Brioni bespoke tailoring
A few months ago, Brioni contacted me to ask if I would be interested in having a suit made, in order to review it.
Not knowing much about the Brioni product, I was a little unsure. Invitations to cover other big-brand made to measure have not always turned out well. Prada MTM is one example that comes to mind.
But fortunately, as soon as I started talking to the team in the Bruton Street store, it became clear this was serious bespoke.
The hand padding on the chest and lapel I was shown - pictured below - was the first obvious sign, even if the staff admitted a real jacket didn’t have stitches quite as tight or precise as this display model.
I was even impressed by the quality of the ready-to-wear tailoring.
I previously reported that the chest and lapel on the RTW jackets was hand-padded, having been told so by the staff in store, and been shown examples.
This was challenged by a reader, citing an article where such a jacket had been taken apart by another tailor. When I asked to talk to the management to clarify, it turned out there had been a mistake: only bespoke uses hand padding.
However, that padding does use an old machine that gives the tailor greater control than anything more modern and automated. And hand padding does become less useful the lighter and softer you want your jackets.
There is always more rigidity with hand-sewing the chest, unless you have stitches that are so loose as to be almost pointless. And therefore even on bespoke, Brioni sometimes uses that old machine here, unless the customer asks otherwise.
Many other aspects of the ready-made tailoring is done by hand, from the obvious things like the buttonholes down to the much less obvious like pocket jettings.
This is more than any other ready-made tailoring I have seen, including the likes of Tom Ford or Kiton. (The latter is much better at marketing theirs.)
And as is often the case with handwork (or individual paper patterns) the significance is just as much what it indicates about the care taken elsewhere - how much hand ironing is done, for example, or how much refining of the pattern over several fittings.
With Brioni, it signifies that these are all suits made with a bespoke mindset. They have lots of inlay in the seams (12cm across the chest), tailors in-house that can take any of the RTW suits apart, and extensive alterations that are standard, not extra.
So that's not just nipping in the waist or hemming the trousers, but sloping the shoulders and shortening the sleeves (from the shoulders) as well. Customers regularly bring back suits to be repaired, pressed and altered.
This work and service goes some way to justify how expensive a Brioni suit or jacket is: in the UK online, suits start around £3000 and run up to £7000.
But even there, the variation is mostly down to different materials - you get the same quality for £3000. And a Tom Ford suit starts at $4,000, without the same handwork inside.
Of course, top-line suits from the likes of TF, Zegna and Kiton do have lots of other handwork, but not as much as Brioni. Above, for example, is an impressively fine hand-sewn buttonhole, while below is the lining on the inside of the trouser waistband, which is all delicately attached by hand.
Brioni bespoke is better value still, relatively speaking.
It starts at £5,360, which is comparable to most top-end bespoke from Savile Row, Paris or Milan. In fact, cheaper these days than most of the big names, which are often north of six thousand.
Although I don’t think we should go too far down this line of thinking. Because good as it is to know that the bespoke is decent value, I think the biggest selling point is going to be Brioni's service, convenience and sense of luxury.
Presuming my jacket and trousers turn out well, I can see Brioni being an attractive option for those who value having many stores around the world - that they can pop into any time - and staff who provide good service.
I’ve had a surprising number of conversations over the years with readers who bemoan the lack of professionalism among bespoke tailors. Who get tired of things going wrong, or of picking out cloth sitting on a hotel bed.
Even among Savile Row houses, it can be frustrating to be an American customer and have just a one-hour window, every six months, to interact with your tailor. Sometimes even just half an hour.
None of this will matter to those for whom money is the biggest factor, and they are of course the vast majority.
But that doesn’t mean the preferences of others should be ignored. And there is something we all like about visiting a beautiful store, with enough (good) staff to have noted everything you discussed on the last visit. Which has lovely changing rooms, and indeed a sumptuous bathroom. (I took some photos in there - I want that marble sink.)
It's also lovely, in a different way, visiting a small tailor like Musella Dembech in Milan - where the workshop is in the family apartment, and Gianfrancesco holds the mirror out for you because he’s never got round to fixing it to the wall.
But that’s not for everyone. For those that enjoy - indeed are happy to consciously pay for - good retail, someone like Brioni looks like a better choice than many other big brands.
The biggest issue for me personally might be Brioni’s style.
Their RTW jackets around the store are beautifully made, and impressively light when you try them. I was particularly taken with the ‘Plume’ construction, which is the lightest to still have all the same hand-padded canvas (lighter and softer than any Neapolitan jacket I’ve had).
But the house style does tend towards the mainstream aesthetic of shorter jacket, close fit and high gorge. They use a lot of super-count worsteds, silks and other more luxe materials. It’s not an aesthetic I would normally be drawn too.
Still, this is personal. You can’t expect a bigger brand to be driven by the current classic-menswear vogue of wide shoulders, low buttoning points and chunky tweeds.
And the team were very clear that the bespoke service meant I could have anything I wanted. So I wore suits and jackets to my fittings that demonstrated the proportions I liked - in these pictures, my Benson & Clegg flannel suit.
I’ll see how the final result turns out.
I will confess, though, to be rather fond of the Brioni team, a few months into the process. They are efficient, engaged and aware. They know what other bespoke houses produce and what they can offer to compete.
They seem proud of their service, with tailors on site to be able to do any job. Indeed, it looks like the last fitting or two of mine will be made on location, rather than being sent to Penne.
I also kind of think Brioni is an interesting case study.
Many tailors try to make their businesses more sustainable by expanding into ready-made clothing. Some add cheaper RTW suits, to avoid competing with bespoke (eg Dege & Skinner); others use a foreign-made service that lowers costs (I think Kilgour were the first); and others add a RTW collection that does everything except tailoring (Anderson & Sheppard).
Brioni started as a bespoke tailor, but very early on (in the 1950s) started doing runway shows, collections and the first trunk shows. They were an innovator, also setting up one of the first in-house tailoring schools.
They are in some ways what an ambitious bespoke tailor aims to become: an international brand, but with no compromise on their tailoring.
Over the years it feels like Brioni tailoring has been rather lost beneath celebrity collaborations and various changes of creative director. If I can, it will be nice to do something to change that.
Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt
Note: This article has been updated from its original version, to correct a point about hand padding
I’m certainly interested in seeing the final result, I think the common perception is the bigger named brands within our space (Brioni, Zegna, Lori Piana) are not very good value. However from what I have seen they make to a high standard of work.
From memory I believe the old Brioni bespoke is now making under the Marol bespoke brand. They appear to be very skilled artisans utilizing extensive handwork!
I just want to start off by saying that I really appreciate everything you’re doing revolving PS!
I’m not sure if this is a recurring question, but as you (and Permanent Style) has gained more renown during the years, do you reckon this impacts the way you can review a bespoke tailor/mtm on points as personal service and more “soft values”?
The aesthetics of a garment, or a house style, and hopefully the quality, will always be more agnostic regardless if it’s you or me who’s the customer.
I do realize that covering personal service etc are important points, and you can only do it from your experience with the company and/or tailor. I can’t help to think that I would feel a bit self conscious about mentioning these points if I was in your place.
Yes you’re right, I think it’s inevitable that I might be treated differently. I often try to speak to customers I know of the brand too, to try and get some perspective there, but that wasn’t possible here.
As to mentioning things, though, I find brands expect and indeed want a really honest opinion from me, which is nice. They know that’s what I do, so that make it a lot less awkward
are you sure they want a “honest opinion?” or more like flattering opinion that won’t impact their sales in Amy negative way or no opinion? cue luxire.
They obviously want something positive, but as with the Prada example, if it quickly becomes obvious that it’s going to be entirely negative or not fitting, we don’t usually pursue it.
What people usually want is something that is broadly positive, but also honest and so always with caveats. As is largely the case here. Something entirely positive would feel fake and they know that
hmm….must be the minority! I prefer to know brands will admit their mistakes and fix them rather than be “almost entirely positive experience” from the start..
It’s not mistakes Martin, more just how it plays with what I cover or find interesting
I appreciated this Brioni review. If it helps at all, my limited interaction with them was not very positive.
Last year I walked into the Bruton St store, joining my friend who is a good customer of theirs, to advise him on a couple new jackets.
I was wearing a Cifonelli suit. Given my friend was less experienced in the commissioning process, I was the one asking many of the questions. Attitude towards me from the sales people was arrogant, and objectively knew very little about tailoring in general (fabrics, cut, style, etc). Even threw a little comment about the fit of my own suit (which was, to my taste at least, spot on). So all in all, whilst they do have solid RTW garments, the interaction can be snobbish and put off other bespoke enthusiasts.
A Brioni salesman criticizing a Cifonelli suit? That should have given you a laugh. Maybe it wasn’t boxy enough for him. Kind of like a Jaguar salesman criticizing an Aston Martin.
I tried to be respectful, but yes, fully agreed. Even though its a similar price point, you can’t really compare as they are in different leagues, both from product to experience.
It’s inevitable, I agree.
That’s nice to hear, and I also believe that’s the perspective I get as a reader from the articles.
What are you commissioning?
A wool/silk/linen jacket, shirt and cotton trousers
I’ll look forward to the full review! In the interim, are you able to comment a little on their shirt offering (e.g. bespoke/MTM, handwork, price and general experience)?
To be honest I didn’t focus that much on the shirt side, but the fit was generally good and the work fine, without all of the handwork of some of the Neapolitans
I’ve picked up a surprising volume of Brioni tailoring in my time to flip on eBay, probably 30 or so pieces. They stick in my mind as some of the best in terms of materials and make. My current dinner suit is a 4 x 1 Brioni for Nieman Marcus, and it does feel wonderfully louche to wear.
One of my great sartorial regrets is selling a 100% silk shantung suit from Brioni made for Eric Clapton, of all people – the fit was lovely, but I had less than zero use for a silk suit, I’m nowhere near rakish enough for that. I can’t imagine how much a replacement from Brioni would cost.
Interesting how the fifth image from the bottom underscores in my view that (some form of) bespoke is always to be preferred regardless of how much handwork is included in a rtw- or mtm-offering. Amazing fit of your B&C suit even with torqued upper body and protruding shoulder blades.
Thanks. Yes I think bespoke often comes across best in those kind of positions and angles – much more so than straight up-and-down shots
It may be very well made, but I associate this exact aesthetic with Canali and Hugo Boss etc – which kind of ruins it for me. Exactly what you mention…shorter jackets, skinny lapels, etc. Tom Ford, on the other hand, is overpriced, but it’s also unique in its aesthetic. Off the top, I cannot think of another designer house doing the wide lapels, strong jackets, high shirt collars, etc.
Whats the story with the Prada commission?
The PR at Prada just approached me about covering their MTM service, but when we met and they showed it to me, it was not interesting in any way – not on style, not on quality, not on value
Where’s the marble sink? I kept like looking for it in the photos but couldn’t find it! Very interesting piece about the possibilities that some of the big “fashion” houses can offer and go unnoticed by classic tailoring enthusiasts like us who would normally dismiss them outright!
Ah, yeah the sink is in the bathroom upstairs. We didn’t shoot in there!
Really good article which makes me understand the one thing that baffles me about Brioni …. why they cost so much .
Their business model seems to be ‘bespoke RTW’.
I suppose , Simon, most people are ‘average’ in dimension so something like this, with a few alterations, would fit wonderfully.
The issue is the cost but then to be treated like a king whilst going thru the process might ease that thought.
Surely this is a business model that could be copied , even by other high end clothes brands , but at a lower price .
P.S. Where does all this leave Tom Ford !?
Copying a business model then executing it a lower price it works to a certain point, then every penny you take away you’re taking it from somewhere/someone.
Believe it or not I once saw a Brioni jacket in TKmaxx! if memory serves me it was rrp £5000 for £499! typically it was in a giant size.
I have seen Brioni knitwear and thought it looked lovely but at £900 I would like to know what I’m paying for , does anyone know who makes the knitwear for them ? or have experience in owning their knitwear?
At 900, for *most* knitwear, I don’t think it even matters who makes it. It’s just too much, unless it’s hand knit maybe.
Another illuminating article. I really wasn’t aware of the Brioni offering. It may well be a good option for me. A few questions:
1) I wouldn’t want the more ‘modern’ high gorge etc. You mentioned you can have whatever you want so would they be able to do the lower gorge wider shoulder slightly longer styling?
2) most specifically would this be the place for a Neapolitan soft and Spalla Camicia shoulder in the UK?
Basically obtaining a Neapolitan style in the UK.
3) What is happening on the screen in the last picture? Purely out of curiosity.
Finally, service and feeling valued is important and is a key differentiator for me, so will watch the outcome of this commission with interest.
1) Yes, they would do all that, I essentially did 2) They can certainly do that construction. However, if what you want is a Neapolitan jacket, cut and make, I would go to a Neapolitan 3) I’m talking to their head of the manufacture, on video just because of current travel restrictions.
I’m guessing that he’s not a PS reader, so not sure if we’ll get confirmation of this direct from the source, but isn’t Trump a Bironi bespoke customer?
I wonder whether the company regards him as a marketing asset or a liability?
he wears bespoke? I thought his suits were passable at best, in fact I thought it was an intentional choice for the mediocre, to appease to the common public (“I love the uneducated” etc etc).
Or maybe he just lacks the elegance, what with his jacket always unbuttoned, bright red tie, and an arrogant fake smile.
Trump has been wearing Brioni bespoke for many decades and has never worn clothes to appeal to the public. He dresses equally poorly, whether he’s trying to look like a successful businessman or a politician. He wears Brioni because he wants to look as fancy as he can, he just has no taste. If his suits done like his hair, he gives instructions down to the last detail.
I’m pretty sure he wears Brioni RTW, not bespoke, for which he apparently has not the time. He looks ridiculous anyway.
Are you sure that guy wears bespoke suits? From what I’ve seen the consensus is that those suits don’t fit him.
He only wears Bespoke. He has been having his suits made by Brioni for 30 years. The client decides how they want their suit to fit. The fit of his suits is what he chooses. That is the beauty of Bespoke compared to RTW. The client gets exactly what they want with unlimited possibilities, whether the tailor agrees with the fit/style or not. Some people like an oversized fit and some people like a very slim cut fit. But it is ALWAYS up to the client.
Really? Trump a Brioni bespoke customer? His suits have a terrible fit!
By the way, both Francois-Henri Pinault and Bernard Arnault are both lovers of Brioni suits made in Escorial finest cloth. Clearly they appreciate the workmanship and quality of fabric as they preside over some of the finest Brands in the world and still pick Brioni!
I think you’d be surprised how little many people running those kinds of companies care or focus on craft, Giles. From what I’m told from those in both companies, they appreciate the history and the preservation of many brands, but they’re not as much into the style or make
I’m frankly surprised by the price. I seem to remember reading somewhere that its bespoke service–which apparently has always been around in some form, mostly in Rome–being around USD 4,600 way back in 2006. I had assumed prices have climbed much, much higher.
Also, I’m disappointed, though not exactly surprised, that their house style has been influenced by mainstream fashion trends. I’ve always associated the classic Brioni style with Gay Talese, who was a faithful customer–very structed, very defined (and firm-looking) shoulders, normal (actually, quite broad-looking lapels) and generally quite clean.
I have to say, this has made me rather curious about the fate of Arnys, now incorporated into Berluti. Both it and Brioni are tailoring heritage brands which are now owned by the world’s two largest luxury conglomerates–Kering and LVMH, respectively.
Arnys is a very different story Chris. Not much of it remains in the Berluti manifestation now
Indeed, Simon. Unfortunately!
I know Berluti brought on the former Maison Sirven team a few years ago. Florian and Aidee both worked under Francesco Smalto.
Interesting, thanks Rob
When I was in my 20s in the 60s I thought my life would be complete if I had a Porsche convertible, a Rolex watch, and a Brioni suit. I still don’t have a Brioni suit but now…perhaps. Unfortunately even visiting tailors don’t come here to Canada. I will however be in Italy for several weeks in 2022 so it might be possible.
The tight stitching on the lapel and collar looks amazing! I am curious whether this has any major practical benefits or is this just a case of making the best possible quality but actually the marginal utility is negligible? I seem to remember pictures on this website of other top (and also expensive) makers where there were fewer stitches. Also would be curious if you could potentially elaborate on the bespoke situation at arnys/berluti if you had any info?
The smallness of the stitching doesn’t have that much impact, certainly compared to doing the stitching or not. At the same time, it becomes a little useless when it’s very loose, almost basting stitches, as you see on some Neapolitans. They’re not really trying to shape anything there.
On Arnys/Berluti, I was invited to visit them just after the sale happened (post here), and the team was the same as there had been at Arnys, and the intention seemed to be to keep much of the same style. From what I hear, though, that hasn’t been retained in the years since. It’s been much more a Berluti operation. I should emphasise the latter half is second-hand information though.
The smallness of stitching has much impact. That is the key how “stiff” you want your lapel or suit chest is. the smaller the stitches are they together tight canvas and lapel fabric. the longer the stitches are the lapel will be softer.
Same thing making the body canvas if you make long stitches to attach the chest canvas and shoulder canvas on body canvas, more softer is the suit front construction.
So, long stitching and light canvas, less layers makes soft tailoring and tight stitch and more heavy canvas, more layers makes more traditional tailoring. So simple it is
For got to say that Brioni is one of my favorite suit maker. very nice work and finishing!!
Hi permanentstyle. I always enjoy reading your reviews and articles. They are always informative. Wanted to ask a question about what you wrote about brioni having more handwork done than kiton. I have always read that kiton and Cesar Attolini have the most handwork done on their garments. Is this a new finding or brioni has increased their amount of handwork done on their garments? Thank you.
I’m afraid that’s not true about Kiton, no. I’ve visited their factory a couple of times, and they use pre-made canvases, without this handwork. Their work is more on the outside – buttonholes and so on. You can see my visit to their atelier here and here.
Very few brands do the same amount of handwork as bespoke tailors, such as those on Savile Row. But they spend much more on marketing themselves.
Brioni has always been the same as far as I know, and do more handwork, as shown here.
This is an interesting introduction. By the way, I’ve been told that upon his release from prison, Nelson Mandela’s suits were made by Brioni. And that his pic on the wall of the métro Louvre(?) in Paris – in a light grey suit, right fist raised – was made by Brioni.
Agree wholeheartedly with the frustrations of working with a traveling tailor, or a tailor you only get to visit with twice a year. Working with a local tailor is so much easier, and less frustrating. I could see an American who lives near a Brioni showroom choosing them over a Savile Row traveling tailor.
Shops like Brioni also have an enormous range of fabric. With a traveling tailor, the options can be a little more limited.
But that’s secondary to the other benefits.
Good point Craig.
I’d say most bespoke tailors have the same range of fabric as a Brioni – often more. But they don’t take all of that when they travel necessarily.
Here’s a tailor’s breakdown of a Brioni dinner jacket. In the case of that jacket, the pad stitching was done by machine, though lots of hand stitching was applied elsewhere. I wouldn’t take their claim of handwork at face value.
Thanks Ben. I wonder whether things have changed at certain points. All the ready-made I saw, not just the sample, had clearly hand-made prick stitching on the back of the lapels.
I’ll ask them for a response just in case it’s useful.
Brioni was certainly marketing its handwork back in 2010, though of course none of the press releases go into so much detail as pad stitching vs. buttonholes, etc. I’d encourage verification on a purchase-by-purchase basis.
Thanks Ben. That’s probably a good idea. I think I should also have more detail from Brioni sometime soon.
The ready to wear use a padding machine (chest, collar and lapel). They are certainly not hand padded. I have seen many example being altered so I’ve seen the guts with my own eyes (made to measure and ready to wear). The skeleton model used on display is reflective of their full bespoke.
Hi Simon: Another wonderful article. I have been a fan and consumer of Brioni clothing for a long time. Lately i have noticed that they have started displaying their logo on a lot of the polo shirts which seems in poor taste for a brand like Brioni. Do you know if this a trend in the industry or have any thoughts? Thanks Zubair
I would certainly prefer not to have a logo on a polo shirt, yes
Will be interesting to see how the final result compares to the world’s best tailors, which you have a great deal of experience with. It’s certainly in the same price bracket, so if it isn’t quite the same level of fit, how much of that differential can that be justified by the brand experience and feeling of luxury? I’ll be interested to find out.
PS. we’re gonna need more San Pellegrino…
True Alex. I think that is quite personal though?
Haven’t looked twice at Brioni since O’shea, glad to see things moving in the right direction. Will be interesting to see the end result!
Wonderful article as usual, Simon. I have a Brioni cashmere sportcoat that I bought off eBay for a song and it is one of my favorite fall pieces. Though I don’t often wear suits would love to get a more casual offering from them.
Off topic, but I hope you will do a collaboration and release a top coat or the like soon.
Hi Simon. Looks promising, but do you think there is a danger that Brioni staff arelaying on premium service because they know that they are the subject of a review?
I think that’s always a risk Michael, yes, but the thing we’re talking about rating it on here is mostly fit – and I can’t see really why they would try harder to fit something well on me rather than anybody else? Particularly with this kind of general service and price level.
As mentioned in a comment above, I also always try to talk to people I know that have had things from the brand, to try and get context. Readers too are often helpful there, as we’ve seen on service for example.
Great article Simon, I appreciate it.
I live in the western US, where there are not a whole lot of options when it comes to high end custom menswear. High end menswear is rare enough in itself, there are really only two shops in my city that that carry genuinely high quality goods.
For several months I’ve been amassing options for a first bespoke suit. All of them require travel, and it seems to be a cumbersome proposition to travel to New York or Los Angeles for a trunk show from a British or Italian house. With the current travel restrictions and potential scheduling conflicts for subsequent trunk shows, its possible that a commission could take two or three years. It would be much more practical to find a house that has brick and mortar locations in the US, where cutters and tailors reside and provide full service. those are few and far between though, off the top of my head I can only think of Henry Poole and Eric Jenson of Sartoria Gallo, both based in New York.
I would never have thought of Brioni as an option. I know they have shops in New York as well, and I think perhaps a few more spread through the country as well. perhaps not all of them (or none) offer bespoke, but its worth checking out as a potential alternative. Looking forward to a full review!
Thanks Lucas. I think it’s still the case that Huntsman and Thom Sweeney have cutters on site in New York too.
Then there’s people like Len Logsdail in New York of course. (Full article on NY tailors here)
Hello Lucas, I work for Brioni in Palm Beach and we travel the country for Bespoke appointments with our Master Tailor. No need for you to travel to a Brioni store. We come to you. Top quality service and convenience for our clients is very important to us. Would be more than happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have!
Hi Indira! Since we have an insider here, curious as to your insights on what is Brioni’s default “house style”? As mentioned above, I always associate it with highly structured shoulders, fairly clean chest and a cut that is a bit close to the body but I wonder if I have been mistaken. And it’s more influenced by fashion trends–which now means short jackets, slim lapels and low gorges. Thanks.
Chris, just from what I saw in the store, and talked to he staff about, the default is certainly not structured shoulders. Most things are soft, with some jackets have inset shoulders or spalla camicia, and even shirring. And high gorges not low, but perhaps that’s what you meant.
Where’s the marble sink photo?
That was in the bathroom… we didn’t shoot there
And you got us all excited about it!
Nice article. Their approach of luxury makes me think to MTM Ralph Lauren Purple Label, although there maybe many differences in the making. but same range of price, and same decorum for the customer.
True Fred. Ralph MTM doesn’t have the level of handwork by a long way, but design-wise it’s much more my cup of tea
Relatively unrelated question, As you were walking through Mayfair I’m sure you saw lots of men wearing vests and gilets which have become de rigueur for some of us in Autumn. Is this a sartorial no-no? I was wondering why you’ve not-covered this garment which seems to be on the up, and not only with the finance crowd, by my own assessment. Seb
I generally dislike gilets worn as part of a smarter work outfit. It’s easy, but it just doesn’t fit, in terms of style or proportions. It’s worst of all when guys wear them under suit jackets, and you can see the puffy lines of the gilet pressing against the back of the jacket.
Gilets worn as more casual outerwear though, can be fantastic. See here for an old one of mine in suede – too small really, but still lovely. And here for a great casual deerskin one for the outdoors.
The line between ‘bespoke’ and what some Italian houses offer as standard is somewhat blurred.
I can remember visiting Kiton when they first opened a store in London some years ago and they were somewhat dismissive of some the Savile Row houses bespoke efforts compared to their handmade ready-to-wear items.
I’m not sure why anyone would go to Brioni to get a ‘bespoke’ suit if you didn’t particularly like their House style, it would seem to defeat the object, although I can quite understand that getting along well with their tailors is beneficial.
Just in case you haven’t seen it Neil, here’s my review of Kiton’s top-level service, and visit to where it’s made
“House style and cut” have nothing to do with Brioni Bespoke. This is not made to measure. Very few houses in the U.S. offer Bespoke. With Brioni Bespoke, you choose exactly what you want. A Brioni Master Tailor takes your measurements and you choose all of the details. Bespoke offers unlimited possibilities as opposed to MTM. Thousands of fabrics to choose from. If you want longer length jacket, pleated pants, slim, shorter cut, double breasted, 3 button, double vent, single vent, no vent…anything you want, we can do. Want us to copy a suit you already have? We can do that too. That is why we have such a strong Bespoke business. It is what our company was founded on.
In my follow-up piece on this, the full review, I’ll certainly show how much they can make that change from standard styles
I’ve been a Brioni fan for more than 30 years and you’re right about the excellence of staff and attention to detail. I had my first Brioni made for me in Italy around 1985. 20 years later, I took the same suit to a Brioni shop here in the states and they treated the suit (and me) as if it had been 2 months. ‘nough said!
On the US East Coast, Brioni and a Rolex with shiny Santoni shoes is the uniform for the more-money-than-taste contingent, from DC up to Hartford, CT and its insurance industry. You see it especially on people in real estate and big pharma. The Zegna cut (especially the jackets made in Switzerland) fit me off the rack with very little alteration, so I’ve never been tempted to buy a new Brioni, with its less hard-wearing fabric and at half again or more the cost. But I’ve picked up a couple of Brioni sports jackets at consignment shops and what has always amazed me is that, to a one, these five-thousand dollar suits were finished by the department store tailor with no more finesse than you’d get in a three-suits-for-$999 sale at Men’s Wearhouse. I’ve had to bring them to a proper tailor, get all new buttons, the sleeve-length right, and have actual buttonholes sewn into the sleeves. In one case, the former wearer hadn’t even undone the tacking thread on the rear vents. I have to assume that, as with the flash Rolexes and bright red power ties, the point is not to look good, but rather to be seen to spend money. Which is why (reverse snobbery, I guess) I almost never wear the two Brionis I’ve hung onto anywhere anyone might know what the brand implies… But the make is gorgeous, I will say, and the precision of the armholes in particular sets them apart even from other high-end RTW.
Where can we read your account of your bad experience with Prada MTM?
I have jackets and coats and trousers and shoes from Prada ready-to-wear and they are all outstanding both in workmanship and in style — among my favourites.
I didn’t pursue the Prada MTM, because on first meeting it was clear it was something that I’d recommend, in terms of quality or style. As with most things, I was honest and up front with them about what I thought, and we agreed it didn’t make sense to pursue it.
If I had thought it could be worth covering, but the final result was not great, then I would have covered it in full. But as this never got started, I didn’t even cover it.
Obviously I can’t speak to your particular jackets, but what I saw from Prada was quite basic suiting without any finesse or handwork to lift it above a much cheaper suit. And the style was for pretty skinny and short.
Late comment, but wow, so sorry to hear this. I have Prada suits from the past, and they’re quite well made (at least to my eye). I believe all my Prada suits were made by Belvest. I haven’t bought anything major since the pandemic began, and I know the brand has been jacking up prices crazily and severely cutting corners to appease shareholders during this time, so I’m not sure if they’ve moved on from Belvest and gone with a cheaper maker. Is the MTM not by Belvest anymore, or does the PR rep even know/care?
They certainly wouldn’t care, or would consider it irrelevant. It’s all about the design. But I don’t know if they’ve changed
When I read “(n)ot knowing much about the Brioni product… ” I re-read it because I thought I misread the sentence. I was shocked and thought how could you not know much about Brioni product being in the clothing game? Interesting.
I think it’s clear from a lot of reader reactions here, that most people feel similarly – Brioni is dismissed for being too expensive and just for rich Russians. It’s much more natural to focus on brands that obviously talk more about the heritage and craft side.
I can’t wait to see the full review. For those of us who don’t have a local bespoke option it would be good to hear whether Brioni ends up being a good option. Thank you.
In 1995 I attended the Dunhill boutique in HK and bought a Dunhill branded double breasted blazer (“worsted super 100’s wool”). I was piqued to find out later that it was made in Italy by Brioni of all people. However, I was soon swayed from my concern by the excellent craftsmanship on the jacket and if their craftsmanship is the same today I would have no hesitation in recommending their products. Incidentally, when I visited Gieves & Hawkes in Savile Row, a year or two before 1995, the salesman informed me that their RTW suits were made by Brioni.
Interesting to know on Dunhill. They’ve never had their own suit manufacture, but I didn’t realise they used Brioni.
On Gieves, I know they’ve swapped several times over the years in terms of their manufacture. They used Cheshire Bespoke in the UK after Brioni, and then switched to a cheaper maker in Italy. Unfortunately they haven’t been consistent their in terms of maker and quality
I put Brunello Cucinelli in the same category pricewise as Brioni and Kiton. Not too sure what you know about the first-named at least quality-wise. I know Cucinelli virtually runs a whole village and his prices might reflect the cost of running it! Isaia I put below those 3 and Zegna a bit below Isaia. Is it a fair summary?
Cucinelli I would definitely put below Brioni and Kiton. I’ve seen MTM tailoring from then and it’s not great, and there’s none of the handwork we go into here. I’ve also visited Solomeo, and lovely as it is, it’s got nothing to do with the quality of the garments.
I don’t know enough about Isaia or Zegna to rate those, having not used them. But of these I’d put Brioni top, then Kiton, and with Cucinelli at probably the same level as Zegna, just expensive
It’s worth watching the documentary Men of the cloth from about 10 years ago that covers three old master Italian tailors. Amongst this they cover the Brioni workshop and school in Penne, you also see Donald Trumps pattern hanging up in the pattern room.
Of course, thanks I’d forgotten that. I haven’t watched that in years, thanks for the reminder
Quick question about a couple pictures above. There are a pair of trousers that have the pockets sticking out. Is this a choice you made or have you just not tailored this garment yet?
You mean the green ones I’m wearing? No, those are finished. As you can read on the original review of the suit, it was an issue with the fit we had. Pretty much the only issue, but it is also one that is exacerbated on me as I use my trouser pockets heavily
It will be interesting to see what this “rich old man” brand will turn out for you. Unfortunately for me, this brand and its style reminds me of highly corrupt politicians and businessmen speaking in DAVOS
“But the house style does tend towards the mainstream aesthetic of shorter jacket, close fit and high gorge.”
I know you don’t like a high gorge Simon but I don’t think you have ever explained why in a systematic way. Maybe there is an article to be written about how gorge height (and other style choices) affect how a jacket looks.
Sure, good idea Peter
Very nice, thanks for the writeup. Jeffery Diduch took apart a Brioni dinner jacket some years ago and concluded that the pad stitching had been done by machine, though not using an automated machine. I don’t have the expertise to be able to tell but he certainly does.
Thanks Andrew. Yes, that’s referred to in the comments above. As mentioned there, I’m questioning the Brioni management about this currently
Excited to see you cover this, Simon. As a New Yorker, I’ve considered Brioni bespoke, as it seems like there would be less time between fittings (particularly when there was a travel ban here during Covid peaks). As a fan of the military/equestrian padded shoulder initially shopping RTW, I gravitated first towards Tom Ford, but I was disappointed in the MTM suit I ordered from them. I now want to try Huntsman bespoke at their NYC location for my next suit. However, I did always love Pierce Brosnan’s old Brioni suits as 007 in the 90s. Today’s Brioni seems to favor a softer shoulder, higher button stance, and a shorter coat, so I didn’t think they would be the best choice for my tastes. I know their bespoke program says that they can achieve the “old look,” but since Huntsman’s house style is already closer stylistically, I am leaning towards going with them instead. Still though, I remain curious about Brioni bespoke…
Looking forward to seeing your final garments and thoughtful assessment, as always!
From my experience so far, I’d say you can alter many things with Brioni, including the length and button stance.
But I went with a very soft shoulder, so I can’t comment much on their ability to do a strong padded one.
I rather like a lot of what Brioni does, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out and if the result of your requests still looks like Brioni. Although there has been a fair amount of variety in the style of their tailoring so I don’t think there is an obvious Brioni cut. Certain consistencies, yes, but overall it can be more confusing than, say, Attolini.
A quick look at their online offerings and I like the 3 roll 2 ‘Amalfi’ cut.
I used to work in the area of Bruton Street and occasionally I’d pop into the store. The lady was very friendly. I’d express an interest in a coat and she’d dissappear, returning with an armful for me to try. I remember one costing £12,000. (About half the price of the 100% Vicuna coat I tried on at Kiton).
Oddly, I can remember seeing a shirt with hand-sewn buttonholes and other details on the table display at Brioni. I was surprised as I’ve never seen this on any Brioni shirt before or since. Was this available when ordering your shirt?
Thanks Matt. Yes, they did offer handsewn buttonholes on the shirts
I’m actually surprised that the Brioni tailoring has impressed you, especially the internals. I’d heard chatter on the menswear scene in recent years that the quality had declined and that people who had opened up Brioni jackets were not impressed. Perhaps this information is itself dated. Perhaps there was a ‘bad spell’; perhaps it’s baseless rumour.
I was impressed, though as mentioned above I’m also clarifying the hand padding point as it looks like that one point is not correct.
Hi Simon, have you tried the bespoke service at Dunhill or Stefano Ricci, if not, do you plan on doing so in the future?
No, no plans for either I’m afraid. Dunhill has often seemed a little changeable as to what their approach to bespoke is, though I can see it could have a similar appeal to Brioni in terms of luxury experience.
Ricci is too way off my aesthetic to even consider I’m afraid. It’s just so flash. I was given a press tour when the new store opened in London a few years ago, and I have to say I was even more put off
Have you come across a Roman tailor called Sagripanti? I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bespoke suit of theirs, which is of wonderful quality, great design (house cut), top-notch details, and excellent fit – seems like the guy it was meant for was very similarly built to me, with slightly straighter shoulders.
Sorry, no I haven’t Stephan
“I was even impressed by the quality of the ready-to-wear tailoring.”
You don’t have to say “even” Simon. 🙏🏼😇
Interesting article. The Italians are MUCH better at doing this stuff at scale than the Brits. This may be the greatest Achilles heel of British tailoring. Anything which is both at scale and high quality can pretty much NOT be made in the UK. Love to hear proof to the contrary.
I also do not like Brioni’s house style but they are a high quality outfit.
No you’re right – unfortunately we lost our tailoring manufacturing years ago.
Do you have aproximately numbers of annual production the largest bespoke ateliers and how they compare with Brioni bespoke in that?
And who is the largest in England, Napoli, and other Italy. In France the answer is most likele – Cifonelly (I guess near 1000 garments in a year).
Very interesting who is the global king of the hill in propper bespoke.
I don’t I’m afraid VAL, sorry. It’s fairly clear from the sizes of workshops that the likes of Poole, Huntsman and Anderson & Sheppard are among the biggest in England, but it’s hard to get any real numbers.
Out of interest, why do you want to know? I wouldn’t say it’s that good a sign of who’s the best quality wise
I see. To be honest I’m not sure size is a great indicator of that either – you only have to look at Michael Browne, one of the smallest but with a really strong reputation. Equally Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, whom I really rate, are a long way from being one of the big names.
Even in terms of style, these things take a very long time to turn. Neapolitan style is certainly more popular these days, but that doesn’t mean the big English houses have got a lot smaller, more that there are fewer houses perhaps.
Sorry if this isn’t that helpful!