Art masquerading as trousers. This sums up the finished product from Salva’ and it hints at the essence of true bespoke tailoring and perhaps any worthwhile pursuit in life: Creating something beautiful from the ordinary, not through necessity, but from passion and the simple dedication to excellence in a field.
I’ve divided this article under two headings “Trousers” and “Experience” as they’re best addressed separately.
Famously, where a pair of Ambrosi trousers will differ from most other bespoke makers is in the detail and amount of hand stitching. The handwork which goes into a pair of trousers is beyond that of most other tailors. Bar-tacks sit at every stress point of the cloth, pick (raised) stitching runs along the entire length of the outer seems as well as at several other points to the internal and external parts of the trousers, certain buttons and button holes are hidden from view until you know where to look…. detail and some artistic flair. Much of the detail is functional, such as the hidden buttons which have been sewn into the cuffs to allow them to be opened and cleared of dust (which accumulates a lot more than you’d think) and this, along with the prolific use of bar-tacks and a button fly is somewhat of an Ambrosi signature.
In addition to the above, Ambrosi are known for a fairly unique cut and you can generally spot someone wearing Ambrosi trousers if you know what to look for. Higher on the waist, tapering at the ankle and cuffed. A very Italian aesthetic. Where other tailors are happy to cut trousers however a customer likes, Ambrosi are more likely to offer flexibility in small areas (like with my trousers, which had slightly shallower cuffs. A wider leg or less tapered silhouette wouldn’t be an issue either), however the overall aesthetic will always tend to remain largely “Ambrosi”.
The fit is fairly good, which had looked likely, given that the first fitting was quite accurate. However some alterations do need to be made (which would have been achieved had we had a second fitting, but my schedule ruined that. Not Salva’s fault. Changes that will eventually be made include the need to raise the waist slightly (you’ll see in the article of the first fitting that the waist is slightly higher, but the finished pair sit lower) lengthening the cuffs by a centimetre and raising the rear bias (raising the back half of the trousers into the waistband, so the trousers fall in a clean line over the back of my legs (they currently break slightly over the back of my calf). Additionally, and as some readers have pointed out, the pleats stay open when I’m standing naturally and they should be closed, only opening when sitting down The hip seams will need to be opened to close the pleats properly.
The details which are missing, which were supposed to have been included, are the fish shaped buttonhole which I have on all my bespoke commissions (it wasn’t sewn in to the waistband closure, instead, a standard button hole was made) and a wider waistband.
The checks have been matched quite well, but not along the inner leg and are slightly off on the outer leg. No-one else will likely notice it, but I can see it.
The “Shark Skin” cloth from Vitale Barberis Canonico has made up beautifully. It’s light, breathable and the simple check pattern balances subtlety with some personality. It’s an ideal summer cloth.
I wanted to include this separately as there have been issues along the way. Namely, the delay. The trousers were expected to be delivered in September last year. Their arrival last week puts them at around 10 months past that date. The frustration came largely from not hearing back from emails which I’d sent to ask for updates once the September time frame had well and truly passed by. Over the years Salva’ has had some well published feedback, online, from others who have had to wait excessive periods of time for trousers, some saying they never received them at all. Salva had assured me, when we caught up in Naples, that this was a thing of the past, so it was a bit of a shame to have had emails go unanswered for months at a time, not to mention the literally dozens of emails I received from readers asking me where the trousers were and suggesting I had been taken advantage of.
It got to a point where I had my doubts if I would ever see them, but I was quietly confident that they would eventually arrive. This was largely due to the fact that I genuinely really like Salva, coupled with the fact that he twice went out of his way to open the atelier for me when he was already on holidays, spent time showing me how he sewed his bar-tacks (I wanted to see if they were any different to how I learned to make them – they were) and when he did eventually reply to my emails, they seemed sincerely apologetic. So from my experience, the issue exists mainly in the back end of running the business and a breakdown in the chain of production and communication, rather than anything malicious or deceitful. It is not, as many have suggested, what to expect when dealing with Italian tailors. It’s unfair to categorize Italians in this way, as every other experience I have had with an Italian crafts-person has been outstanding (namely Nino Corvato, Marco Finardi and Anna Matuozzo).
For anyone who would have concerns about commissioning trousers through Salva’, I’d suggest not to worry too much, though if you want to eliminate the risk, then working with another tailor may be a better option for you. It seems that in recent times the delivery issue has improved (though it hasn’t been eliminated) and my experience is more of the exception rather than the rule. For peace of mind I’d recommend going through any of his trunk shows around the world, namely with the team at the Armoury, Ethan at Brycelands Co, or Drake’s who have played a big role in bringing Ambrosi to a global audience. Dealing with businesses like the Armoury is a more reliable process and you can expect that you’ll receive your trousers as expected and on time. Salva travels prolifically and is back and forth across the globe several times a year.
It’s my hope that having written about the couple of negatives which cropped up won’t affect my relationship with Salva, as it’s one I value, but it’s important to me that I write honestly about each experience.
Overall, I’m happy with the finished trousers, they are well cut, well made and a pleasure to wear…. they just took a little while to get here and as much as I would have liked to have been wearing them since last year, I’d say the wait hasn’t been a waste.