down shirts all together! The disappointing “disaster” fits and boring choices aren’t that appealing after all…
It’s time to turn the category upside down with a new design process and a one-of-kind offering for an underserved group of fashion victims.
The one and only way to offer a shirt with a perfect fit is to design the shirt using a made-to-measure service. Believe me, there is nothing better than a tailor made button-down shirt that fits your body like a glove to make you look, and feel, like a million bucks! My vision is a line of bespoke shirts that are made to match the precise contours of your shoulders, chest and waist, even the size of your watch! Tired of shirts that are too long or too short in length? No worries, my bespoke shirts will have the length you prefer, whether you like to tuck them in or wear them out. And getting back to those buttons placed in the wrong spots, another big frustration is certainly the dreaded “boob gaping” effect, you know, the unpleasant and embarrassing shirt opening at your breast level. To avoid it, I re-designed the traditional 7-button placement to strengthen the shirt properly at those crucial closing points. All of my shirts, beginning with this introductory collection, will use more buttons, strategically placed at shorter distances from each other for your added privacy.
As I started sketching the collection, I looked around and had an epiphany of sorts….how about designing a collection of bespoke shirts specifically for those whom I call “sophisticated tomboys?” You know, the girls in love with clothes inspired by men’s wardrobes, with unexpected details that make them very chic. Being a sophisticated tomboy myself, I can confidently say that the market is very underserved! Hence the idea of introducing the brand PASSONI, which will be initially launched with a line of button-down shirts with a masculine chic style and proudly made to measure in Italy.
Designed in Chicago, USA + Made in Milano, ITALY: merging the very best of what the two worlds have to offer.
I’m a huge believer in the power of the Team. Especially when it comes to innovation, where knowing how to involve different parties and bring their very best assets to the table is key. For this specific project, I chose ITALY for its renowned fashion heritage, superb craftsmanship skills and outstanding quality of fabrics. Living in Chicago and being immersed in the urban heart of the American context, made me realize the key role that technology and service play to shape new experiences that ultimately bring joy and delight to our daily life. It was clear to me that by combining the fashion DNA of Italy and the advanced digital-driven soul of the USA, the results could be very breakthrough. I source the fabrics from the best Italian manufacturers located in the North and Northeast areas, which have a long history in the cotton industry dating back to the early 1900s: Como, Bergamo and Treviso. These fabrics are made exclusively from compact single yarns in pure Egyptian cotton, famous for its purity, gloss and sheen. The buttons, although small details, cannot be underestimated. Passoni shirts boast mother of pearl buttons, as this material is stronger and more glittery than the traditional plastic ones. Finally, the production process. The shirts will be made in an artisanal lab just outside of Milan, by a small group of highly specialized, passionate tailors with a long history in the textile world. All of the above will guarantee the excellence of the authentic "Made in Italy" experience, I promise. From an overall experience point of view, the reason why bespoke services in general are not that popular and widespread is because they only exist within a physical space, the traditional brick and mortar store, where someone has to physically touch and measure you. I would like to make bespoke more accessible to you by revolutionizing the way body measures are taken. The goal is to develop an app that will allow you to simply and effortlessly take your body measures just by snapping a few selfies…and who can’t snap a few selfies!? A special algorithm will then process the photos and calculate your correct body measures. Everything, in just a couple of minutes. Welcome to BESPOKE 2.0.
A phased approach by design. Or, as we say in Italy, Una cosa alla volta…
To deliver this extraordinarily revamped shirt buying experience, I’ve developed a phased approach to bring my project to life.
PHASE 1: focus on the PRODUCT (Nov 2014 - Feb 2015). We will deliver bespoke shirts to our (hopefully many) sophisticated tomboy backers using the traditional method of measuring the body with a measurement tape. A step-by-step how to guide will be provided.
PHASE 2: focus on the EXPERIENCE (March – July 2015). We will go a step further by developing, prototyping, testing and launching the app that will revolutionize the body measurement experience and the bespoke world at large.
My dream? Design a whole BESPOKE world for sophisticated tomboys
Whenever you launch a project, you need to identify the starting point. I chose to begin with dress shirts as they represent the ultimate apparel item for tomboys. But I have bigger plans in mind. I envision designing an ecosystem of products, services and experiences for sophisticated tomboys. The initial domain will be fashion but we will gradually move beyond that and start tapping into the décor and travel worlds as well. How exciting!
Bespoke thanks: grazie, grazie, grazie!
This project would not exist without the help of the following talented people I'm surrounded by:
Laboratorio Su Misura: Cinzia, Eli, Claudia, Miriam, Nicoletta, Linda Li, Linda
and a very special thanks to my parents, who instilled me with creativity, style and drive!
Risks and challenges
The artisanal tailor shop is ready to transform your orders into shirts. I have already produced 2 small runs of shirts, and have done significant testing with the fabrics, the buttons and other materials. All of my family, friends and coworkers agree that my shirts are the best looking shirts they have seen and cannot wait to proudly wear them!! I’ve been stopped on the street and asked about the shirt I was wearing (I could not have been happier that day!). I know the demand is out there waiting to be satisfied.
The biggest risk I can think of is a delay in the manufacturing process. Although I have planned out every detail and the artisanal tailor shop has a weekly manufacturing capacity of 800 shirts, unexpected things can occur, especially if the demand will be overwhelming. If there are any issues I will be proactive in communication and try to resolve them as quickly as possible. I’m 300% committed to making this a reality, no matter what it takes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)