WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I have made a passion a profession. When I was little, 6 or 7 years old, my father took me to the laboratory and told me to “have fun” in the middle of the tailors. I had little pieces of fabric that the tailors made me attach like patchwork so that I could go to school with personalized jeans. This anecdote makes you understand how, in this world, I have always been there and until today I have tried to steal the experience of others, because this profession is not taught in school. Today I differ from other craftsmen because I do not sew, I can sew, I can sew a jacket but I do not because it was my father who forbids it.
When I was 20, I told my father that I did not want to go to university and he said “ok, but you go to our tailor’s shop in London because in Italy you will always be Mariano’s son. If you go to London they will be hostile but you will learn something that we do not know”. I went to Savile Row. The first day from Kilgour, I go with two suits and a jacket, all perfect.
The first thing they tell me is “get here in the middle” and all the tailors start to criticize my jacket; I come home angry, I call my father saying that I wanted to return to Naples. “Luca, on your first day you already learnt something” and told me about the differences between Neapolitan tailoring and the English one. And I am a very competitive person, very proud, maybe because I am a Scorpio, I went to the head tailor in the tailor shop: he 65, I was 20 years old and I said, “Look, you see this shoulder is called shirt shoulder” and I started to say things, I tried to retort what they had said. “Look you insolent, that little desk at the bottom was yours but you’re too bold and I want to put you next to me so you can learn what English tailoring is and finally you tell me if you father’s is better than mine.”.
This being a bit ‘strong meant that instead of sitting on a desk for 6 months I spent 6 months right next to the head tailor. In the end, I returned to Naples and said to my father “They do an exceptional job, you too, the only problem is that nobody talks to each other. Those who do Neapolitan tailoring do not appreciate the English one and vice versa”. It was the year 2002 when I told my father that Rubinacci will build the “modern tailoring in the future”. And he replied “You will do the modern tailoring but you will not be sewing, because you have to have the tailors that sew for you so you can instruct them and have the outer eye that is the link between the customer and the tailor”
WHAT WAS THE OUTPUT OF THESE TWO PHILOSOPHIES?
A tailor is like a first woman, they build a suit on the basis of what they always been able to do. We have more than 46 tailors, 15 of them around 20/25 years old, others from 60 upwards. Think of a tailor who for 60 years has made the same Neapolitan jacket, very good, the best. A little boy arrives and tells him “listen, instead of sewing the shoulder like that, make it more English”. Rightly he looks at you and asks you why. Not because he does not know how to do it, but because his mind is focused on that model. I, like you, tried to understand how to change these algorithms and why they did this, and today we have to do this. In the ’60s,’ 70s, ’80s my father’s clients were Neapolitans, in the 90s foreigners came from Rome or Milan.
Today we have only 20% of customers who are Italian, 80 % are foreign. Inevitably I have to give them a product that is right for them and not for me. The Neapolitan jacket is not in the boat pocket, in the shirt-like shoulder, in the patched pocket or overlapping buttons. These are stylistic details. The Neapolitan jacket is in the construction: little shoulder, little Canvas, softness and width that transform imperfections into merits. Luca has not lost integrity, but I like listening to the customer to see what they want and, in a more difficult way, I have to make sure that is it something beautiful.
THERE WAS A TIME WHERE EVERY GOOD FAMILY MAN HAD AT LEAST A TAILORED DRESS IN THEIR WARDROBE. THIS TOWN HAS BEEN SLOWLY SUBSTITUTED BY THE PRET IN PORTER. HOW CAN WE GET THE YOUNG BACK TO TAILORS?
I think the time is already approaching it again. 80s fashion boom, ready-made clothes, take and take home, cheap, affordable and fashionable. Tailor began to fall and brands to rise. Years 2000/2005, brands raised prices considerably so you start paying not the product, but the label. Today you pay only for the label and the product is gone.
See Armani 80s and Armani today that is almost plastic; men are not stupid, they will pay for the brand if it gives them the product. Today we are close to collapsing, big brands are selling the label at a huge price so inevitably there is a return to tailoring. The customer says “if I have to pay a lot, I might as well go to the tailor and have it done in my style”.
This is why today, even you, who si writingì tailor-made journalism, you will notice that in the last 10 years, tailors have increased. Even the little tailors begin to think they can run a business. Try to pay more for quality than quantity. We, young people, look for them with means similar to those of social networks, but the social network is far from customized. Let me explain that, I do not think that by doing 10 videos I can “catch” some customers, because that customer remains a niche.
By doing all this planting, I will not have the fruits today but maybe I will in 10 years time. Because if the followers today are between 15 and 35 years old, in 10 years they will be between 25 and 45; I do not say all 170,000 but 10 of them will be successful and when they reach that point, they will remember me. I am pleased if people who this information, might also go to another tailor referencing that person who gave them a dream.
One day, if that dream can come true, they will realize it. My mentor, Sergio Loro Piana, told me “Luca, when they will understand what it means to have a tailored suit, they will understand that the price is also cheap” because one of our suits last a lifetime, because you can enlarge it, tighten it, do all that you want to it, instead of taking a product and throwing it away when it no longer fits or goes out of fashion.