Alessandro Siniscalchi

 
Siniscalchi is one of the world’s best-known shirtmakers. Based in Milan, it has made for celebrity and royalty alike since it was founded in 1948. It is also, however, bizarrely expensive.

We visited Alessandro (Ale) Siniscalchi at the workshop following our event at Pitti in January, where Ale was a guest. The company was founded by father, and Ale does all the patterns and most of the cutting today, with his lovely wife also involved in the business.
 

Siniscalchi embroidery shirtsSiniscalchi2

 
At its peak, Siniscalchi employed 14 shirmakers; today there are six, with one embroiderer working from home. The quality of that embroidery work is stunning, with incredibly fine renderings of family crests and personal symbolism (above).

The quality of other work, such as the hand-sewn buttonholes, is not as fine – I’ve seen better finishing at other shirtmakers, and they charge a lot less than €700 (Siniscalchi’s starting price for a shirt – there is no minimum). This is merely judging the making rather than the fit, of course, as I haven’t commissioned anything myself.
 

Siniscalchi shirts Milan

 
Elsewhere in the make, Siniscalchi attaches the collar and sleeve by hand, but everything else is by machine (save the attachment of the gussets). The collar normally has a floating lining, with occasionally a (stiff) fused lining when requested.

The shirtings on display are impressive: a stock of around 500 bolts upstairs and the same in the basement, all available for the customer to try – draping the cloth across themselves to get a better sense of colour.
 

Siniscalchi shirts

 
Ale also commissions his own cloth, and provides certificates of authenticity for them. Other makers, apparently, have been known to offer unlabelled bolts that turn out to be cheap Chinese versions of the English or Italian mills.

Siniscalchi has a few other idiosyncrasies, such as stiff but very thin collar bones, and inventions such as the shirt-cum-boxer-short, where the customer steps into the short before buttoning himself all the way up, like a onesie.

Not that convenient for going to the toilet, perhaps, but it does create a nice clean shirtfront in a more pleasant way than the tails that button under dress shirts, or ‘shirt suspenders’ that someone started pedalling again recently.
 

Siniscalchi shirt collars

 

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Roger

No picture of you in the shirt-cum-boxer-short?

Colonel Ivor Hardonne

I rather hope that you have commissioned one of the fully bespoke onesie. They are criminally under emphasised on most fine tailoring web sites.

Laurent K.

Great article, as always, Simon! Thank you!

However, I am wondering what could justify such prices, especially after you pointed out that the finishing isn’t as good as other cheaper shirtmakers. A desire to make their products very exclusive perhaps?

And, if you don’t mind me asking, could you tell us a bit more about the jacket (and not suit as I seem to see darker trousers in the last picture) you’re wearing?

Thank you,

Laurent

Gil

Nothing.

TRMay

Any picture of the shirt-boxer at all? Have recently commissioned one myself and now feel quite unoriginal.

Edward Halliwell

“Siniscalchi is one of the world’s best-known shirtmakers. ”
Really?

BespokeNYC

So, assuming the fit isn’t significantly better than other makers can achieve, why do people pay three times the price for a product that is no better (or maybe even a bit worse) than other Neapolitan shirt-makers? I understand this kind of thing happens all the time when luxury RTW brands charge higher prices to pay for marketing campaigns and fashion designers but it’s a little difficult to imagine this being the case for a small shirt-making workshop (unless that underpant shirt really is amazing and they’re marketing it all over Italy…)

Hughe Jardonne

Do they do shirts without the boxer short attachment? Or failing that, a crotchless boxer short, a la Ann Summers?

Paul

Enjoying the jokes I must say! For me, the actual price is irrelevant. When you buy bespoke anything, you’re not paying for a luxurious shop, their years of experience, their client list or the house’s long history. You can’t wear that stuff on your back.

The only question is quality of fit and make. The image of the firm is subjective. So, either you pay it or you don’t. I’ve heard people comparing Stephen Hitchcock to A&S on price. Such a pointless discussion! You can always find someone cheaper and someone dearer….

Frank

Interesting article, thank you. Simon, could you please elaborate on the following: “Other makers, apparently, have been known to offer unlabelled bolts that turn out to be cheap Chinese versions of the English or Italian mills.” What makers are we talking about and why “apparently”?

Paul Lux

I cannot help but wonder how does one do to actually visit the throne with the shirt-cum-boxer-short. Oh dear, that sure must not be an easy task.
It’s even more bespoke than normal shirts as one needs to take into account one’s digestive habits.

Takis

Could you please a milan base shirtmaker that is more afordable than Siniscalchi? Would be lovely. So difficult to judge if I just check out different shops.

Anonymous

I wonder how the craft and handiwork of Finollo compares to that of Siniscalchi, and more to the point, how both stack up in comparison to other shirtmakers, both in Italy and beyond.

Both seem to be unduly expensive, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. At the end of the day, it is a shirt which while bespoke, is not THAT different to any other bespoke maker’s. The materials will roughly be the same across the board, and the level of handwork in the commissions won’t necessarily equate to a better product…

David Bresch

Simon I’m planning a trip to Milan. Besides Siniscalchi I have hear of/found Anna Camiceria Dal 1960, Camiceria Barone, Camiceria Ambrosiana, and Camiceria Alesandra. Do you know any of these?

Steven Siniscalchi

Everything I’ve read indicates that your company is Italy (Milan) based. Yet when I joined the mailing list, a UK location was indicated. Did I join the SINISCALCHI mailing list or some other company? Grazie!

RTA

I’m staying with an aristocratic friend and he has a closet full of Siniscalchi shirts. He tells me that girlfriends borrowing the button-under-the-crotch shirts, find them almost as much fun as the previous night’s activities. So, the €700 price-tag becomes more justifiable I suppose 🙂

Silver Lamb

Alessandro is one of the most wonderful people on earth, generous, talented, family man, honest, and the best shirtmaker I’ve ever used(and there have been quite a few until I found and stayed for life with Siniscalchi!