Before we moved to Naples, I read a lot about the long tradition of high-quality tailoring in the city. As this article explains, the roots of the present industry date back to the ‘Confraternita dell’Arte dei Giubbonai e dei Cositori (Brotherhood of Jacket makers and of Tailors)’ which was founded in 1351 near the Mercato. By the 1600s there were over 600 registered tailors in the city. Subsequently the fortunes of the trade ebbed and flowed alongside those of the city before getting another boost in the 1900s with the appearance of Angelo Blasi on the scene.
As this excellent article by Parisian Gentlemen explains, Mr Blasi found his ‘inspiration in English tailoring, a structured jacket with padded and narrowed shoulders’, crafting his work ‘to emulate many of the characteristics’ of the suits from London.
At the same time, Vincenzo Attolini, working for a leading dandy, started to soften the more formal lines of the English-style jacket by removing the lining and shoulder pads and introducing some of the style cues which can be seen in the modern Naples jacket.
These are explained in a helpful beginners guide in the video above by Luca Rubinacci, the descendent of the dandy mentioned and heir to his grandfather’s tailoring dynasty. With a large online following and voted one of GQ’s best dressed men in the world, he talks about the DNA of the Naples jacket including the instantly recognisable spalla camicia or shirt sleeve, the soft flowing cut, the scant silk lining, the unique shape of the patch (tasca a pignata) and breast (tasca a barchetta) pockets, the carefully-chosen materials, the precise overlapping cuff details and other details. These together give the Naples jacket its uniqueness, a jacket perfectly adapted for both the climate of the south of Italy and also its mood. A jacket perfect for an warm summer’s evening.
Unsurprisingly, and despite the eye-watering cost, they are wildly popular in style circles. As a prize-winning men’s style blogger said ‘in recent years, a Neapolitan fever has gripped the world of bespoke tailoring’. And because mass manufacturing was never established here, beautiful items for gentlemen such as suits, ties, shirts, shoes and umbrellas are still made in the traditional manner, with skill, care and love by experts across the city.
I am already saving for my first jacket.
Image: Caliendo jacket details via The Rake Online.