This month’s interview focuses on Sartoria Orefice of Cernobbio, which for five generations has made excellence its outstanding feature.
Sartoria Orefice is one of oldest historical Italian tailoring businesses. Tell us more about you.
Our origins trace back to 1856, but the existence of Mr Orefice, a tailor by profession, was found even further back in 1830. The headquarters have always been in Cernobbio, a city with a textile tradition, where my predecessors were able to find the right clientele and so developed an excellent professional reputation. They set up their business with care so as to offer a perfect product focused on the client. My father managed to face the challenge of the prȇt-à-porter by enhancing style and refinement in tailoring, besides gaining recognition from a vast international clientele. The processing method is still a traditional one, since all is handcrafted: this is the only flexible system that enables us to give the right three-dimensional feature, and which respects the natural flow of the fabric.
However, there is still room for our product, since it involves the aspect of personal pleasure and the sphere of self-esteem.
Cleto, you represent the fifth generation of masters tailors of the Sartoria Orefice. How has tailoring changed over the years?
What has changed is the perception of time. Years back the client was willing to find the time to spend at a tailor’s shop, but this occurs less today. The impact of fashion has increased and the young clients request style lines that keep abreast with the trends. Foreign clients stay only for a few days and this is why we have organised ourselves to be able to serve them and do the fitting out with readily available fabric, to then sew the definite outfits in due time and subsequently ship out. In general, I have noticed different types of requests, according to national and foreign clients. The first have become less attentive to quality, whereas the second still consider durability and tailoring excellence as a fundamental value.
You count many illustrious personalities among your clients, from Alphonse XIII King of Spain, to Clark Gable and then statesmen, businessmen, men of culture and athletes. What is your clientele like today?
Our clientele is generally made up of people holding key positions. These people know what they want, have clear ideas and a background of important experience. But despite all of this, they are simple people. They ask for advice and craftsmanship, and take interest in manual dexterity, charm, novelties, always balanced with discretion. Most of them are businessmen or professionals.
Fashion is continually and rapidly changing. With e-commerce and the current concept of disposable goods, is there still a niche for ”custom-made” clothes?
These are all factors that influence the choices of a client, and I would say that today masculine clothing is not made up of just one signature, but even the most traditional clients like to vary. However, there is still room for our product, since it involves the aspect of personal pleasure and the sphere of self-esteem. At times, I feel that some clients come to us because they are weary of this fast, vulgar and fleeting way of dressing. Of course custom-made clothing is greatly sought-after for its genuineness and no shortcut tricks. It’s a matter of culture, not just being able to afford it. Even in our field, innovation or new proposals are very welcome as long as they are balanced.
Contemporary craftsmen have to be able to combine tradition with innovation. How does this come about in your creations?
This merging is expressed in our patented Net Tailor system. Another innovation is the treatment, upon request, with nanotechnology of the linings, that become bacteriostatic and eliminate the problem of odour due to sweat. We furthermore propose jackets with new stylistic features, namely customised shadings. The proposal is to create jacket shadings that highlight or cover certain anatomical features of the client. We make the shadings with both chemical products - used in a cold process - and completely natural and ecological colours. This is our response to the theme of Expo 2015.
You have patented a new distance-tailoring system. Could you explain what Net Tailor is and the results achieved?
It is a system based on a networked, remote control camera, that allows the tailor’s eye to be projected from a distance. Through the shades achieved, we measure the straight fabric flow, the defects and other measurements with the help of a person present onsite. This allows us to shorten the time for taking measurements and doing the fitting out, as well as to be in contact with the client at the time of the request. Our Net Tailor system breaks national borders and approaches clients worldwide.
Do you think the youth may be attracted to undertaking an artistic craft like yours?
The immediate answer is no, because our tax system does not favour handicrafts. But in my heart the answer is “yes”, since a manual job, one that needs perception, sensitivity, passion and culture is really personally gratifying. And then, there will always be someone looking for a tailor.