Wardrobe: Suit Smarts
Having spent nearly three decades establishing itself among the top manufacturers of machine-made suits, Pal Zileri began testing its mettle against the best hand-tailored clothing makers seven years ago when it introduced its Sartoriale collection. The venture initially involved procuring the finest Super wool, guanaco, and vicuña from the top fabric mills of Italy and England and creating a distinctive three-button suit model. Pal Zileri tailors, after studying menswear designs from the 1930s and 1940s, distinguished the Sartoriale suit with unusual details that included a boutonniere stay under the lapel and reinforced waistbands and hand-sewn belt loops on trousers, which featured cuffs that could be unbuttoned to facilitate cleaning.
What began simply as an experiment has evolved into a complete Sartoriale collection. Two years ago, Pal Zileri launched its first made-to-measure program, which enables clients to customize any Sartoriale suit, blazer, or topcoat by selecting fabrics and details, such as functioning buttonholes on the sleeves. This fall, the company introduced a Sartoriale formal wear collection called After Five that addresses the black-tie concept in a more relaxed fashion. These suits, classic tuxedos, and topcoats forgo the interior linings and shoulder padding of traditional evening wear, and some of the jackets are constructed like shirts so they can be worn with or without neckties. At the other end of the fashion spectrum, the brand has introduced its first collection of tailored sportswear—including casual slacks, blouson jackets, and unconstructed shirt jackets—all made by hand.
Pal Zileri’s diversification mirrors the efforts of other suitmakers that have branched out from tailored clothing to offer complete wardrobes. Sartoriale, however, offers the advantage of coordinating pieces both stylistically and in terms of color palettes with Pal Zileri’s two less-expensive collections, White Label and Lab. “We wanted to experiment with mixing our Sartoriale suits and sport coats with knitwear and sportswear from our other collections, because we think this is the way men really dress today,” explains Manuela Miola, head of Pal Zileri’s worldwide communications and marketing. She adds that with the exception of a few key pieces such as dress trousers and outerwear, “A man doesn’t need everything in his wardrobe, especially his more casual clothing, to be expensive and handmade. But he still wants it all to relate in some way.”
Pal Zileri plans further expansion of the Sartoriale label. “In the next six months we’ll be launching a fragrance,” says Miola, noting that the company also is preparing lines of watches and eyewear. “We are essentially suitmakers, so those are new businesses we will have to learn,” she adds. “But, of course, we have done this kind of experimenting before.”
Sartoriale by Pal Zileri