In the context of men’s apparel, Rome and Naples are famous for their tailors and their handmade suits. Milan, on the other hand, is most closely associated with Armani, Prada, and Versace. “When we speak about Milan, we think about designers, not tailors,” says Luca Trabaldo Togna, whose family owns one of Italy’s most prestigious textile manufacturing firms. However, he notes, to focus only on the designers is to overlook Milan’s hand-tailoring tradition, which was perpetuated in the 1970s and ’80s by St. Andrews, the brand that Trabaldo Togna acquired last year and will reintroduce to the United States this spring. In addition to handmade suits, the new collection will feature St. Andrews’ first offering of handmade sportswear, shirts, and ties, all produced in the company’s Pesaro, Italy, factory, as well as bespoke footwear by Milanese shoemaker Riccardo Freccia Bestetti.
The new St. Andrews suits, like the originals, will look similar to those made on Savile Row. When Dario Zaffagni founded the firm in 1968—and named it after the Milanese restaurant where he conceived the first collection—his designs had the sculpted waist and high, rolled shoulders characteristic of the English suits. However, by loosening or often eliminating the linings, Zaffagni gave his suits a more relaxed fit.
St. Andrews suits were fixtures in Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue before Italian clothier Cantarelli acquired and retooled the brand in 1992 and, subsequently, stopped selling it in America. “They had a Ferrari, but they put in a designer from Fiat,” says Trabaldo Togna, noting that St. Andrews survived primarily because it formed partnerships with Ralph Lauren Purple Label and Stefano Ricci, for which it continues to produce suits.
In its latest incarnation, St. Andrews will make all of its clothes almost entirely by hand, as it did when Zaffagni was in charge, and, as one would expect given Trabaldo Togna’s family business, materials will play an essential role in the new collection. For suits, Trabaldo Togna uses only Estrato fabrics, which comprise lightweight wools, cashmeres, and other natural cloths with inherent stretch qualities. The 167-year-old Trabaldo Togna textile mill in Biella developed a spinning, steaming, and finishing process that boosts the elasticity of natural raw fibers without adding synthetic materials. Trabaldo Togna maintains that St. Andrews’ Milanese tailors are the only ones producing handmade suits with Estrato fabrics.
By revitalizing St. Andrews, Trabaldo Togna hopes to fill a void in Italian menswear: “Today the top brands are represented by Kiton in Naples and Brioni in Rome, but the Milanese taste is missing,” he says. “This is something I really wanted to change.”