About this project
You + tailor + cloth. This is the essence of bespoke - a one-to-one-to-one correspondence of those key elements. You initiate the interest and desire for a bespoke garment. A highly skilled tailor creates a unique pattern and finished garment based on your figure and measurements. The cloth provides the critical, essential material for the tailor to realize the commission.
Sicilian Reserve is about exploring the last frontier in bespoke tailoring and giving you the freedom to enjoy bespoke in a new way. It means reclaiming the critical role you play in this unique adventure. We enable you to experience bespoke without the rigidities of traditional bespoke and the inherent limitations of made-to-measure programs (MTM).
Like many of you, I have gone through a sartorial journey by cycling through RTW menswear brands, MTM programs at established and newer brands and bespoke tailors around the world.
For those in the know, bespoke tailoring is one of life’s peak experiences. But traditional bespoke has long been limited to the few who could afford it. What if you could enjoy the virtues of bespoke in a much more personal, active and accessible way?
I began my sartorial journey more than ten years ago and ended up visiting dozens of bespoke tailors around the world. Initially, I invested my time and energy in some of the most well-known bespoke tailors in London. Savile Row is the origin of modern men’s tailoring and continues to flourish and remain incredibly relevant after 150 years.
I also explored Naples, the second capital of bespoke tailoring with its buzzing cluster of workshops and traditions. Later, my travels took me to the Far East which offers an excellent, increasingly global option for customers. Last but not least, I met a number of very dedicated and talented tailors from Los Angeles to New York and D.C.
For a long time I thought London and Naples were the alpha and omega of bespoke tailoring. That thought held firm until I visited an intriguing Mediterranean island called Sicily.
Of all of my bespoke experiences, I have found Sicily to be most rewarding even though it required the most effort.
In 2011 I wrote and published the first English language book on Sicilian tailors to connect them to sartorial enthusiasts around the world. If you live near Italy or travel regularly to Europe and speak Italian, then I urge you to personally visit Sicily. If you prepare and plan properly, nothing compares to discovering Sicilian tailoring in person. You’ll be in good company with an adventurous group of early adopters.
For the rest of us outside of Europe, I launched Sicilian Reserve to introduce Sicilian tailoring to a larger audience without losing its essential qualities.
The skeptic will say that the bespoke tailoring landscape has already been mapped out - London occupies one axis for classic structured jackets, Naples for unstructured jackets. These are the known knowns and there is nothing new under the bespoke sun. Or is there?
What's new is the emergence of the something that's been hidden away for years. For me, Sicily is the last undiscovered enclave of bespoke tailoring in the Western Hemisphere.
If you like soft tailoring (i.e. soft, natural shoulder and construction), Sicily makes a robust case for offering a truly unique value. Nowhere else can you find a hand-cut and hand-made bespoke garment accessibly priced and on par with the craftsmanship of top tier bespoke.
True bespoke for the price of RTW or MTM brands. Is that even possible? Yes, such a thing exists. Shock (the good kind) ensues. “You just broke the Internet” blurted out one sartorial enthusiast to a reader of my book sharing his Sicily experience. That may be so but the real question is for how long. The picture I am painting has already begun to change due to a wave of retiring tailors.
But for the time being, nowhere else can you find soft tailoring done so simply, skillfully and with incredible humility. Bespoke practiced as a matter of everyday living, hidden away and mostly undiscovered. This is a quieter luxury with craft and relationships rooted in a specific place. If you don’t know the place, you will likely never know its tailoring tradition.
These tailors truly embody the idea of local authenticity. They make clothes largely for other Sicilians; they rarely travel outside of Italy or even Sicily; and their workshops produce limited quantities of suits, jackets and trousers year after year. They are tailors who know only one thing - practicing their craft in their hometown.
With your help, we can extend the rich bespoke traditions and expertise of these remaining Sicilian artisans to benefit both their communities and a larger audience outside of Sicily. The ideal backer appreciates bespoke tailoring, understands textiles, and is open to exploring a different tailoring tradition.
Based on my extensive travels and research, I have decided to collaborate with a highly skilled tailor and his small workshop on the Ionian Coast in eastern Sicily. This tailor is not profiled in my guidebook but he easily belongs to the same class of remarkable artisans featured therein. Like a few others, he can produce a first jacket (or suit) for a new client based on just one fitting.
But he is also truly one of a kind in other respects. Above all, he is a highly experienced practitioner of his craft and has worked in the trade for decades. He has won national awards in competition with other leading tailors across Italy. Unlike most tailors, he is fluent in several different cutting systems (including one dating back to 1928) and has learned over the years to apply the optimal system and techniques depending on the specific application.
His workshop is capable of creating soft tailoring and more classic, structured garments for both men and women. In a good sign for the future, his workshop includes a younger generation learning, cutting and designing for clients. Unlike many of his compatriots, this tailor has the desire and capacity to continue the business after he retires.
Even so, his workshop has extremely limited production - about 100 suits per year. But he has agreed to reserve a portion of his limited bespoke production to clients outside of Italy for the very first time. By definition and circumstance, this collaboration is intrinsically special, limited and unique, as will be your participation in this venture.
What we create for you flows from this philosophy. We combine your creative input in the selection and sourcing of the cloth with highly localized craftsmanship. Perhaps paradoxically, the result is a new way of experiencing bespoke that is both rarer and more accessible at the same time.
Featured Sicilian Reserve Tailor - Sample Jacket and Pants
Our featured tailor and his workshop made this sample jacket and pants in a single forward fitting. For more photos, please visit the Sicilian Reserve website.
How does the Sicilian Reserve approach to bespoke work? First, you will take the initiative to provide your own cloth. This is an essential part of the “lean bespoke” concept. Personally sourcing high quality vintage or overstock cloth is the preferred path for the sartorial enthusiast. There is perhaps nothing more satisfying than finding the right cloth fit for your purpose and design. Often this cloth is no longer in production or widely available. Moreover, buying cloth from a previous year’s production minimizes waste and avoids the additional overhead cost of buying in-season cloth.
Assuming basic knowledge of jacketing and suiting cloths, you will be able to source top-notch, high quality cloth in distinctive weaves, weights and finishes. If you live in or near a major metropolitan area, you have access to quality fabric merchants like Tip Top in New York City and Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. Alternatively, you can order online from reputable English and Italian textile mills such as Huddersfield Fine Worsted, Fox Flannel or Yorkshire Fabric and third-party sellers like British Fabrics on eBay.
In addition, I will assist and provide guidance on fabric choices as needed to ensure a quality bespoke commission.
For each bespoke reward, customers will need to provide their own cloth. A bespoke reward will include two appointments in the New York City area for an initial measurement by the Sicilian Reserve team and a forward fitting with the tailor. The third and final meeting in the NYC area will be hand delivery of the finished garments, which can be skipped in favor of direct shipment.
After the campaign is funded, we will schedule a date and time to take measurements at client's office, home or other location within a 60 minute travel radius of New York City. Measurement appointments can be made Monday to Saturday, 9am to 8pm and Sunday by appointment.
Please note that measurements must be taken and customer cloths must be received by end of business on July 10, 2017 to be included in the Autumn 2017 Reserve.
Client fittings will take place Friday to Sunday on September 15-17, 2017 in New York City.
Target date for shipping is December 15, 2017 or sooner.
With your support, an updated edition of my guidebook on Sicilian tailors will be released later this summer (August 2017). It will feature updated logistics, new tailors and revised profiles of currently active tailors.
Each bespoke jacket is constructed to the following standard:
- Unique pattern based on your measurements
- Hand-cut fabric
- Hand-padded chest and lapel canvas
- Hand-sewn pick stitching
- Barchetta breast pocket
- Hand-made buttonholes
- Reinforced pocket openings (D-tacks or mezzaluna)
- Hand-sewn lining
You will be able to specify a full range of styling options such as:
- Shoulder type (manica camicia or classic shoulder)
- Length of jacket
- Lapel type
- Gorge height
- Pocket type (patch, flap or welted)
- Number of internal pockets
- Number of sleeve buttons
Each pair of trousers is constructed to the following standard:
- Unique pattern based on your measurements
- Hand-cut fabric
- Pleated curtained waistband
- Hem reinforcement
- Bar tacking on stress points
- Lining to the knee
You will be able to specify a range of styling options including:
- Pocket types and positioning (e.g. slant side pockets, one back pocket on the right)
- Belted waistband v. side adjusters
- Zipper v. buttoned fly
- Pleated or plain front
- Hidden coin pocket (left or right)
- Preferred leg opening width
Combine the jacket and trouser rewards to create a two-piece suit.
About Sicilian Reserve
Sicilian Reserve is intended to provide a platform to connect Sicilian artisans to a broader audience in a measured, respectful way. Great bespoke tailoring may be intrinsically local but the experience inherently transcends borders.
Website - www.sicilianreserve.com
Risks and challenges
1. Delivery timeframe - Because of the workshop’s limited production, we are closely coordinating with the tailor and workshop to determine and work within a reasonable amount of orders. However, there may be unexpected delays in delivering the finished garments due to temporary shipping/custom delays and other irregularities outside of our direct control.
2. Language - Since our tailor doesn’t speak English, there is a risk of miscommunication. However, we will provide a translator during US fittings and our extended team includes a bilingual English/Italian speaker co-located with the tailor in Sicily. Of course, you are also free to bring a friend or relative who speaks Italian to your forward fitting with the tailor.
3. Fabric - Please consult the FAQs or with us to make sure you choose cloth of sufficient length and quality. Inspect your length of cloth before our first meeting for any defects. Sicilian Reserve is not responsible for any cloth defects. We will also inspect your cloth but you may want to consider bringing a second cloth option as a backup. For sourcing fabrics, please refer to the cloth section above.
4. Garment fit - We promise to deliver a jacket or suit customized to you and your observed posture at the time we take your measurements and conduct the forward fitting. If there are minor changes in your body shape, posture and/or weight after we take the measurements or at the fitting, we can normally accommodate them. However, we may not be able to guarantee fit if there are significant changes in body shape, posture and/or weight.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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