Shibumi bespoke checked jacket – Review

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This bespoke jacket was made by Shibumi, the Italian/Japanese company better known for ties and accessories. 

Over the past couple of years, founder Benedikt Fries has been working with a small Florentine tailor to offer this bespoke tailoring service, having used the tailor himself for a while. 

I thought it was interesting to cover because the tailoring is quite well priced for Florence (jackets €2500, suits €3000) and because it’s available around the world - thanks to Benedikt’s trunk shows, currently New York, Tokyo, Zurich, Bangkok and Taipei. 

However, this availability is only possible because Benedikt takes measurements and conducts fittings himself. So some readers had asked about the service - whether Benedikt, despite not being a trained tailor, could create a good bespoke product in tandem with the cutter in Florence. 

I’m pleased to say (it’s always nicer to deliver good news) that the answer is yes. 

This is a strong, well-made piece of bespoke, and the fit is good. There are a couple of things I would change at a further fitting, and when I see Benedikt again, but they are not major. 

I was measured by Benedikt in London. We then had a fitting while visiting the silk printer Adamley, in Macclesfield. And I had a final fitting with the tailor Mario Liguori this past January, in Florence. 

The balance and other fundamentals were good from the start, which reassures me when recommending the service. Because while I had one fitting with the tailor, not all others will be able to do so. 

So it was good to see that the fit was good before the tailor became involved, and most of the second fitting was concerned with tidying up things like sleeve length, waist suppression and a little pick-up of my right shoulder (which always happens). 

The style is quite typically Florentine in the lapels, gorge and front opening. But it also has very soft, natural shoulders. 

This mix reflects a little of the tailor, Mario’s, background. 

Mario was born in Amalfi, and started work as a tailor in his uncle’s shop when he was 15. After a while he followed his uncle to St Petersburg, and worked there briefly before returning to Italy. 

In Italy he worked with A Caraceni, as a tailor in their workshop, before going to Florence in the late 1980s and working for Rudolfo Cisternino - brother of the better known Sartoria Piero Cisternino. It was there that he learnt to be a cutter, and worked under Cisternino for 30 years. His wife-to-be also worked in the same atelier. 

The Cisternino family is quite well-known in Florence, with Piero having won the Italian golden shears in the late 1960s. They originally came from Naples, and they are known for offering two types of shoulder expression: a more padded Florentine one, and the natural Neapolitan. 

The style made by Mario and offered by Shibumi is more Neapolitan, and it’s an interesting mix: that soft shoulder framing a high-rolled, square-gorged Florentine lapel. 

It’s not unusual for tailors to mix the two styles, of course. Tailors like Corcos in Florence do so, and so do many new tailoring outfits, in Hong Kong and Korea for example. 

However, most of those keep the Florentine extended shoulder, rather than having the usually smaller Neapolitan one. I quite like the effect in a casual sports jacket like this, as the lapel provides some angularity that the shoulder lacks. 

But the potential downside is that it makes the jacket look a little squarer, particularly given the short lapels created by that high roll. 

The fit of the jacket is really very good. 

The impression created by the pictures here, of the clean run from the collar down into the shoulder, and the smooth upper back, are both spot on. 

This is a great piece for a first commission, and it’s that level of execution that gives me confidence in recommending Benedikt.

One of things that could do with a tweak is the skirt at the back. There isn’t quite enough room across my seat (arse) causing the jacket to stick out slightly. 

Another small issue is that the waist is a little big on the front of the jacket. If anything that is underrepresented by the photos (see, it works both ways!) and could do with being taken in. 

Still, the effect of this is that it makes the jacket very clean at the front, as well as extremely comfortable. 

The work is also fine (see the buttonhole close-up) with lots of attention to detail, like the nice pattern matching across the double patch pockets (below). 

This isn’t Parisian levels - the inbreast pockets are still cut into a separate piece of cloth - but it’s more Florentine than Neapolitan. 

The cloth is from Zegna, a wool/cashmere/silk mix (69029, 86/4/10%) weighing 240/250g. 

I’ve never had a patterned Zegna cloth before, and I find the colours interesting. There is often something colder, perhaps more urban, about the Zegna offerings. 

Where a Caccioppoli or Loro Piana would be warmer, more casual, this feels corporate, and perhaps best suited to blue or white shirts, grey or cream trousers. 

The pattern has everything in it that you’d want to pick up elsewhere - brown, blue, grey, white - and yet it's best with a fairly narrow range of trousers and accessories. 

Here I’ve worn it with a white PS Oxford button-down shirt, warm-grey cotton trousers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, and my much-loved brown Belgravias. 

The visit to Adamley printing can be seen here.

Details on Shibumi service and trunk shows here

Shirt shown in fitting image: PS Everyday Denim.

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

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DKP

Simon – would you say the length is typical of Florentine tailors? Asking as it appears a fair bit shorter than you usually wear but perhaps that’s down to the photographs.

MFP

I too have a Florentine tailor and he also tends to cut sports jackets just a tad shorter than suit jackets; just 1-1.5 cm or so. Still covering your “derriere” though. Reason being that he want’s to emphasize the informality.

Anonymous

I like the cloth allot and the top part of the jacket looks great. I would say though that it looks rather short.

Ricky

I’ve found the quality of Shibumi to be particularly high, and good value.

They are my go to brand for RTW shirting. A good traditional neopolitan product with neat hand finishing.

Good to see the tailoring is also of similarly high standards.

Anonymous

Where do they do shirting? Can’t see online RTW

Ricky

I believe they are currently out of stock.

Check out their Instagram page for details. They had issues with the factory but will be restocking soon

Joe

Love the trousers! They look almost chino-esque. Where’s the fabric from?

Oliver

I really like this jacket Simon, especially the combination of soft shoulder and lower gorge, but can’t help thinking I’d like it even more if the lapel rolled to the middle button. Is this something you could change, if you wanted to, by repressing? Or is the canvas in the lapel padded such that it will stay that way?

JDV

@Oliver
I also feel that the silhouette would benefit from a 3-roll-2 lapel. Like this it seams more like a three button jacket, which I don’t like that much. Like Cisternino and Seminara it feels almost fallen out of time. To my taste that is. Also I think, like others pointed out too, it could could be maybe 2-3cm longer. Overall the fit seams to be fine though.

The zegna fabric is amazing! I like the grey, blue, brown tone of it. Somehow subtle but striking. More of a spring or fall look compared to your Dalcuore Jacket. Would you wear this one with beige linen?

Fatih

It seems to be very well done. I‘m not fond of the style at all, though. Those short lapels aren’t my cup of tea and I still don‘t get why so many Italian tailors love jackets that short. However, that’s just me.

Nezar

I agree with Olivier Simon. Looks much better with the gorge extending past the top button, as it looks way to clunky with the gorge ending at the top button (instead of the middle button). Lovely execution to the jacket as you’ve mentioned in your post.

Nick

Very nice! Quite like the fact that the roll of the lapel isn’t as pronounced (perhaps just because it’s different to what one sees most of the time these days?). Also, nice kick if the lapel in the gorge. Regarding the trousers, perhaps you could do an update of the ‘Filling the gaps’ post with the new trousers you have ordered?

RT

I second Nick’s suggestion of an update on the filling the gaps article for trousers.
I really like the jacket, overall. I was looking at this cloth, along with some others that shared the same colour palette, in the Zegna bunch. Very nice indeed and I’m still considering something from the bunch.
I’m not averse to a three-button jacket, but I’m not quite so keen on it here. I can’t quite articulate why, properly, but I suspect it’s something to do with the combination of the lapel profile and the check pattern. I think that a 3-roll-2 configuration would expose a little more of the plain shirt underneath, which would help a little. Still nice, though.

Toby

I second this

Philipp

Benedict isn’t coming to Germany anymore?

george rau

The short lapels make the chest look smaller than I would like. This is why you want more waist suppression. If you had longer lapels you would need a longer jacket to balance it. I have looked at Benedict’s suits and jackets and his are more masculine looking than this one. The fabric is very nice and the pants you used work very well. Like another gentleman posted, I would prefer creme, taupe or light tan linen in summer. It is really not an elegant looking jacket in my opinion. The short lapels ruin it for me

WES WP

Another voice – becoming a chorus: I’d go even further and say – I can’t really see the point of a third button on a suit. A drop 7, two button front is classic and ideal. I’m guessing that – in Italy – the top button (3rd button) is for when things get a bit cold or windy. Otherwise, the 3rd button is a useless appendage. In your Shibumi jacket, the third button (especially without the natural roll) is essentially ruined. Not sure what the argument is for a 3 button coat, but I’m open to an education.

WES WP

I was thinking the same thing when I wrote to you – about the bottom button being just as useless. Which is why, I suppose, Richard James of Savile Row has “mastered” (from what I hear) the one button jacket. But – to the naked eye – the one button jacket seems odd. I have far too many sport coats and blazers, but I only have 2 coats with the 3/2 roll. And those two pieces have a lower stance, and – as you point out – a closer together positioning. Here’s what I don’t understand (genuinely) – if I had your accumulated knowledge of clothing and its proportions – and I were having a piece made just for my body and my taste – I would take great care to direct the tailor on button stance and placement. While $2500 EUROS is not a lot of money for a bespoke jacket, it is A LOT of money to spend on a single piece of clothing (regardless of how it’s made, or by whom, or of what material). To that end – the jacket is made of a nice cloth, and it flatters you in certain respects – but I’ve dealt with this before in a few jackets I had to get rid of. They were hand-made masterpieces, but they looked silly because of the front buttoning. Even my world class tailor said to me, “Why didn’t they just make the jacket with two buttons.” In your case, why didn’t you direct them to do a lower button stance, and place the buttons closer together?

LAStyleGuy

Like the cloth and most of the fit. Would have preferred a “straight” two-button style, rather than a three/roll two—would’ve looked less pinched in the top.

Jason

I don’t doubt the quality of the workmanship and the cloth looks good.
That said, the styling and dimensions combine to project that dreaded ‘Pee -wee Herman’ look.
I’m afraid this one isn’t for me or, for any other self-respecting flaneur, I would suggest.

Anonymous

It does look a bit boxy when you stand still with your arms at your side. But I think it looks great in the images where you’re more natural and moving, which is way more important.

Nico

But anyhow something that fosters very instructive debate on proportions! Thanks for that.

Néstor

One here that loves that true 3 button style or 3 roll 2 very high. I like the symmetry created where you have the same opening above and below the middle button. Caraceni Roma makes this style very well. I’d never button up the top button, although it is cut to be possible. Stylistically it reminds me of your first A&S piece which I really like (more than your second SB, the blue linen jacket). I think the jacket would benefit from being an inch longer but that’s a matter of taste.

MFP

The jacket as well as fabric certainly looks great. Also i think they really nailed the issue with your shoulders. I too have the same “right shoulder problem” btw. Interestingly my own Florentine tailor state that it is typical for people of northern origin, while southerners tend to have the same prb., but with the left. Not sure if this is true though.

Interesting to compare my own jackets with this one, as my own Florentine tailor is also originally from southern Italy, Naples to be specific. He also much prefers a soft natural shoulder, in fact he does not use wadding/padding, unless you ask for it and will then try to steer you away from that choice. Also he does not like spalla camicia shoulders, as he thinks it is a bit gimmicky and even affected. On the other hand he will give you a big smile when you ask for a barchetta breast pocket; i have them on all my jackets from him.

With regards to pockets he tends to steer away from patch breast pockets, even on sports jackets, unless the fabric is tweed; something i was told is also typical of Florentine tailors, perhaps due to the preference of a more “clean” look. Standard is also a relatively wide lapel, 3 buttons with a beautiful soft 3-roll-2. The style otherwise is also typically Florentine with no front darts for instance, which btw. is how i prefer it, especially for patterned fabrics.

MFP

A bit superficial run-through perhaps. But thank you for the kind words.

v

Simon, do you know any alternatives for ordering bespoke ties via the internet apart from Shibumi, Patrizio Cappelli, and Passaggio Cravatte? More specifically, I am looking for a maker of regimental ties that allows for designing regimental patterns. Thank you.

Fatih

Have a look at Sam Hober. Bespoke tie maker with tons of regimental ties. You can even choose the direction of the stripes (British vs US). Craftsmanship is second to none by the way.

V

Thank you, Faith.

Arthur

Nice jacket. Unfortunately my experience with Shibumi bespoke was an unmitigated disaster. I commissioned both a shirt and a jacket during a New York trunk show, followed by 3 follow up fittings. Each time, the changes I had requested and that we had discussed had not been made, to my continued dismay, which made it feel like we were treading water every time I tried on the jacket. The final garment was shipped to me and was unwearable, shocking given the amount of time and fittings involved. Either Benedikt did not convey the changes to the atelier or the atelier forgot to make them, both of which are unacceptable (especially given the repeated fittings). Same issue with the shirt. Benedikt was apologetic and gave me credit for local alterations (which were not able to fix this disaster of a garment) but it still left a sour taste in my mouth, especially since given Benedikt’s trunk show schedule, I had to wait six months between each fitting. To this day do not understand how these commissions could have gone so wrong and how quality control could have been this poor. Just my two cents.

Je

Unfortunately I had a similar experience. The two jackets I ordered were not fully covering the seat and the sleeves were to short. As it turned out it was not possible to lengthen the jackets that much (about 2-3cm). The sleeves had also been lengthened already and there was no cloth left to lengthen them even more. As I ordered the second jacket at the first fitting of the first jacket, it turned out that the second jacket was made by another tailor. At that time he was apparently using two different neapolitan tailors, so both jackets ended up in a different style. Obviously he now uses a florentine tailor, so I can’t speak to that. Also as Simons experience suggests, the offering has improved. Nevertheless I sold both jackets and wont be giving it a third shot.

Fatih

Similar experience here. And his customer service leaves much to be desired. Ordered a couple of bespoke ties that never got delivered. No response to emails at all. At the end I opened a paypal case. He even didn’t respond to PayPal’s request to comment. Finally they got fed up with him not responding and refunded me the money. His service might be different to publicly known people, though.

Den Fingle

I wouldn’t commission a jacket like this because I aim for versatility on a limited budget. But this is a well made garment – the fit is fine, the fabric is interesting, and the style is, if not anything else, interesting. For someone with the breadth of Simon’s wardrobe, I think it’s worth commissioning something novel every once in a while.

Paul Boileau

Nice jacket and interesting cloth. I think commenters are concentrating too much on the straight on (posed) shot rather than the other photos that show the jacket when in motion. These seem to show the lapels rolling more to the second button with a greater portion of the shirt showing. Interesting (well, not that interesting) that your shirt cuffs appear to be unbuttoned…

Nicolas Stromback

Magnificent fabric choice.

Anonymous

Simon, I was struck by the comment about him moving to St. Petersburg. Did you mean Russia, or Florida? If sounded like this was during the 1970s/80s, so if the former, that would have been quite something for a tailor to do! Was he in fact making bespoke in the then Soviet Union?!

CDBP

Interesting. From the front the look is rather boxy, almost like classic J Press preppy look, which the shortness adds to. All of this is not negative. It may depend on what one wants and is looking for.
I am confident the make is excellent and that it is comfortable to wear.
Autumnal colours in a light weight : I like the tones but perhaps that combo is more practical for a Californian or Mediterranean than a Londoner ?

CDBP

One more thing : the jacket looks best in the photo in which you are walking. I think this is actually a good thing. The rigid Guardsman suit display poses don’t always give the most flattering view of the garment.

Rod Furniss

As a retired cutter I am not impressed with the back centre seam doesn’t match correctly with the collar.

Robert

@Rod Furniss
Very impressive pick up. I only caught that after you pointed it out and I enlarged the picture. That is a good eye dude.