Made in Italy: Why It’s More Than a Phrase in Suiting
There are hundreds of suit companies and designers all over the world. You can get a suit for as little as $49 from some manufacturers, but what kind of quality does that price point suggest? At the same time, you can get an expensive suit with great fabric, but absolutely no unique features and customizations. With all the options and designers out there, how do you know what to look for?
What is the quintessential mark of high quality?
Many would argue the “Made in Italy” tag on the garment to be exactly the thing to look for in suiting. Having worn suits from all over the world, I’d have to agree. Look, it’s more than simply where the fabric comes from, but that’s certainly a large part of why Italian suits are superior to others. But let’s take a minute and review why Italian suits are so coveted, and more importantly, why Made in Italy is more than just a phrase by looking at one of my favorite fashion houses: Canali.
When shopping for a suit, fit –above all else– is what matters. Immediately following fit is fabric. I don’t mind taking clients to local suit suppliers and helping him select and tailor a suit to fit his needs, and all having it come out under $200. At the same time, I also know he’s missing out on fabric, family, and finish when he does that. Here’s what I mean…
Italian suits are often synonymous with trend-setting, at least when it comes to fit. They are slimmer than other styles (American, English), and focus more on clean lines, sharper edges, and a defined “V” cut in the jackets. Canali suits are visibly Italian with their sharp edges and tailored silhouette. Traditional Italian suits began without rear vents and besom pockets, but have since added the vents and now come with the standard pocket options (flap, hacking, patch, besom, ticket, etc.)
In made-to-measure suiting, you are getting a garment tailored to your body before it arrives, which allows you to have a say in how things fit. Canali has a program for made-to-measure called Su Misura (on measures) in which you get to really dig into the heritage and pride of the brand. You meet with a stylist / master tailor to get your measurements taken and create a fit profile. It’s more of a conversation, rather than a checklist, and it allows the romance of the fit and finish to really shine through. You learn very quickly that not all suits are created equal, and you’re stepping up to a new level of fit and finish.
Like many modern fashion houses, Canali suits are created with finishing options to help make it yours. Their made-to-measure program gives you the ability to choose specific details like buttons, stitching, contrasts, lining, and construction. Some of the absolute “musts” when constructing a suit are working sleeve buttons (surgeon’s cuffs) and contrast stitching.
Showing off the buttons and stitching at the end of your sleeve shows the world that you take pride in what you wear and invested in a tailored fit. Generic off-the-rack suiting does not have working buttons on the sleeves because it severely reduces the fabric available for alterations, making it a poor match for “one-size-fits-most” inventory. Having working buttons and contrasting thread lets the world know you aren’t an off-the-rack kind of guy.
Additional details you’ll get with your Canali suit are a floating canvas, hand sewn pick stitching, and elegantly piped jacket details. In an unlined or half-lined jacket, there isn’t a liner to hide shoddy craftsmanship, so all fabric ends must be cleaned and stitched to be protected and strong. These stitches have to be perfect because they are exposed inside the jacket. The margin for error is essentially zero. The next time you see a deconstructed or half-lined jacket, look for the stitch quality in the jacket construction (the seams inside the jacket where the pieces all come together). If it doesn’t make you saw “wow” you might want to reconsider spending the money.
Italian Family – Heritage
The biggest reason why “Made in Italy” is so synonymous with quality in suiting lies in the families and tradition of the tailors, mills, and houses themselves. Canali Made in Italy Suiting has been making beautiful suits since 1934, which gives them over 80 years, and three generations of family tradition in the art. While many textile operations are turning to mass production and lowing their overhead to increase profits, the established mills and houses are doubling down on tradition and attention to detail.
The greatest mills in the world come from Northern Italy, and the greatest fashion houses turn out garments focused on the greatest quality, fit, and finish because it brings them great pride to do it. It’s all about family in Italy, and when you have an Italian suit made, you can rest easy knowing your garment is getting tender loving care, just like it was a part of the family.
It is truly for this reason that I’m such a big fan of Italian suiting and the Canali craftsmanship. They take pride in taking things one stitch at a time. Could you get a suit faster, cheaper, and look relatively similar? Of course! But remember, you get what you pay for. If you want the best of the best, you’re looking for suits bearing the Made in Italy moniker.
Check out more of their story, their lineup, and their attention to detail at Canali.com.
What’s your favorite suit? What’s your favorite design element?
If you woke up tomorrow with an unlimited budget to get a suit, where would you go?
Share in the comments below so we can connect!