The Shirtmakers Symposium – The speakers

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Left to right: Simon Crompton, Justin Chang, Jack Sepetjian, Darren Tiernan, Silvio Albini, Luca Avitabile, Paolo Maffeis.

The Shirtmakers Symposium last Wednesday went so well: great location, great speakers, great discussion.

We decided this time to have everyone seated, and it made a real difference: far more focus on the talk, and a stronger debate overall. It helped that we had better lighting and audio, thanks to Albini and Palazzo Gondi.

The palazzo itself is amazing. Arguably the most beautiful in Florence, it is where Leonardo da Vinci worked for most of his life.

Rather humbling - particularly when Silvio Albini used his opening speech to liken the shirtmakers to Florentine renaissance painters.

I'll write more on the actual discussion in a separate post, but as per usual, here are some details on the speakers.

Jack Sepetjian, Anto Shirts

Perhaps the most unusual of the speakers, Jack runs his family company in Beverly Hills - where most of the customers are Hollywood actors.

He had just shipped 60 shirts to Tom Cruise for the latest Mission Impossible, filming in the UK.

Jack's business is unusual in that most customers have well-established patterns, and his biggest challenge is delivering bulk orders of shirts made to those patterns, often only with a day or two's notice.

Darren Tiernan, Budd

Darren couldn't be more different, working in the tiny Budd store in Piccadilly and seeing the vast majority of customers in person.

He is celebrating 30 years as a shirtmaker this year, which made his inclusion as the British representative rather fitting.

He came across as a true craftsman, modest and considered.

Luca Avitabile

Readers will be familiar with Luca - the southern-Italian representative - given his work for me both on personal shirts and on the Friday Polos.

Luca spent a little time at the beginning talking about his family history, with his grandmother a bespoke shirtmaker and his father expanding into a shirt factory.

Justin Chang (right) with his father Tony Chang, Ascot Chang

Justin was a wonderful speaker, which was just as well as his father was sitting in the front row filming every word.

The Ascot Chang business has unique challenges with bespoke, as it takes bespoke orders from all of the stores across the US, Hong Kong and China, who communicate the fit back to HQ in a code system that has been honed over decades.

Most of those stores are run by apprentices of Justin's grandfather, who started the business. But with them all getting on in age, a big challenge is replacing them and maintaining this remote bespoke system.

Paolo Maffeis, Emanuele Maffeis

Paolo, representing the clean style of northern Italy, was a grinning foil to every question we discussed.

His business is again a little different, doing bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear, but all at a very high level.

I will also write separately about the six shirts the speakers made for the event, each of which had interesting technical details.

Photography: © Carlos Folgoso / Massimo Sestini

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I really dislike collar design which has no tie space. The Sepetjian collar is the worst example of it.


What does collar design without tie space mean? I presume you refer the shirt collar Mr Sepetjian wears in the photograph? Don’t you think his tie knot is too big?
I think Simon has a wonderful photogenic radiant smile, and his shirt collar is beautiful? Simon, is your shirt collar named cutaway or what?


“A gap between both collar sides at the top into which the tie is pulled”? (Paraphrased to indicate I’m trying!) Must meditate on that!?
My English ain’t so good!

Simon, you have found a beautiful collar cut in the shirt you wear above. Very sleek and elegant. In photographs if the situation allows – and unless you are at a funeral or in Parliament etc. – you would be better advised to smile because your smile looks genuine and is special. ? Ask your friends and family or anybody if that ain’t so!


Does Luca offer floating as well as fused collars?

Jeff from Chicago

I can not wait for the full report of this evening. Will there possibly be a way to hear the audio segments of the makers/speakers?

Ian A

Yes i’ve Been looking for it as I only saw it briefly on Instagram as a live video feed, and as I was in an ice rink I could barely hear any of it! Please post it on social media.


Hi Simon,

I saw the video of the discussion which you posted on Instagram and very much admired your outfit. Would you mind sharing the details of what you were wearing?


When will the full report be published? Very much looking forward to it!


Hi Simon,

I was lucky enough to be at Palazzo Gondi in person. The discussion was interesting and entertaining – a very successful evening. In terms of organization I agree that it was a noticeable step up compared to last years retailer symposium. Keep on going the good work.

Cheers, Karsten


Will you be ranking each one ?

Would be good to read how they rank on quality, value , price point etc .


Looking forward to future posts. Interesting looking at each person; Aside from yourself Justin Chang and father Tony seem to be the only ones well dressed. The others all seem to sport cutaway or button-down collars none of which seem flattering. I was looking at Matt Spaiser’s Frank Foster examples – all of which sport a collar cut that seems superior to anything here. Cutaways are great when worn undone with a suit but always seem inept when mached with a tie as they don’t frame the tie nor the face very well – particularly if the face is broad. I know I’m being unfair but when you did the tailor’s symposium Sexton et al were all brilliant examples of their craft and art and the suits were impeccable. Apart from the Chang’s none here seem to flatter in the same way.


Hi Simon,

Why no inclusion of the Parisian (Charvet, Courtot etc)?

You have two Italian styles represented, so was a bit surprised to see that the French were omitted.