Why Men Should Get Tailored Suits
Gianluca Rubino, master tailor at Isaia, tells us why a suit makes a man and what requests from clients really make him happy
Perhaps it was the language barrier, but Gianluca Rubino appeared as a reserved man in an incongruously big frame, uttering a few simple English words only when prompted. Or, was he upset? Mildly jet-lagged but looking as dashing as ever for the interview, the Isaia tailor said he just passed his 39th birthday on a flight from Italy to Hong Kong, and his first gift was the unwelcoming experience of a lost luggage, which explains the sneakers and jeans. “Please excuse the denim, okay?” joked Enzo Magaraci, Isaia’s director of sales in Europe and Asia, who doubled as the tailor’s interpreter the afternoon we met at Lane Crawford IFC. “Normally, Rubino would be in a perfect suit and leather shoes.”
Rubino gave out a big laugh when asked how many suits he owns. “One hundred suits,” he replied with a delicious Italian accent. “I will need another house [for them].” So, no, Rubino was clearly not upset, and he has a sense of humour, too. He was merely being a tailor, allowing Magaraci to do the talking – for he excels not in talking, but in sewing and taking measurements.
Rubino became more confident as we talked, partly because he had one of his favourite props – Isaia. Above his jeans, the Italian tailor was wearing a two-button, checkered Isaia Cortina sport coat, a white shirt and a flattering red tie with a sprinkle of white dots, making him everything an Isaia man should look like – modern, confident and very different. He, of course, made the coat himself.
The outfit doesn’t bear the slick, slim-fit cutting found in most other designer brands, yet it looks comfortably on trend – its multi-hued fabric puts a normal navy or gray suit to shame. But besides the fabric, I was told that it is the details that really do the magic.
Cortina means “small” in Italian, Magaraci explained. The length of the sport coat is therefore shortened, with a modern cut and no shoulder pads, but is slightly wrinkled around the shoulders. To add a touch of intricacy, there’s a 9mm stitching along the lapel and down the centre back, as well as the understated polka-dot inseam under the lapel. It matches and explains Rubino’s choice of a fiery red tie.
Every season, Magaraci said, Isaia’s CEO Gianluca Isaia gives the creative team a new direction, adding certain details and refining the cuts to match the ever-changing fashion trends. The inseam polka dots are part of the new direction for this season.
In addition, it is the Neapolitan tailoring heritage in Isaia that renders the brand so special. “Isaia has been around since the 1920s and the Neapolitan tailoring [that Isaia adopts] is the most important cut in Italy; [it is] more updated than other cuts, and definitely better than the English classic cut,” claimed Magaraci, emphatically stretching the word “definitely”. Rubino nodded in agreement, adding that he only wears Isaia, for that matter.
“A good suit definitely makes a man, yes,” Magaraci translated. “A good suit means a well-done cut, good manufacturing, very good fabric and high quality – this kind of characteristics make a man feel very comfortable the whole day. Whether you’re steeping out for coffee, having a business lunch or going to a party with your partner. You’re always [in your] top performance.” Perhaps, also when you’re doing an interview in a foreign land.
But sadly, not everyone boasts 20-years of experience in the field of tailoring like Rubino does. Hence not everyone has the eye to pick out the nuances between a tailored and standard suit, according to Rubino, while many also fail to understand two basic principles: double-breasted suits must always be buttoned up completely, and only the middle button should be done up when wearing a three-button suit.
With that, Rubino said when a customer goes to him with particular requests to show that he understands the art of tailoring, to show that they’re “speaking the same language”, it really makes his day.
“I’m happy when [the customer] chooses a fabric that will match his shirts, showing that he has good tastes, or when he asks for things like wrinkles on the shoulder,” said Rubino. “Not a lot of people notice that feature. But an Isaia man is always convincing on the stage because he’s obsessed with good tastes, because he likes to play with contrasts and styles."
To me, an Isaia man is one who dresses to impress even in jeans and sneakers.