Artisan of the year 2020: Sartoria Ciardi

Monday, March 2nd 2020
Share
||- Begin Content -||

Artisan of the year 2020: Sartoria Ciardi

 

Enzo Ciardi has a lovely smile. It’s big (but then he’s big), it’s warm, it’s friendly. It’s extremely welcoming. 

And best of all, I can enjoy that smile fully. Because when he opens the door to the appartment on Hertford Street he uses for trunk shows, I have no awkward thoughts at the back of my mind. 

I don’t have to ask him to repair lining that is coming away. I’m not thinking about whether I should bring up a fit issue. I have confidence that the jacket I’m there to pick up will be correct. 

It’s a very congenial feeling. In fact it makes the whole experience tangibly more enjoyable.

The longer I cover bespoke tailoring, the more I value these things. 

Bespoke has such tremendous potential to create a unique, beautiful piece of clothing that you can’t create with any other method. 

But it needs quality and consistency - something most Savile Row tailors have always had, but smaller ones in other parts of Europe can lack.  

With Ciardi, the product has been perfect and predictable, leaving me free to worry about things like cloth or style. To shop, in other words. 

So far Enzo has made me two suits and two jackets - all pictured here. The grey high-twist suit (above), a heavy green-cotton suit (bottom), a gun-club checked jacket (below), and a cord jacket (below that). 

They quickly improved in fit, and then stayed there. There have been no mistakes, and no regressions where it was obvious the pattern hadn’t been updated. 

Plus, of course, the cut is one I like: flattering yet comfortable. 

It does that great thing created by the 3D nature of bespoke tailoring, where the waist looks shaped yet there’s actually lots of room. The space is perfectly balanced all round the body. 

And we’ve successfully determined two styles of shoulder that I pick from for different commissions: one very slightly padded with a small rope at the end (like the grey suit above); and the other just with canvas in the shoulder and nothing in the sleevehead (like the tweed jacket below).

Enzo is not perfect, but he does seem open and earnest about suggestions, which makes a big difference. 

I’ve passed on all the comments from readers about what makes a good trunk show, and he’s taken them on board. He is also aware he could be better on communications.

His English has noticeably improved, though it’s now at the level of being sufficient, not perfect - complicated points are still hard to discuss. 

He now comes to London more often - every two months usually - and often only needs one fitting. 

I’d understand it if readers were worried about having just one fitting, particularly on a first suit. But most of the time that’s all I’ve needed, with good results. And of course it makes the whole process much faster. 

However, we have had two fittings sometimes, and I would encourage readers to ask for it if they want, if only for reassurance. 

I know Enzo has about 15 customers now from among PS readers, so I’d ask that they relate their experiences, if they feel they can. 

This award is an indulgence for me - an opportunity once a year to recognise an artisan I love, without the need of a new commission or a news hook. But it’s always nice when others add their views. 

So far, Enzo says the most common order in London has been business suits - navy and grey - which perhaps isn’t surprising for a first, safe order. But second is tweed jackets, particularly in dark colours. 

Although he's pleased with that response, he says the most important thing for Sartoria Ciardi - for the family business as a whole - is loyalty and consistency. For customers that come back regularly if not frequently. 

This echoes the point I’ve often made, that bespoke is most effective for both sides in the long run - when the pattern is perfected and so the process easier for both the tailor and the customer. 

At that point it’s not just like shopping, but shopping somewhere that never changes. And you know how many children the salesman has. 

On that point, Enzo’s brother Roberto (pictured above, right), tends not to travel because he has a young family, where Enzo does not. 

Still, if you ever have the chance in Naples, it’s worth taking the time to go for coffee or lunch with them. It's good fun. 

Thank you Enzo and Roberto, for your clothes and your friendship. 

Photography: Jamie Ferguson

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
74 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
DKP

Well this certainly helps to cement my decision to have my first bespoke jacket made by Enzo. You mention his English has improved substantially- would you say to the point of being able to collaborate well in terms of choice of fabric and others common choices?

DKP

Simon – meaning there’d be a challenge in discussing which fabric will best suited for a desired look/feel/weight as well as choice of pockets, buttons, lining etc or are those basics manageable? just trying to gauge how much of a challenge to anticipate – especially as this would be my first bespoke experience at this level.

DKP

Simon – with regards to your advice that I bring my own views on cloth, how does one do this with limited experience of such things? You’ve suggested in another article that based on my criteria I look at light weight wools ( 9 or 10oz, with some pattern in it). Is this enough to bring to the table, ie stating a colour, advising wight weight wool with some pattern or would it still be a struggle with Enzo?

Sam

Good post Simon, and one that picks up on what a big differentiator the personal relationship is when compared to off-the-rack shopping – it’s quite hard to put a price on, but seems to add a lot of value.

A cruelly ironic typo in the paragraph where you talking about the improvements to Enzo’s English speaking, though.

Michael

The clothes are beautiful but the descriptions of Enzo and Roberto are heartwarming.

MFP

Apart from the excellent fit on your items from Ciardi, i noticed something odd. You have talked about the challenge you have with your sloping shoulders before, but somehow i really do not notice it much, if at all, on your Ciardi bespoke.

MFP

It is odd actually. However, a sentence from a elderly tailor i talked to many years ago, when i was very young, still linger. I asked him about correcting for physical imperfections & he almost cringed & said: “Young man, please understand that as a tailor one should always aim to work WITH the customers body, not AGAINST it!” Not 100% sure what he meant, but probably something like emphasizing the positive parts & perhaps the less positive would go more or less unnoticed.

JH

Does the second of your shoulder styles that you mention use a spalla camicia?

Somalad

I think this article perfectly encapsulates what appeals to me about bespoke. Looked at in isolation, paying £5,000 (plus) for an item of clothing is an extravagance regardless really of how much one can afford to pay.

But what I, at any rate, am really paying for is to un-commodify this aspect of my life. To build a relationship with the tailor and their process and to invest the experience of buying and owning with a kind of wholesomeness which is the opposite of the feeling I get when I buy an overpriced suit off the rack or a handbag for my wife.

If you had to represent that wholesomeness in a picture it might be a couple of tailors in a bar with a satisfied customer, or bent over a workbench amid carefully cultivated disorder.

Miles

I think you make a truly wonderful point here Somalad. As you astutely note, you are paying to interface with a wonderful craftsman. The memory of the craftsman, in turn, affects how you wear the piece of clothing, giving it an additional sense of life and “un-commodifying” it. It must feel heartwarming to put on a jacket made by these men.

Simon often mentions the 3 dimensional nature of bespoke craft. This is usually a very literal visual reference to how a piece of clothing looks on someone. But there is also a way in which the memory of a commissioned item adds even another layer (dimension) to the process, which I think goes right to your point.

As a complete side note, I love Jamie’s first photo here. It’s really worth giving some applause to how he captures the mirth of Enzo in motion.

Chris

Here here!
Beautifully put.

Charles Moorman

Well said! I offered some similar comments below about my tailor Davide Taub of G&H. He is a joy to work with and there is nothing like going through samples of fabrics from Scabel, L-P and especially Holland & Sherry to determine what suit you would like for him to make for you. I have a very modest income but I pass on a lot of consumer electronics and gismos, etc to use my money for nicely made and beautiful clothes. Ones Apple blah-blah number phone will be obsolete and in a trash dump in 4 years but I will have a suit, that if well taken care will last decades and serve my far better then some stupid phone. Mass consumerism isn’t my thing–custom-made clothing is!

Anonymous

I just looked back at the previous artisans of the year. Interesting that there are two relatively small (and maybe PS popularised) Italian makers chosen out of the three prize winners. And that in descriptions of both there’s a real sense of familial warmth you experience that doesn’t add any objective difference to the clothing but clearly adds a subjective joy (which I think you capture beautifully in both descriptions). It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently – that the clothes I enjoy wearing most tend not to be the most perfectly executed or technically correct but have a ‘story’ attached – be it regarding the maker, inherited/gifted items, or even experiences I’ve had wearing the clothes. I think this emotional aspect to clothing is something my favourite menswear writers (yourself, Die Workwear, David Coggins) touch on frequently. One question to disrupt my reverie – where is the pink room in which you’re pictured wearing the grey Ciardi suit?

Stephen

It would be great if one day the V&A could could do something on bespoke. Sartoria Ciardia should be a key feature of such an exhibition. The shoulders are a work of art!

Ben

Do you ever think it matters how these tailors dress themselves?

Always thought Luigi & Luca look great at their trunk shows (but probably resort to jeans when eating pizza in Naples?!). Not sure about Ciardi from these pics…

Anonymous

Could I ask which bespoke tailors you would go to if you felt the need to ask for their style advice?

Leonard

Simon, if I may, whats the cost of a Ciardi suit?

DKP

Simon – is it common for payment to be in full from the start or does it tend to partial and then the remainder upon completion?

Anonymous

Have you heard anything about Dominic Casey’s shoes? Would you ever try bespoke with him Simon?

Anonymous

But you don’t wear them very often?

Morten

Would you recommend Ciardi for a softly structured, heavy flannel suit for Scandinavian conditions, or are the likes of Anderson and Sheppard a better option for such an order?

J.

Simon, this is the first article in permanentstyle that I would agree with every sentence that you have written. And may I say written very well. My wardrobe from Ciardi is 10 jackets – various fabrics :flannel/linen/mohair-wool/wool- most of them DB and 3 overcoats, 1 of which still being made. The quality and consistency of their product has been second to none – for me at least equivalent to Cifonelli, who I also use for my jackets, and therefore I feel I can provide a good comparison. Enzo’s English are not great, but that is only if someone uses specific English terminology. I never had any issues to discuss the cut(s), finishing details, fabrics etc. I would add that their versatility on different cuts, in combination with their in house “soft” style, makes their jackets usable both as part of a business suit, formal jacket only and casual jacket (say with chinos or jeans).

Keith

I discovered Ciardi through PS and see Enzo regularly during the London trunk shows. To date, he has made me a jacket and is about to finish a suit (and I recently provided him with the cloth to make a further jacket). I am absolutely delighted with their work and have been amazed that this level of cutting is achieved with just one fitting. Enzo really is exceptional.

If you like the roomy Ciardi cut with generous sleeve head, as I do, then I highly recommend them. Those who are considering Ciardi for the first time should look at their Instagram page in order to get a better sense of their style.

This award is well-deserved. Bravo Ciardi!

TOS

Simon,
I must be one of Enzo’s 15 London PS clients and I’m delighted to offer my experience – which in reality, is identical to yours! My first commission was indeed a business suit – a blue version of your high twist wool. One fitting and I’ve worn it with pride. My second commission is actually a taupe-ish linen suit for summer and the recent first fitting was a joy. Various projects are planned now including an overcoat – some of the ones I’ve seen at Enzo’s recent trunk shows have just been sublime.
I’m still a relative bespoke novice and have found the commissioning process with Enzo a real pleasure. He explored my wishes when appropriate and gave advice when necessary. I found the balance just right.
Your photos and words capture his personality and charm and I’ve had no hesitation in recommending him to friends and family.
A trip to Naples definitely beckons…
All the best.

Sartorius

Do you know when they are next scheduled to visit London, Simon? They had said perhaps mid-February but I heard no more so assume they didn’t come in the end.

Jason

By the looks of things, a very worthy winner.
I love the shoulder he did on your check jacket – isn’t it unusual for a tailor to offer two alternatives ?
When I look at the profile of that coat, it looks very like the shoulder and drape I get on my A&S single breasted cords and linen. Is that a fair comparison or is it just the photo ?
Also, his pricing looks to be reasonable. Are they current ?
All in all a great choice. The flaneurs will be flocking!

Shawn Ailawadhi

Hi Simon,
Does Enzo travel to NY?
Thanks

Olivier

I have now used Ciardi for several suits and 3 jackets. As you are describing Simon I have found a few things quite incredible:
– they are consistent, really consistent. And you can feel it really well at the first and second fitting. There are not many things to fix.
– Even if their English is not great, you can exchange and they DO listen. They have the ability to adapt styles around a core fit.
– I like their fit. very much. its modern, comfortable
– they are amazingly nice people
Well deserved

Nicolas Stromback

Hey Simon, I noticed a small typo in the second paragraph “appartment”. Cheers

John

Congrats to Sartoria Ciardi!
Being awarded this year also means a lot to PS readers too! And that raises the double challenge even higher for you in the coming years: “quality and consistency”.
On this occasion, I would like to make the following point: when it comes to shoulders, ultimately the choice between natural and padded ones, if not slightly, can’t be reduced solely to a matter of style. Indeed, the more I ponder this issue, the closer I come to the idea that one has to factor in his own build into the equation, and therefore can’t rely exclusively on whether the end product should be less smart or not.
And if so, then the choice has far reaching consequenses well beyond the one made about a single item, as it touches on how one envisions his casual wardrobe.
Thanks again for your commitment, Simon!
John

Anonymous

I hope his prices don’t go up! There’s a tendency for tailors who are were once affordable to not be once they gain more popularity

Charles Frank Moorman

Davide Taub, lead tailor for Savile Row tailor Geives & Hawkes is absolutely the best tailor alive. He has made me 3 suits and My God I can’t believe how well they fit me. AMAZING! It took me 30 years and 35 different tailors before I came to use Davide and I will never use anyone else. Look this guy up! He’s the [email protected]

VSF

The Ciardi cut on the tweed jacket, with only canvas in the shoulder, looks fantastic on Simon. Doesn’t Mr. Taub cut a more traditional English jacket with thick shoulder padding, heavier chest canvas etc? If he could make a jacket with more of a natural shoulder and lighter canvas that would be interesting, but that isn’t the house style, if I understand it correctly. The fact that you’ve used 35 different tailors and finally settled on him is quite impressive.

Charles Moorman

Hmm. Since I have rather large shoulders (former competitive weight-lifter and wrestler) he puts just a tad of shoulder padding on my suits–nothing thick about them as it is pretty much a “natural shoulder”. The suits he has made are a mid-weight, super 120 fabric so by just the composition and weight of the fabric a heavy chest canvas wouldn’t work for them. David cuts the fabric with a little more flair then the “house standard” as I have two G & H suits cut by previous tailors in that manner and they are TOTALLY, and I do mean TOTALLY different then how Davide has made my current suits–they simply aren’t as “stuffy” as the first two suits which were definitely cut to the G & H way and, to be quite honest, I didn’t like. Apparently he has a little more freedom in suit making for G&H then the personnel I worked with 10 years ago as these three suits don’t look at all like the older two suits in cut, fit, etc. He apparently is more “hands-on” then the previous personnel I dealt with as I have never worn a garment that fits as perfectly as Davide has made these suits. For example, the trousers are tighter in the legs then the first two suits trousers were though they aren’t ridiculously tight. Waist is perfect and there is no excess material like the first two had around the yoke. I don’t know what he does but he does it better then anyone I have ever used. What years I have left he is my tailor for life. He seems to have a knack for nailing a perfectly made suit from supreme fabrics. I am going to wear the heck out these garments though I live in “extremely casual” California which isn’t my style–I like to look like I am rich even if I am not.

VSF

Excellent information, thank you.

JB

Simon, out of curiosity, the comments you make about Ciardi seem very much in line with what you’ve said about Zizofoli in the past. Was it a close call between the two or do you simply prefer the Ciardi cut and option of having two shoulders?

They are both well priced I think, and I’m tempted to try both. I’d probably go Ciardi first mainly because I really like the look of that unofficial shoulder on your checked jacket.

Massimo

Dear Mr. Crompton,
Mr. Crompton,
I would like to express my appreciation for the always interesting and very detailed articles you are posting on your website. I greatly appreciated your contribution and excellent, professional point of view.
Grazie di Cuore.

PK

Hi Simon,

Thanks for more great content – I love reading your stuff. For a bit of background I’ve never bought bespoke before, though I’ve spent a silly amount of time researching and think I know as much as I could without actually getting involved, and I am now looking to start levelling up. I wanted to ask about the difference between big name tailors and less well known tailors. Leaving aside those individuals known for their artistry and uniqueness (Sexton, Cifonelli etc come to mind), would you say there is a world of difference between more generic expensive bespoke tailors (perhaps like Henry Poole) and less expensive local tailors? I have found a local tailor who I spoke to at some length – we seem to get on in terms of our understanding of a good suit but I don’t actually know anyone that has had a suit cut by him: the thing that makes me unsure is the price which is around £1.2-1.4k. Does great bespoke have to be expensive? If not then is the price difference between him and Savile Row just rent?

On a similar point – could a bespoke suit ever not be as good value as a decent price MTM? I’m reasonably averagely built and I’ve got some ready to wear suits that fit decently and look good though I get that they aren’t perfect. Perhaps never having bought bespoke before means I can’t really appreciate just how good a bespoke suit can look and feel but I’m still not totally sure about whether the step up is worth the price difference given I don’t have a freakishly weird body shape. I’m wondering whether it would be a risk to get a bespoke suit for the above price instead of perhaps buying a cheaper MTM one now and waiting to save up a bit more then go for a bespoke suit from a safe reputable tailor.

Please let me know if you’ve addressed this elsewhere and I’ve just missed it! Thanks.

TJ

Hi Simon, seems like a great endorsement for this house, and one that I am strongly considering for a bespoke commission.

It seems that these days you prefer Neapolitan tailoring for odd jackets, however, who would you choose if you only had to use a Saville Row or London based tailor for odd jackets? The reason I ask is that I would like to start assembling a wardrobe of odd jackets and trousers (I rarely wear suits these days), but my frequent travel schedule means that it can be difficult to attend trunk shows and therefore purchase sports coats from a Neapolitan based tailor (as tempting as this would be).

Thanks,
TJ

Scott

Interesting recommendation. I’ve always liked the way the Steven Hitchcock jacket looks on you so, thanks for the reminder. When I look at all the photos the jackets definitely have more of a pleasing silhouette ,I really like the shoulder, which reminds me of Ciardi.

Harri

A well-deserved distinction!

I discovered Sartoria Ciardi in the documentary “O’Mast: The Art of Neapolitan Tailoring. Highly recommended.

Anonymous

I remember during my consultation that Enzo didn’t really write down my details for the garment I wanted — I’m worried that maybe he won’t remember my specifications since it’ll be some time that we’ll see each other again. Should I be worried or follow up with him?

Tai

Just a quick thing I noticed when you are holding your hat: It may be best to hold if the other way as It is not nice to show the inside of your hat to friends and strangers, especially in public.

TAI

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, it is evidenced in the comments section here that many people do “notice or care” . Not for the tradition, as much, but primarily because it is not a clean and hygienic look to expose the inside of a hat that has been sweated in and has hair follicles on it . Furthermore, it is like wearing a suit inside/out. I frequently wear Borsalino Fedora’s and it takes me no more effort to hold it the correct way.

Alexander

Dear Simon! I am trying to find the right cloth for a first jacket commision from ciardi. It should be something fairly casual to go with flannels/jeans and denim/oxford-shirts. I was thinking about the Moon Lambswool range, that you also mentioned sometime.
What do you think of these dark green versions for this kind of jacket:
https://www.moons.co.uk/product/forestblack/
https://www.moons.co.uk/product/forest/
I know it is hard to judge from pictures. I am looking for a modern/urban version of green without any country associations, like your MTM jacket from Anglo-Italian, or that from Willy Wang from your post on his style.
Do you think that Ciardi has cloth from Moon available? In general, would you advise to choose a cloth that the tailor knows and has available, possibly already worked with (that´s what I would have guessed). Or would it be okay to bring your own cloth?
Thank you very much for your input!

Charles Frank Moorman

Hail oxford cloth! My favorite shirting fabric but make it pinpoint oxford cloth. I must have a 100 shirts of this fabric. As it ages the weave gets tighter and it feels like a silk shirt after a couple of years and is just a joy to wear! I know it is looked down upon compare to broadcloth but a nice pp oxford cloth in sea island cotton is as good as anything made from broadcloth in my opinion!