In Florence last month I made time to go and see Simone Abbarchi and his business partner Gianluca Cocchetti.
Simone started making shirts under his own name 20 years ago and he and Gianluca now have a fairly spacious shopfront tucked away on Borgo Santissimi Apostoli, which is comprehensively stocked with an extensive range of cloth books. Also, apologies for the quality of some of the images. There isn’t a great deal of natural light in parts of the showroom and we struggled to get enough light into a number of images.
Simone is regarded by many as one of the best value for money shirt makers in Italy, thanks largely to a focus on making shirts which fit well but eschew much of the handwork found with other Italian shirt makers.
I caught up with Tommaso Melani of Sartoria Vestrucci shortly after (article on that meeting will be up in the next few weeks) and he commented that Simone has been making shirts for him for years and that he’s always found them to be great value for money.
In essence, Simone’s shirts are machine made, with handwork typically found only in the hand-sewn buttons. This brings down the time required to produce each shirt and, as such, lowers the cost. It also allows greater volume to be achieved, with Simone, Gianluca and their team making between 3000-4000 shirts annually in a small factory with 4 staff on the outskirts of Florence.
They offer both bespoke and made-to-measure (MTM) with MTM making up the bulk of the requests from clients.
Made to measure pricing ranges from 150-180Euro, with bespoke starting at 180Euro and increasing to around 220Euro for cloths from Canclini and in excess of 250Euro for anything from David and John Anderson. I’d avoid anything in “The Diamonds” range from David and John Anderson though. Some readers will remember it from my Anna Matuozzo shirt and whilst it’s light and airy, it’s paper thin and you’ll need a bulldozer to remove any creases. No thanks.
For a negligible price difference, having a bespoke shirt made makes sense to me. It gives the opportunity to have 2 fittings and a pattern is cut specifically to your measurements, rather than MTM where a pre-existing pattern altered to take in to account several or your measurements.
I went through my usual cloth choosing exercise (i.e. take too long, look at everything, then pick something I saw in the first book anyway). I ended up choosing the cloth Simone and Gianluca make their trial shirts from; a fairly simple narrow stripe in a blue and white oxford weave from Thomas Mason. The oxford weave gives some texture, allowing it to wear well with jeans, but the classic stripe will also wear well with navy, grey and even brown suits. I’ve increasingly moved away from finer textures in the last couple of years, preferring the more relaxed look and feel of more textured clothes (i.e. tailored jeans, suede shoes, slubby silks in ties etc).
Simone typically makes his shirts with a fused collar and cuffs (I still can’t get my head around why Italians prefer this). I’ve never liked the thought of glue being used in a shirt and I prefer the softer look and feel of a light interlining, so we went with floating lining to be used at these points.
We’re going with a cutaway collar, curved barrel cuffs with 2 buttons and 3 pleats, as well as no front placket in order to keep the front of the shirt nice and clean. Nothing too complicated, just a clean simple shirt with a small amount of texture an pattern.
I’ll have the articles of the fittings up in the next few weeks.