Sartoria Pasinato, in the pretty town of Vicenza in north-eastern Italy, is an interesting example of a progressive tailor that still retains bespoke traditions.
Vicenza is industrial and wealthy, famous for its Palladian architecture and for the Olympic Theatre (the oldest covered theatre in the world).
But it is also small, with around 200,000 people, and Pasinato is the only game in town.
Massimo Pasinato founded the atelier after the well-known Gino Calebresi, previously the biggest tailor, shut down and handed over the business. Massimo had worked there as an apprentice since 1989, where his mother was also a tailor.
After a few years, Massimo started adding parts to the business. The first was a made-to-measure (MTM) programme with a difference - what he would call ‘evolved’ MTM.
This involves test suits in the shop, a computer programme into which changes can be entered, and manufacture at a factory in northern Italy.
When the suits arrive, Massimo does a fitting, makes adjustments, and then does the finishing and adds the sleeves himself.
The system operates under a different brand, ‘Max’, and is sold both to private customers and through a handful of shops in Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
It’s a very high level of MTM, particularly given the hand-attachment of the sleeves.
But perhaps most interesting is the way Massimo has adapted the computer system, and applied some of it to the bespoke side.
“When I first started working with the factory, you put in all your measurements and changes on a form, and sent it back,” Massimo says.
“But I wanted to understand how everything was set up, so I bought the computer programme myself and started entering the changes directly onto the patterns.”
Once he had done that, and improved the results the MTM could deliver, he started also putting all his bespoke patterns on the system as well.
“This helps with record-keeping and consistency,” he says. “I scan all the bespoke patterns onto the system, keep a record of everything ordered, and update the customer’s pattern after every fitting.”
When Massimo has to cut a new suit for a customer, he uses the system to find the most efficient way to arrange the pattern on the cloth, prints out a paper version, and cuts from that by hand as normal.
It’s exactly the same as normal bespoke, except for accurate and digital record-keeping.
“It always surprised me how many old Italian tailors didn’t update the patterns, particularly if they got larger rather than smaller,” says Massimo.
He shows me one pattern on the computer, and you can see how it has changed over time. The customer (now 80) has become more stooped as he has aged, and the back of the jacket has therefore got longer, the front shorter.
Bespoke is still the largest part of the business, but the MTM system allows Massimo to cater to a wider range of people - where he is the only local operation. (The other tailors being in Padua and Venice (Franco Puppato).)
The bespoke is all cut by Massimo, the jackets made by his mother (above) and trousers made by external workers. A couple of other tailors come in to help out in the afternoons.
The level of the work is high, with all hand padding etc, neatly pick-stitched edges and fine buttonholes.
The cloth around the internal breast pockets is also a continuation of the facing, rather than being cut (image above), which is a nice touch.
In terms of style, Massimo is in keeping with the traditions of the Veneto area - as passed to him by Calabrese. Lightweight construction, a soft shoulder (unlike the Milanese), and an emphasis on long, clean lines.
He likes an extended shoulder, and dislikes the excessive softness and ‘mappina’ wrinkles of Naples jackets. But he does offer a very lightly structured travel jacket (bright-blue version below).
Indeed, Sartoria Pasinato today is probably on the border between having a distinctive style and trying to cater to everyone.
This is not an easy balance to find for a lot of small tailors, but Massimo (crucially) is very self-aware and knows he has to balance both.
Massimo already travels a little around Europe, and is looking to go further afield.
He is helped in that regard by his wife, who is not only as friendly as charming as Massimo, but speaks English fluently.
Spurred by this, I commissioned a suit in a VBC tan covert cloth, which I will cover the fitting of in a couple of weeks.
Prices: Bespoke suits from from €2200 (€1800 without cloth), made to measure from €900.
Video below showing a little of Massimo at work. Thanks to Francesco and Simone from VBC for the introduction to Massimo.