Italian master tailors. Three thousand luxury fabrics. There are many ways to consume fashion, but doing it through bespoke and personalized clothing is by far the most exquisite and exclusive.
Twice a year, Little Red, a luxury fashion boutique in Nairobi, hosts bespoke events, inviting master tailors from abroad to Kenya to take customers’ measurements for suits, shirts and jackets in which they specialize. The tailors then return to Europe to cut and sew the items before sending them back to the country as finished goods.
This year’s edition was held at The Social House Nairobi and featured four master tailors representing different Italian fashion houses.
“We do this to introduce tailors and their craft to our discerning client; customers who like to be dressed as they want,” says Karim Fazal, the event organizer. Comics Life.
It is a one-of-a-kind event that epitomizes luxury fashion where Little Red also exhibits some of its designer clothing collections, handbags, accessories, fragrances and footwear.
This family-owned boutique sells ready-to-wear, tailored and made-to-measure outfits from international brands such as Michael Kors, Principe D’Eleganza, Sannino Valentino for Women and Luisa Spagnoli.
Like family-run premium whiskey brands that run distilleries from generation to generation, most bespoke tailoring businesses around the world are small businesses that pass their craftsmanship down the line to maintain exclusivity. and uniqueness.
This is the case of Sanninno, a small family shirt shop in Naples, founded just over 30 years ago. Its marketing director, Gennaro Sannino, explains that his brother Alessio Sannino and his father are in charge of the process of making the shirts.
“They supervise our tailors to acquire fabrics from different factories in Italy and sew them.”
Tailor-made is the attention paid to the smallest details. It’s also about finesse and giving a customer value for every coin spent.
To emphasize how exclusive the process is, Enrico Manzo, a master tailor from Principe D’Eleganza, a luxury suiting brand in Naples, Italy, says his company only makes about 300 suits a year for its clients. in the world.
“We make a jacket that is like a second skin. Wearing this type of costume is the fun of life,” says Manzo. He is the third generation of tailors in his family.
Over the years, bespoke practice has grown in popularity in Kenya, with more clients participating in the exercise. Karim notes: “A lot of people are not just curious about the event. They also want to try on the outfits.
But how does the bespoke process work?
“When a client comes to see us, we start by establishing their desires and tastes. We take approximately 10 different measurements of the client’s body. Subsequently, the process of selecting fabrics, which range from basic to luxurious and exclusive from different spinning mills, begins. There are many styles of shirts and we must meet each of the customer’s expectations.
There are thousands of fabrics to choose from and Sannino has access to nearly 3,000 of them.
He explains, “The final step is sorting out the style details for each shirt, from collar style to cuff style, front and back. There are almost 15 style details for the shirts.”
Finally, the tailors start sewing the shirts, with a delivery time of four to five weeks. He adds: “Making shirts with all these specifications is a multi-layered process that takes time, patience and skill.”
Manzo maintains that even with thousands of luxury fabrics, the difference is in the tailoring of a garment.
“A hand-sewn garment is different from a machine-sewn garment. Most people don’t notice the difference. I take measurements, cut the costumes and sew them,” he says and adds that the process is an intimate journey.
Customers have the freedom to choose stitch type, fabric and buttons. Manzo says: “Bespoke is about building your style with the tailor to help them produce a garment that gives you elegance.
On the target clientele, Sannino explains: “We are targeting the discerning gentleman. A person looking for unique, personalized items from start to finish. This person is educated on fabrics, stitching and quality.
Contrary to popular belief that these clothing items target the expatriate community, Karim notes that Kenyans are their biggest consumers.
Every bespoke market in the world, he says, is defined by a different set of factors. In Kenya, the savvy wearer is driven by color preferences while his Jamaican counterpart focuses on shirt tailoring. In North America, customers are opting for shirts that get what they pay for.
Sannino notes that men are sometimes “boring when it comes to color,” mostly opting for navy and brown when dozens of other options exist. “We should be bolder with colors and try different shades instead of just the common colors,” he says.
That the Kenyan market is hungry for fashion information is Manzo’s verdict and that market education is necessary to satisfy the curiosity of potential customers.
“Kenyans are like Neapolitans. They trust each other. The bespoke suit market in Kenya is booming. Some Kenyans travel a lot and are well versed in personalized fashion.”
For this tailor and others who sell made-to-measure items, this trend can only mean one thing: better business prospects.