This is the first in a series of posts about producers I met in Pitti and Florence more generally.
Maffeis is part of a family of companies around Bergamo, in northern Italy. Another is Bresciani socks, which of course I’ve visited and written about before. Both companies were founded after the war and are now run by the second generation – Massimiliano Bresciani, who was launching his new underwear at Pitti, and Paulo Maffeis. Both founders are still around and have a particular role in quality control at the factories.
Maffeis employs around 32 people, all making shirts to a range of qualities. Every shirt is hand cut, but the amount of hand stitching varies. That amount is largely chosen by the shop that chooses to stock the shirts – Maffeis is sold in many stores in Belgium, Holland, France and Italy under its own brand, and by several UK brands under their label.
Customers that opt for made to measure in these stores can also pick the amount of hand stitching they want. You can just have hand-sewn buttonholes, what I would call the functional hand stitching (collar, sleevehead) or everything. The price will range from about £200 to £300 with that choice of handwork.
The amount of detail offered to made-to-measure customers is huge. There is no strict bespoke service, with an individual pattern, but things like the collar stand are stated in centimetres and can be adjusted to any height. Like many Italian bespoke shirts, the collar stand is also set to be smaller at the back and larger at the front, to stop the front of the collar from collapsing.
Two little innovations caught my eye too. One was a small section of rougher cotton in the middle of the collar (above) which is intended to stop the tie from slipping and was invented by the founder, Emanuele. Another is the Maffeis boxer shorts (below), which incorporate a small cotton lining at the front to provide a little of the support you get with a brief. I don’t wear boxers, but this solves one of my problems with doing so.
Maffeis makes great shirts and some nice knitted products – it recently rescued a local knitting company from bankruptcy and now offers cashmere shirt-jackets.