This is the first in what will be a series on artisanal workshops in Naples - following my trip there with Jamie a couple of weeks ago.
One of the loveliest we visited was the Cerrato atelier, which is on the first floor of an building in the Spanish Quarter of town.
The Spanish Quarter, although in the centre of Naples, is one of the oldest and poorest. It is here that you are most likely to here the Neapolitan dialect, and in these streets - running up onto the hill from Via Toledo - that you are still best avoiding late at night.
The Cerrato family house, where Marco was born, is halfway up one of these streets. The atelier is two streets over. And Marco's house today is three streets beyond that. This is still a community, in the middle of a modern city.
The door to the building is huge, wooden, designed originally for horses and cart. A small cutaway in it allows for pedestrians to step through.
The inner courtyard is dark and, frankly, very dirty. But it breathes history, and the broad stone steps up to the first floor are cool and shadowy.
The atelier itself comprises two rooms: one workshop, one office/cutting room.
In the workshop are Marco's mother, his father, his wife and his brother. (Or rather, one of his brothers - the other, Massimo, lives in London and does fittings there.)
Historically, there have been a handful of trouser workshops like this in Naples (the other big ones being Mola and Ambrosi) working nearly exclusively for tailors. Those tailors would take measurements and sometimes cut, before handing the work to the trouser workshop.
But in recent years the trouser makers have begun to establish their own brands, and serve their own customers. Ambrosi was the trailblazer there, but Cerrato also began a few years ago and now nearly half of their business is retail.
"It's important to maintain a balance, but I do like working directly with customers," says Marco. "It's more personal and more satisfying. Those customers also appreciate a higher level of handwork, or have more interesting design ideas."
He estimates that work for tailors (four, currently) can produce about 115 pairs a week. But the extra work often required for end customers means that number is more like 80 week.
Those trousers aren't all being made by the family in the workshop - about 17 people work outside, from home. They tend to do the finishing work, such as the pick stitching, bar tacks and buttonholes.
This set up used to be common in many parts of Europe, and there are still remnants of it in the UK or France (for hand rolling of handkerchiefs, for example). But the system remains in Naples, where the lack of industrialisation left many crafts intact.
The Cerrato team can do all the same handwork and detailing as any other trouser maker. There is little real difference between makers there.
Quality tends to come down to how thoroughly and precisely it is done - do buttons fall off, is the stitching so loose that lining starts to come away.
And there are occasional making points - for example, if a trouser maker is asked to do a waistband that is wider than the standard, most tend to use the same, narrow lining inside, meaning the waistband will buckle slightly.
Marco, however, cuts an entirely new lining in that case, from a full roll of canvas (below).
Interestingly, Marco also says that recently customers have been asking for narrower and narrower waistbands, against the trend of recent years.
"These things all come round in cycles," he says. "If you've been doing this for long enough you've seen everything - every type of buckle or side adjustor, every width and shape."
His current favourite is the closed or 'kissing' pleat, as seen on his trousers below.
When it comes to cutting, there are some small differences in style. 'Handwriting', as Marco puts it.
"I tend to prefer a little more room around the top, the seat," says Marco. "I hate it when the cloth pulls there. And then I would narrower the leg slightly more sharply below the knee."
You can see an example of Marco's work in the cotton trousers he made me here.
Marco still only travels to London, although is considering New York. Trouser start at £600.
Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man
Thank you for another great write-up Simon.
Could you please provide details to contact Cerrato? And do they accept visits to the Cerrato atelier in Naples?
And yes, they do.
Nice article, Simon.
I was there last week for a fitting of three pairs of trousers. I had made a trial pair back in April and the fit was amazing after two fittings Marco insisted to do in the same day (Saturday).
Lovely and hard-working family the Cerrato’s.
I am a client of Pasquale Mola for ten years already. As far as I know Cerrato is his nephew
Marco is indeed, yes
Very well written article .
As someone due to visit Naples soon you conjure up the spirit of the place really well .
On a broader point are these Italian based articles due to the readership of the blogs or to expose the quality of the tailoring ?.
This is not a criticism but are not your Naples blogs beyond the reach of many of your readership?
Additionally we would live to see you use regional tailors north of Savile Row . If for no other reason then to get some perspective .
Thanks. Most of the Neapolitans I write about now travel to London, so it’s still accessible to most of the readership.
And yes, I mean to on the regionals
A bit of an off-topic question if I may: What do you think of Prince William’s current wardrobe, as for example shown on his recent Germany trip (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4717362/Duke-Duchess-Cambridge-board-train-Hamburg.html)?
His suits are supposedly made by Gieves and Hawkes, by these do not look like something David T would cut?
Well, it may not be bespoke of course, but Davide may well cut a different shape for him. I’ll check.
Overall his dress is pretty solid, though there are some obvious issues with the shirt collar (missing a stay?), the shirt cuffs missing, and perhaps an over-small knot.
Thanks Simon. Would be very interesting to know if Davide T cut this. Would go to show he’s quite flexible in cutting style. I think Davide T also trained under Russell H at Kashkets?
But back to PW: How do you think his dress compares to his father, or to the DoW?
Yes he did, though that was a long time ago.
Not much of a comparison with either I’m afraid. It’s solid and simple, but there’s not much distinct or interesting going on.
As for PW his dress does look a bit more “unkempt” than his predecessors (missing collar stay, pressing etc). But that may be due to the, reportedly, lack of a valet (certainly in the traditional sense of PoW etc). Price of being “modern” I suppose.
Indeed. Just checked by the way and they are Gieves but not bespoke. Cheers
That is sad to hear Simon. Second in line to the throne no longer wears bespoke? That is a first.
Too much focus on things that are not as important as you may think, I’m afraid!
Charles moved into Turnbull MTM at the height of Diana’s influence,
But then moved back…
When she wasn’t looking…
It looks like it may be. There is pattern matching on both the breast and the hip pockets.
I have just had 4 pair of linen trousers made by Marco and they are just beautiful. I’d have no hesitation in recommending him. I also suggest visiting him at his atelier in Naples – an beautiful quarter and a lovely space. Marco speaks a English and is quite a character. If you are a customer of Solito, you can visit both as they are 12 minutes from each other.
They made previously a pair of trouser for you so they have all your measurments. How many fittings you will need afterwards for additional trousers. Did you try some shorts from them as well.
Just one. And no, I haven’t
Do you ever envision refining your trouser fit to the point that with a remote tailor, like Marco, you would be comfortable ordering a pair remotely and taking delivery without a fitting?
Yes, although I’d always want to still be able to check in occasionally – every six months perhaps.
I have one more question the tailors in Napoli they accept credit cards or is everything just cash.
Great content again love. Can feel the culture through the post.
Does Marco accept apprenticeship? Or give training? Thanks
Not generally, but always worth asking
Who do you recommend in (or visiting) New York for trousers in the $300-650 range? I prefer double-pleat high-rise fishtail trousers with a continuous waistband and quite a bit of room.
Because artisans may have different house styles for trousers, I would really appreciate your recommendation on this. Thanks again Simon.
the pant that Macro worn in the first image is amazing! Do you know what fabric it is and who made the cloth?
It’s a Zegna denim I believe. Let me check
My mistake. It’s actually a vintage Japanese piece a customer gave him. Sorry
Simon, building off another comment here, what do you know of the breakdown of your readership geographically? What portion come from UK, US, Australia, rest of the EU etc?
It’s about 30% UK, 35% US (interestingly) and the rest scattered between countries like Japan, Australia, Sweden and Italy.
great article and well deserved, Marco is a super nice guy and i love his trousers.
I am going to order a pair of beskope flannels for the coming winter. Is there any cloth you could recommend? I am really lost… Fox, H&S, VBC. Any tip would be highly appreciated! Thanks. Luca
Don’t worry too much about the bunches. There are some differences between them, but not much. More important is getting the weight and the colour right. Eg I used to have 11oz flannels but find I prefer 13 or 14.5oz these days. There isn’t much difference in the heat and they retain their shape better.
Do the Cerrato produce RTW?
I highly appreciate your efforts to popularize traditional hand crafted clothing. I lave in a country where just about 15 years ago branded ready made garments were not much heard of. But now the tailor made clothing and the artisans who make them have almost completely vanished.
One question if I may not bother you: Who will have to buy the cloth? Would the tailor provide them or we have to go with the cloth to get it stitched?
Usually the tailor would provide the cloth, because most cloth suppliers don’t sell to end customers
The trousers Marco is wearing are very interesting. Jeans, but with a traditional bespoke pleated style. I could imagine them being very versatile under most jackets or a navy jumper. They also seem to be lightweight, which is great for an informal summer look.
What do you think Simon? I was looking to buy a pair rtw, could you recommend a maker? Rota doesnt seem to offer this, even in their “build your own” service. If hard to find, this might fit your niche for a collaboration. Just a suggestion
Personally, I don’t like this style M. I’ve had them before, for example as the trousers to this jacket from Cifonelli. And I find they don’t look like jeans at all, just slightly unusual tailored trousers. Which is fine if you want unusual trousers, and they can look OK with knitwear. But most of the time I don’t want unusual trousers, and they look strange with a jacket.
I can completely understand the rationale, but in my experience it doesn’t work as the versatile trouser most hope.