Although Kiton made its name producing completely handmade suits in an old-world Neapolitan manner, when the company expanded into dress and sport shirts more than a decade ago it did so without losing sight of its sartorial reputation. Each of these ultrafine shirts, all made from the finest thread-count cottons, requires six hours of labor and more than 100 sewing operations, including 17 distinctive hand-sewing applications. “Notice how there is no lining in the shirt placket, only folded fabric,” explains Kiton’s shirt manager Sebastiano Borrelli, a cousin of Fabio Borrelli, whose family has, until recently, been making shirts in Naples for nearly a century under its own name. Borrelli’s paternal grandmother, Anna Borrelli, is considered the inventor of the three-sided crow’s foot stitch that every Neapolitan shirtmaker, including Kiton, has since adopted as its own. The distinctive stitch is one of many defining details that characterize a shirt as handmade, since no machine can crisscross a button. Among the other hand-sewn details on a typical Kiton shirt, which is made in the company’s own factory adjacent to its suit-making operation, are embroidered buttonholes and handkerchief-rolled and stitched edges. The collar on the shirt is also particularly noteworthy for its inside panel of oxford cotton to prevent neck irritation and shrinkage. One more stylistic flourish: Kiton always leaves one centimeter of thread behind the button so when it begins to disappear, hopefully after years of wear, the shirt’s owner can tell when his button is about to fall off.
Kiton uses only undyed mother-of-pearl buttons as a signature of its handmade shirts, which also feature the Neapolitan clothier’s distinctive sheered sleeve where the sleeve meets the shoulder.