Speciale: Fine Florentine tailoring and haberdashery

||- Begin Content -||

Speciale is a beautiful little shop in the west of London, making fine bespoke tailoring and unique shirts and knits. I should have covered Bert and George earlier and I haven't, and it's entirely my fault. 

My only excuse is location. Speciale is at the top end of the Portobello Road, known for its market (made more famous recently by Paddington) but otherwise not on the menswear radar. It's not really close to anything else, even in west London.

Still, my job is to seek these things and I should have done so before now. Hopefully today's article will help make up for it. 

First things first. 'Speciale' is not just a name picked by two guys that want to say they're special in Italian. It was the name of the Florentine tailor, Lettorio Speciale, whose work inspired George to become a tailor. 

George (below) had been at art school in Florence when he was introduced to the tailor Lorenzo Albrighi in Santo Spirito. (The square where all the students hang out - if you want to feel old while in Florence, go there.) 

Albrighi was the last tailor to be trained by Speciale, and was wearing a jacket he’d made. George was so taken with it that he dropped out and moved to live in Albrighi’s workshop in Milan. 

In 2014, George returned to London having finished his apprenticeship. That’s where he met Bert, and the two set up a tailoring business out of Battersea. George returned to Tuscany three years later, to work under the coatmaker Mauro Fanfani and then with Liverano in Florence. 

Bert also moved to Italy and worked for a small tailor, Rosario Sagliano. But by 2019, both were back in London, having found it hard to earn a living in Italy. Once back they decided to set up on their own, with Bert (below, right) focusing on the shop and brand rather than tailoring. 

“I loved tailoring but I felt I’d hit a point where I had the hang of it enough - paradoxically - to realise I wasn’t actually that good, certainly compared to George or the people I looked up to,” he says. 

The approach to the shop was partly inspired by the Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery, with its determination to not sell tailored jackets or coats but everything you’d wear with them - at the same high standard. 

“There was also this uniform you wore as a tailor at your board, of a shirt and sweater every day,” says Bert. “We wanted to replicate that, though often with our particular take.”

The shop has been slow to fill up, but you can see their point of view in both the shirts and the knitwear. The V-neck knits and vests, for example, have a particularly deep neckline that’s accentuated by the short body (designed to wear with high-waisted trousers). 

The knitwear is mostly cotton, with a small(ish) armhole to make them easier to wear with tailoring, but a generous body, and an unusual mix of ribbing - 2x2 on the collar but 1x1 on the cuffs and hem. 

Bert and George have tweaked things over time - those knits are now 3cm longer than they used to be - but I'd say they're still best with high-waisted trousers. I bought a Large in the navy crewneck above, for example, and while the cotton, the colour and the neckline are perfect, the sleeves are rather long. With the pale-blue vest, I was best in an Extra Large (pictured) but that meant a fair bit of extra room in the body. 

The knits were also designed to be unisex, with a full range of sizes that men and women can pick through depending on how they like the fit. Emilie Hawtin wears both the vests and the shirts beautifully - as mentioned in her piece for us here

This means there aren't many at the top end of the size range for men. Lucas, for example, [Nicholson, Permanent Style] was too large for the range and normally wears a 44-chest jacket.

The shirts are also in a process of transition, being made now in exclusive cloths for the first time - high-count cottons that have a silky feel, with unusual asymmetric stripes. 

Unfortunately when we visited only two of the colours had arrived, the others being stuck in customs. But they showed the aesthetic well I think, both being unusual but subtle stripes - cream on blue and the reverse, blue on cream. I tried a size 15.5 and it was a nice fit, with a point collar and a generous body without being overly big. 

Around the shop there are also other bits and pieces, often with a Florentine theme. The jewellery of Ranfagni, for instance, and display shoes from Saskia Wittmer. “Florence meant so much to us,” says Bert, “it made sense to have this in the shop”.

“Same goes for the ties from Sevenfold. I know the embroidered designs are a little quirky, but we couldn’t believe there was no other stockist in the UK.”

Of course, the main interest of many PS readers will be the tailoring - so what’s that like? 

George’s tailoring is more or less directly descended from Speciale, a small house that produced Florentine tailoring fairly similar to others we’ve covered such as Liverano and Vestrucci - no front dart, straight front edge, soft make and a lot of hand work. 

“Generally in Florentine tailoring the block is quite basic,” says Bert. “You’ve only got one dart to help you, so its really left to the making to give a jacket its expression and bring it to life. And there is a unique depth of largely unseen hand and iron work that goes into prepping and making each element of the jacket.

“It’s this that gives it more shape, longevity and cleanliness: how little excess and bulk there is left in a corner of a lapel, how little lip there is at the top of the welt pocket, how clean the roll of the lapel or sleeve-head is, how flush the lapel sits on the chest etc.” 

The making really is impressive, and something I think I'll end up returning to on PS for more detail.

There’s also a functionality to Florentine handwork that I always admire - but Bert describes better than me: “The thing is the jacket should wear and look better because of the extra work, that’s the key: the philosophy is about practicality, not just prettification. It can even be quite brutal to that end in places.”

As an example of this brutality, Bert points out the the hand seam that’s sewn one centimetre in from the edge of the lapel, but which is so tight it looks like machine work. We’re looking at the old Speciale jacket they have (above) and I would never have spotted that for the work of hand and needle. 

“That locks the lapel forever,” he says. “It really is built around the assumption you’re going to live in it.” 

If anyone wants any more details on the tailoring now, the Speciale story highlights on Instagram have quite a lot, as do the Bespoke photos in the Specialeworld section of the website. 

Speciale is at 324 Portobello Road, Notting Hill.


Prices (including VAT): 

  • Bespoke suits from £4884
  • Bespoke jackets from £3806
  • Bespoke coats from £4994

Timelines are normally around six months for a first customer, with three fittings. There is no travelling currently, but trunk shows to Los Angeles are planned for next year. 

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lindsay McKee

This is just fantastic Simon!
Another new bespoke tailor from the UK!
I’m sure you would like to commission something in the future…a super post today!


… and where do I get these hangers?

Nicholas Van der

Thank you. Exactly what I read PS for. I love Florentine knit ware, so will be calling in.


What’s the shirt your’re wearing there in the black & white picture?


I thought so, that’s why I asked. In this picture it doesn’t look like anything special.


We see what you did there. Very clever indeed


Hi Simon,

Great find firstly!

Just looking at their website now and seeing their jeans which look like they might be a good fit, but no measurements. Might give them a call to query!

Don’t suppose you had a gander at them when you were there? Says ‘made in England’, could be BHLA- made perhaps? I’d be very interested if that’s the case, haven’t been able to find a light-wash pair made by them since Drakes switched to Portugal….

Appreciate you thoughts as always.



Oh wow- I wasn’t actually aware BHL had just brought this new model out. I’m near them over the weekend- might pop in and try them on!

Do you know- was the Speciale cut similar in hem width to this new BHL model?

Apologies to swiftly derail the conversation on to another company here….



Which BLA model has Speciale used or is it a new one? The rise looks quite high and could be what I’m looking for.


I really love the crew neck sweater style, pure cotton is such a underrated material for them because they tend to age so nicely. How do they compare to the new Rubato Nonpareil crew neck from Rubato? The shirts are also cool, they give a chic 70s vibe for me somehow haha!
As always thanks for sharing!

Eric Twardzik

Those cotton crewnecks are something-particularly the cream color, which is just the right custard-yellow shade.

How would you describe their thickness/weight? More of a spring/summer item, or appropriate for fall/winter?

Nicolas Strömbäck

Great! But why so small sizing? Even in Italy you can get 44 chest and larger in RTW.

Nicolas Strömbäck

Makes sense.


Is this a unique or an unusual thing to offer? I’m aware there are some brands, especially in the last decade or so, that have a unisex or a somewhat shapeless look to appeal to both men and women but none have ever appealed to me.

At first glance I do like this style/cut. While it’s supposed to fit with tailoring it has an appealing cut on it’s own that flatters the body. For example, you have mentioned that your legs are short in proportion to the rest of your body yet in the photos above it visually appears to a be a good balance between the upper and lower body.

I am a little surprised at the limit of the sizing though. Even when trying to appeal to women also. It’s not like larger men don’t exist in great numbers and the chest sizes offered at the upper end aren’t very big at all. Mind, I have never fully understood how sizing is supposed to work in RTW and I imagine it’s very difficult thing to balance when the fact is that people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.


Thanks for the tip.

I’m a 43″ chest, however my torso isn’t that long in comparison and I often find when I size up from a medium to a large that the drop is then too long. I also don’t mind extra give around the chest if it’s snug at the waist as I like that silhouette as it suits my build. It’s also a flattering cut I think on most people.

I have had my eye on the Rugby but had planned on trying both sizes on in person at some point perhaps at your pop-up . Going by the measurements and comparing with what I already own I thought that the chest in the medium and possibly even the large would be too snug, and if the chest in the large was ok, the drop may be a little too long. Realise of course you can’t be all things to all people.


Hi Simon
This looks a very interesting establishment. I look forward to visiting at some point. You provide a great service bringing new and even some established shops to a wider audience. I’ve lost count how many on my part, which include Cutch Cafe, The Real McCoys and Berg & Berg among many others.


Thanks Simon – like others, I really appreciate you bringing awareness of these smaller companies to a broader audience. Great also to see a younger generation of tailors trying to establish themselves – including also Anglo in this sentiment with their new(ish) bespoke offering.
Do you know if they will be offering their knitwear in wools/cashmere/other in the winter months or in future?
Thank you! James


All the knitwear in the shop turns over to cashmere in September (though both stay online), sorry Simon should have mentioned.
The styles in cashmere are the same design, ply, gauge etc, as the cotton, with a couple of extra styles added.

Il Pennacchio

George’s tailoring is more or less directly descended from Speciale, a small house that produced Florentine tailoring fairly similar to others we’ve covered such as Liverano and Vestrucci – no front dart, straight front edge, soft make and a lot of hand work.

Liverano and Vestrucci typically cut straight lapels, but those on the old single-breasted jacket—made by Lettorio Speciale himself, I assume?—have belly.
Liverano and Vestrucci’s lapels come to a markedly pointed angle whereas Speciale’s come to a wider and more gentle one.
It’s difficult to tell without seeing the jacket worn on a body, but the buttoning point also appears lower than contemporary Florentine tailors usually place.
Florentine tailoring like Liverano and Vestrucci is often described as “round”, but the lack of pointed angles (except for those square patch pockets!) makes Speciale feel rounder still. To be honest, I think I like it more.

Il Pennacchio

Oh, that looks much more typically “Florentine”: straight pointy lapels, high buttoning point. But that’s only made me more curious about why the old jacket diverged so much from Florentine style.


Are you having something made? Would be interested to read the review and seems a good endeavor to support.


A very small point but I have to highlight the wonderful font they use in their name/branding. It subliminally tells you an awful lot about the brand.

Dan S

I have been following Speciale from afar for a while and when in London last May, I was introduced to them through a friend. Lovely guys, clothes, and a beautiful shop.
Being a graphic designer myself, we talked about the logo, as it reminded me of the more vernacular typography used on shop windows and doors in Italy. Turns out the typeface is a direct reference to a label used by Florentine tailors back in the day (if I remember correctly).
Italian typography back then was kind of funky, but with the industrial roots still visible.

Dan S

You‘re welcome.
It‘s nice to see a studio/brand with an original approach to typography, for once, as often – within menswear – that part of a visual identity seems to be treated with almost boilerplate ideas of classicism and tradition, when actually so much more could be expressed by just going slightly off the beaten track.

Dan James

Really like the navy blue jacket. Looks ideal for summer or late autumn. Is it a wool + something mix?
The buttons look as though they are placed very closely together (could the angle of the photo)-is that their style?

Dan James

Thank you. Look forward to it.


Simon, how do the knits compare to others for example brycelands or rubato or mccoy ?


Hi Simon – do you have any plans to do an article on Tom Arena? Apologies for jumping onto someone else just as you’ve covered someone new here, but both feel like part of a slightly different styles for London.


Hi Simon,
Thanks for this report. It looks like a lovely haberdashery, very chic!


Great stuff, fortunate enough to be able to count George as a friend. Any plans to cover Paley Mundy soon?


I’m not clear as to why you don’t cover more local up and coming tailors? It seems like such an obvious thing to do, if you want to support the craft?

Alex R

Are those fabrics in the picture below the blue striped shirt a preview of shirts to come? Because some of those stripes are beautiful!


Is there a typo here? Do you mean “are perfect”?

“I bought a Large in the navy crewneck above, for example, and while the cotton, the colour and the neckline and perfect,”


may i ask
what s the trouser you are wearing with navy crew neck picture?
Thank you


Very curious about the grey linen as well.