This is Giovanni Barberis Organista, tailor to the Vitale Barberis Canonico family. The two families are only distantly related (the last two names are both surnames, indicating a split at some point). More importantly, Giovanni’s family have made suits for the VBC family for three generations.

Giovanni has been working as a tailor since 1955. His grandfather started the tradition when he became a tailor in 1875. “It’s wonderful to that living memory, to have worked with someone who made suits in the 19th century,” he says.

Today, Giovanni is semi-retired, making around three suits a week with his wife for help. He trained in Turin, though he says he “should have gone to Savile Row 60 years ago to train with the best, as they were then”.

Giovanni has a collection of old artifacts, including the canvas you can see below, which dates from the end of the 19thcentury. It was for a morning coat – it slims down noticeably towards the bottom. As ever with artifacts like this, the diminutive size is striking.

Giovanni also has a great collection of magazines going back to 1913. Below you can see some of his collection of ‘Le Stile Maschile’, an old Italian series. More on those at a later date.

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A good read SImon, in relation to your comment “the diminutive size is striking.” is that a more general comment on the weight/height of 19th century males?


Naturally. Italian men of the previous generations were all small. My grandfather was not over 5’6″. American nutrition did wonders. I’m 6′.


Three suits a week seems like a *lot* of work, especially for a semi-reited man. 40 hours * 3 suits = 120 hours a week?!


Maybe he works on three suits per week, which means he needs to stop and wait for the fitting. I don’t think that a costumer will desire to visit his tailor 3/4 times in the same week 😉


Hello Simon, Wonderful feature on Giovanni. His work is gorgeous. Simply masterful. Would be amazing to have him tailor a suit for me. Perhaps you can provide his contact information. Sincere regards, Mark


Much appreciated. Thank you, Simon.