The bespoke shirt which Anna (and Simona) Matuozzo made for me arrived a little while ago, after we had the initial meeting late last year. I wanted to get a good few wears in, to allow it to settle and let me form an opinion.
The quality of the finished shirt is superb and the hand sewn areas which we chose to put in a few key places have been finished with a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. We chose only to hand sew the more necessary areas, primarily those which benefit from the natural flexibility and softness which come at points experiencing frequent movement or close contact with the skin. Namely, the arm scye (where the shoulder and upper chest meet the sleeve), the collar surrounding the top button and the shoulder seem (running along the collarbone), as well as some strengthening in the form of hand sewn bar tacks at the sleeve placket and hem at the base of the side seam join.
The hand stitching along the shoulder and around the collar has been raised and uses a slightly heavier cotton. It’s a subtle touch which is only seen up close and, even then, it remains understated. It’s a quiet nod to bespoke which will only be noticed by those who know what they’re looking at.
All buttons and button holes have been hand-sewn, a time consuming task but one I appreciate. The more time I spend with tailors, the more I value their unique signatures which come in the form of hand sewing. It will, however, have a positive impact on the strength of the buttons and button holes.
Anna hand sewed her initials and my signature “fish” along the front hem line which is something I love looking at every time I take the shirt out of the wardrobe.
The only issue I’ve experienced with the shirt has been the need to make some small changes to the fit, which probably would have been addressed had we had time for another fitting. I hadn’t had enough time to have a first fitting in Naples, (Anna, Simona and Antonella were already on holidays when I was there, but there were kind enough to come in and open their camiceria for me). Because of this, the couple of adjustments which would usually be made at a first fitting weren’t possible. The trial shirt we used in Naples has helped and it’s a credit to Anna that the fit was as good as it is without a formal fitting. The adjustments which need to be made are small, such as widening the button position on my left cuff to accommodate my watch (which I wasn’t wearing at the time), a slight lengthening of the sleeves (which Anna has left enough cloth for) and cutting the collar away at a more aggressive angle (which I’m not too bothered about anyway). I know I could send the shirt back to Anna and she would be happy to make the changes, but given the simple nature of these changes, I can do most of it myself. The only change which is unable to really be changed is the width through the shoulders – it’s too narrow and pulls through the neck when leaning forward – again, had I given Anna time for a proper fitting, this likely wouldn’t have occurred.
The only other thing I should have requested, but forgot to, was to have the cuffs and collar unfused. They’re fused on this shirt (a cotton interlining is glued to one side of the cotton to add structure), which isn’t uncommon. An unfused cuff or collar has the interlining sewn in around the perimetre (as I had done on my bespoke shirt from JH Cutler), allowing the interlining to float freely inside, which I prefer as it gives some structure while remaining soft and feels more natural.
In regards to the cloth, for the love of god, don’t choose the same cloth as I did (“The Diamonds” from David and John Anderson). Its light weight and high thread count makes it feel more like silk than cotton (not a bad thing), and it doesn’t feel flimsy, but it’s so fine that just about anything can put a hole through it. It had its first run in with a bra hook in the wash (lesson learned – wash your shirts separately) causing a small tear in the cloth, which isn’t anything really worth worrying about, but it irons like a nightmare and I cannot, for the life of me, get all the creases out after washing it. I would have been much better off choosing a more standard cotton and avoiding all these issues. A more basic cotton wouldn’t feel that different anyway.
Above all of this, though, what stands about the experience with Anna, Simona and Antonella is their concern for their clients by doing everything they can to make the bespoke process an enjoyable one. There is a genuine joy and care in their work which makes you feel instantly welcome and cared for. The more time I spend with tailors and craftsmen around the world, the more I come to appreciate that the very best experiences come from those who place as much importance on the fit and finished product as they do on their customers experience throughout the process.