Why Ferdinando Caraceni is closing: An interview with Nicoletta Caraceni

Monday, March 11th 2024
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Ferdinando Caraceni is one of the world's best-regarded bespoke tailors, based in Milan. It has been run since his death in 2004 by Ferdinando's daughter, Nicoletta, and they have made me three jackets over the past 10 years. You can see them and other background information on their brand page here. Recently Nicoletta announced that the house would be closing. She granted PS the sole interview. 

Hi Nicoletta, I was very sad to hear about the atelier closing after so long. Why did you feel you had to?

It had been a long time Simon - I started work there when I was 23 years old, under my father. I had been visiting the shop with him for longer than that though. I remember on Sundays I would be told to ‘go with Papa’, and I would think we were going to the gardens in the car. But no, it would be here, to the atelier, where he had some things to do.

Alora…when I started I was 23 years old, and I was very silent. This was 1982. It wasn’t an easy time for a woman to be in a bespoke atelier. The first two years I was very silent.

What was your job back then, what did you do?

I greeted customers, I helped, but most of all I watched. My father [Ferdinando Caraceni] always said that was the most important thing - to observe, to develop l’occhio, the eye. So I would be in the fittings and watch everything, and then hear my father and the tailors talk about it afterwards - ‘did you see the fit of the shoulder?’, ‘yes, it had a defect’. You learnt to see what they did.

But when I had nothing to do, he said I should go and find some fabric, blow off the dust, and touch and understand it. My father was passionate about fabrics, more than anything else. He could identify anything just by feeling it, closing his eyes. And he taught me to do the same - to feel whether it was worsted or woollen, to know the weight (always in ounces, not grams).

Have you found materials have changed in the past 40 years?

Yes, you can see that from the cloth we have in the shop. Particularly in things like cashmere coats. In the past they might have made an amount of cashmere into 100,000 metres, but today it is 200,000. There is so much less in every centimetre, and then it is pressed to take the life out of it.

I assume much of that is how expensive good raw materials have become over the years, and yet how many people want cashmere. It’s hard to keep it affordable.

You’re right, you understand. And whenever they have the choice, they find ways to make it cheaper and take the quality out of it, because nobody notices. It is a death of culture in a way, of understanding quality.

I have a coat of my father’s from 1978 which I still wear today, 50 years later - like my smoking [dinner jacket, covered here]. It is still perfect.

Did you ever want to hand over the business to your children, in the same way as your father did to you?

I have two boys, but I never forced them, because I understand that I have a very idealistic idea of this job. I think you have to have a real passion for it, otherwise you just can’t do it at the best level.

Did they want to be involved at any point in their lives?

They never asked. I often brought them into the atelier when they were small - I would tell them to come with Mama and show them everything. But I never saw in them that desire - they never said ‘Mama, it is so beautiful, I want to learn’.

I was different. I remember when I was at college, before university, my father would say I should come to Paris with him, to help. I was very excited, but all I saw was the inside of the car, and clients’ homes. We would visit Yves Saint Laurent’s house, Madame Rochas’s home, Mr Caracciolo, Michel Guy, the French Minister of Culture at the time, but I saw nothing of Paris.

Still, that first trip was an epiphany for me, I loved it and it was the first time I really understood my father. Before then when I was asked in school what my father is, I would say he was a tailor - fine, he makes suits. But this is when I understood the artist he was, the affection these people had for him.

Perhaps I have already told you this Simon, but the first time I saw Mr Yves Saint Laurent it was in his house, we were waiting, and then a door opened, he came out and said ‘Buongiorno Maestro!’, in Italian, and they hugged. In that moment something changed.

What did you help with on those trips?

Sometimes it was to translate. I was studying French and he would tell me ‘tomorrow you don’t go to school, you come with me’.

Is the problem today that young people have more choice? That your sons feel they can do anything where perhaps you did not?

I’m not sure actually. In the eighties there were many choices. When I took my degree they offered me a place at the university. My thesis was important, it was in Anglo-American literature, and they offered me a job as an assistant. Or I could have been a journalist - young people in the eighties had more choices than they do now. Today many people emigrate; there are fewer jobs in Italy.

So I don’t think it was this. I just think craftsmanship jobs need great passion. You understand, you have to be at a table for eight, nine hours with a needle in your hand. It takes a love of things made by hand.

But that’s also different, right? That’s about tailors, rather than you or your sons who would have been running the business. Is the real problem a lack of young tailors?

Yes perhaps you are right. From 1980 to when my father died in 2004, things were empty, there were no young tailors. When fashions came in the eighties, everyone wanted to be a stylist. People came to us from Marangoni [the school in Milan] and they wanted a job. We asked what they could do and they said they could design suits. But here you design nothing! You learn how to do a great jacket, and you collaborate with the customer.

My father was very sad in the last years, about the future of the business. But then, from maybe 2010 I finally saw some young people who wanted to be tailors. They’ve been to a sewing school and they want to learn. And I invested a lot in them.

So what went wrong?

Many things. There are many young people who after three years of work, consider themselves finished tailors. I said to them, ‘Listen, when my father was 81, he said he had a beautiful job because there was always something to learn’. This job, if you want to be a great tailor, takes a very long time.

People want to open their own shop now, after a very short time. I see a lot of these, but in my opinion a lot of them are not ready.

I had one young girl, who was not very good when she started with us, but first we taught her to make buttonholes, then do trousers, then to make a fitting, and then this and then this. And after four years of all this training, she decided to leave to go to Dolce & Gabbana. No! From Caraceni to Dolce Gabbana! But she went and it is all lost.

What is happening to the people you do have still working with you?

One is going back to Korea. Two are setting up on their own. Another is taking a sabbatical, travelling. But they are all young people - the old ones retired. I tried to find replacements - some with some experience, but none of them worked out. I tried five in the past three years.

They came from other tailoring houses, too. But after three or six months I said no, no thank you. The work wasn’t good enough, or they wouldn’t respect what we did enough to learn. They wouldn’t try and understand our shoulder, our lapel.

So it was a problem of not being willing to adapt?

Yes but also not being able to.

My plan was, by the time I was 65, this year, to have 10 people in the atelier who could take over together. To have some sort of cooperative, so they all owned the business, they all profited. But I just couldn’t find the people.

My father would say, ‘If you are not stupid, within five or six years everyone can learn to make a jacket. Everyone. But making something beautiful, that is admired, that is not something everyone can do’.

What else does it take?

A bigger understanding of what makes the jacket beautiful, harmonious. Things things like proportion. Understanding what proportions work well on somebody - not just the body but for instance the head too. There are plenty of men with big bodies and tiny heads, many with small bodies and big heads. To translate all of this into a jacket, all of this in harmony, shoulders in proportion with the head, lapels in proportion with the chest - this is the jacket you look at in the street and admire.

Men are so restricted in these clothes. They can wear single breasted or double breasted. So when you see two men in a double breasted - and one is beautiful, one is urgh - then it is in this making, this proportion. Big and small details all in complete harmony.

How universal are these ideas of proportion?

Ah yes good question, and you of course can compare Simon, you have so many different styles in your wardrobe!

People have their different styles, I know this. You and I have talked about this, and you know I don’t like the shoulders of your other suits - they look so sad, they go down. But I can see the style there, that is different.

Where do you think an existing customer should go, if they still want tailoring like yours?

I can’t say, I never talk about other tailors, you know this. Others have their own style, it is not like ours. I would only say that in general that true, great true bespoke tailors are very few today.

When we had those tailors, we paid them well, I wanted them to stay with us. And they did -  Sergio was with us for 42 years, Rocco for 32, Anna for 25. People who stay with you for their whole lives, because they are family, and they grow with you. People who learn your calligraphy, as my father said.

Have you been trying to finish off all the commissions you still have?

Yes we have been telling everybody to come, though some will not, maybe because they are abroad. When you have customers in New York, in Argentina, in Mexico, they may not come for a year. But we need to stop sometime, otherwise I never will.

What are you doing with other things in the atelier, like the cloth?

We are asking customers and friends to come round, to buy some. Then the rest I will sell.

Has anyone offered to buy the business?

Yes, it happened a lot when I first started telling people that we were closing. One family I told, that we had made for the grandfather, the father, now the sons, they were really shocked, telling me no, I couldn’t do this.

I had some lovely letters from clients in London, in New York. They said they would create a society of the best clients, to help. But it’s not a financial problem, the demand is not the problem. It is the tailors.

And I don’t want to carry on producing just for producing. I don’t want to produce anything less. You see some tailors, and people say ‘Oh it’s not the same as it was, the quality has reduced’. I want to live in the memories of people instead, a fine sweet memory.

Do you think there’s a particular problem with tailors planning for succession? Not many seem to manage this well unless there is a willing son or daughter. When people do leave tailoring houses, they always seem to set up on their own, rather than joining forces.

Yes it is difficult. Because even if those tailors could all work together, it needs one vision, one passion to drive things.

I am a little polemic, you know this. We have known each other for many years and you know me. But you need that kind of attitude to keep these things going.

And I feel that in the past 30 years we have seen changes such as took place in the previous 300. The big fault, the big reason things have got worse especially in tailoring craftsmanship, is fashion. Fashion has destroyed so many crafts.

You see the news today, and it’s ‘He was seen in Cannes, on the red carpet wearing this flawless (!!) dinner jacket by XXX (some famous brand) and it’s terrible! It doesn’t fit at all! But all that matters is the actor, the name, the brand, the event. All marketing.

Does this make beauty? No. It has nothing to do with it. People today are losing the capacity for understanding Beauty - how things are made and what makes them beautiful. They have lost their personal sense of Beauty, and they have lost the Culture.

It’s all about culture in the end. I always say that for my clients to come to us, it was a cultural choice as much as a clothing one. They were cultured people, they had their table made by hand, their sofa, not just their shirts, their shoes. These things were all made hand, by craftsmen - not by brands - and they understood them.

It was a joy to serve these kind of people, because they appreciated the art. It was a joy to see them collect a finished garment, to examine it, to put it on, and love it.

Today - it happened to me about a year ago - someone came in and said ‘I always go to Prada, to Gucci. But now I think I want a Caraceni in my wardrobe’.

I kindly told him I was too full of orders and I let him go away... This is the sad state of things today. I will be no part of it.

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I think this is called the end of an era… the amount of men who are buying tailored garments since the pandemic is not sustainable. I wore suits four or five days a week before the pandemic, 75% of which were bespoke. I’ve worn a bespoke suit fewer than half a dozen times since the pandemic, let alone commissioned any more. I can’t be the only one. Although I suspect that many of the outliers will be subscribers to PS and hence may not be indicative of the broader market.


That is also my perception. As a lawyer, I probably wear suits still a lot more often than most people, but only when I have a court or arbitration hearing (on average once every week). Three business suits in navy, charcoal and gray are enough for me, which – having a second pair of trousers for each of them – I can and will keep for a very long time because I wear them so rarely.

Wouter de Clerck

Second that, Markus. Hearings seem to be the only remaining professional occasion when one can still go “full formal” without standing out. But even that seems to be changing – in the Netherlands at least – with some lawyers foregoing a tie before judges or arbitrators. At other events (meetings, conferences) I find that I go through a thought process about the expected level of formality of the people I will be meeting with or speaking to. Considerations like these have of course been covered by Simon in his articles.
Anyway, it is nice to know there is another arbitration lawyer on this forum!


I met a colleague the other day who wore jeans and sneakers to court, not to mention the absence of a tie.


Dear Wouter,
Always great to see a fellow Dutch tailoring enthusiast here! Any go tips for a good tailor here in the Netherlands? Looking to expand my range a bit.


I don’t think she blames lack of business as her reason for closing down does she?


As a client of Ferdinando Caraceni, I can definitely confirm that the demand was there. Every time I went into the cutting room I would see the list of orders that they were working on and the names of the clients. The bulk of their business came from well known industrialists, financiers and businessmen in Italy, Switzerland and France. This type of client ordered several garments a year, every year, and are not the type of people who stopped wearing tailored clothing because they are now working from home.

Professionals who are passionate about tailoring, like me, used to be a larger part of her clientele, but towards the end it was a pretty small percentage. The trend towards more casual clothing may have had some impact this type of clientele and on new customer acquisition, but it didn’t have much of an impact on the core client base.

On the other hand, the impact of not finding workers was noticeable. When I started going in 2017, there were around 8-10 people working there. By 2023, there were 3-4. That led to delays with new commissions, as well as more errors that needed corrected after each fitting.

The fact that she was not able to hire trained people were able to work to her standards is not that surprising. In a lot of professions at least at the very top end (e.g., lawyers) people start with an employer after graduating and work their way up, with lateral movements being pretty rare.

Despite the difficulty of hiring skilled people, Nicoletta does not seem to have started training a large number of young people 10-15 years ago knowing that some would leave and some wouldn’t be good enough. I am not sure if it was a financial decision, as training is costly, or if she tried and wasn’t able to retain people. I think that was ultimately what led to her having to close.

While I will greatly miss Nicoletta and wish she were able to stay open, knowing the circumstances and having discussed this with her at length over the last few months, she really didn’t have another option.


I am planning on going to Tommy & Giulio Caraceni in Rome. Their approach is quite similar to Ferdinando Caraceni. Limited production, traditional Caraceni / Central Italian cut, no trunk shows so both Andrea Caraceni and Giancarlo Tonini the cutter see the client, love of vintage fabrics.
They made one jacket for me (a SB in a vintage cashmere they had) that I am very satisfied with, and now that I am going to Rome very frequently on business, I plan to stick with them.
This probably only makes sense because I go to Rome frequently. If I didn’t, I am not sure where I would go.


Why would A Caraceni, around the corner, not be a more natural and obvious replacement?


As far as I can tell, A Caraceni has diverged a bit more than Ferdinando and T&G from the classic Caraceni cut. Perhaps a bit narrower lapels, a bit closer fit. The changes are a matter of millimeters but a few millimeters here and there can have quite an impact on the outcome. Overall I prefer the more traditional Caraceni style which T&G has definitely maintained.

Also given that I go to Rome pretty much every week for work now, it is quite easy for me to visit them.


Andrew thank you for sharing your experiences. Would you say there are any differences between Ferdinando and T&G Caraceni’s cut? And whether you think there is flexibility within that (eg: asking for stronger/wider shoulders etc)? I had planned on going to Nicoletta before this news broke so now am thinking will follow your advice and head to Rome.



Hi Leo, sorry for the delay. I cannot say for a DB because I don’t have one, but the SB are very similar. The lapel of T&G has perhaps slightly less belly than Ferdinando, but apart from that the differences are really minor. T&G prefers 3 roll 2 for SB ironed though with the roll almost immediately above the second button, so the lapel is not shortened with respect to a normal two button. Nicoletta prefers 2 button except for very casual jackets.

Andrea has always been very complimentary of the work that Nicoletta does, which says something about him as a person and also her work, because tailors in my experience very rarely compliment the work of their peers.

I can’t really say on flexibility with respect to lapels, etc. as I never asked. T&G nailed the first fitting and it was clear from then that the jacket would be a success, so I never asked them to diverge from that.


hi Leo, I just had the second fitting of a DB blazer in Spring Ram fresco at T&G. My initial impression is very positive – they also nailed the fitting with only a slight adjustment to sleeve length needed (for some reason, nobody seems to get this right for me….).

I would say the T&G DB has a slightly slightly longer, and less square look than Ferdinando. The buttoning point is maybe 1cm lower, which elongates the lapel and creates a longer look to the jacket even if the length of the back seam is almost identical.

For those who want to wear the DB buttoned on the lowest button, I think this would wear a bit better than Ferdinando. i tried to do it with my Ferdinando DBs, and I never liked it as it somehow broke up the strong X shape created by the strong shoulders and lapel.


Thanks so much Andrew, this feedback is worth its weight in Lumbs Golden Bale! Have made my first appointment to get measured at T&G for May. Very much looking fwd.


That’s great. Enjoy! I have a cut of Lumbs to be made up in a spring jacket sometime in the next year or so – I hope it lives up to its reputation


Just had my first fitting on a SB escorial. As you say, they nailed it right away, such a unique, understated, yet complementary cut. Was in and out in about 5 min!


That’s part of it. It’s telos he price for bespoke which keeps going up. For example, Liverano. Did you see Simon’s post on one of his coats from Liverano and the price? Outrageous. How many men do you know are willing to pay that amount for bespoke and buy several items? And that includes having to travel to meet the tailor and duties. Not many.


Hi Simon,
An unfortunate story, however some learning in there for those aspiring to set up a business.
On a totally unrelated point. There is a new series on Netflix called The Gentlemen. Towards the end of episode three, a main character is wearing the PS Donegal Grey Herringbone Tweed coat. It’s a very brief scene. The flecks in the cloth really pop in high definition. Just thought you’d like to know.


Ha! I saw that too (although I thought it was the dark brown iteration). Both the movie and the series benefit from excellent outfits worn by the various characters (except perhaps the black tie with black shirt combination of the main character in the series was odd and out of tune).


I’m not sure how to feel about this interview. It seems a little self-pitying to me. It is certainly more difficult to find and keep a tailor with high potential in Milan than in Naples, where there are fewer job opportunities. But as a rule, you can keep people anywhere if you treat them with respect, pay them well and give them prospects. Whether it works out financially is another question, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem here.
As far as design is concerned, that’s imho a big part of clothing, because dressing is not a complex field, most people are just interested in looking good. Good craftsmanship complements good design, but without good design, good craftsmanship isn’t much.


I see, and those very good people probably want to have their own business with their own name on it in the long run. It probably does not help that tailoring is a shrinking market.

Andrew T.

I do think that the name on the business and the prospect of establishing one’s own house style or look is the driving factor for young tailors leaving more established houses. It cannot be overlooked that, it is her and her father’s last name that adorns the business. The prevailing notion, and I would argue especially in creative endeavors, is for individual achievement or recognition. How the specific industry of bespoke tailoring adjust to this is the begged for question from this interview.
If its pay and benefits, then the details would be needed and that may extend beyond the view of this site. I do think that the sell, of asking even those greatly interested in tailoring, to learn for upwards of decades and then to possibly begin one’s own shop or business will not work. Rather it is not, as can be seen in Caraceni’s experience.


I love how this is one of the few surviving blogs where the topic can seem shallow (clothes), but it can sustain a serious discussion about institutions, the market and the motivation among employees.
This seems like a classic case of craftsmen having difficulties attracting and keeping people who can learn the craft while fully submitting to the product and the vision and methods of their employer. I have read articles on artisan bootmakers, music instrument builders, cheesemakers, etc. in the same situation. The demand is there, but no one to fill the orders.

I think your analysis, Simon, makes a lot of sense, regarding employed craftsmen needing some internal recognition and outlets for their ideas. Perhaps the job market for tailors is changing more into that of chefs than the abovementioned lawyers. Many ambitious chefs work at the best restaurants for a few years to learn the ropes and build a reputation, with their long-term goal open up their own restaurant which fits not only their creative vision but also their ideas of how their workplace should function.


Sad news indeed! May I ask Simon, what other tailors, either Italian or British, produce at the level of Maestra Caraceni in your opinion?


Thank you sir! No Italian tailors?


Understood, thanks again.


In terms of geography moving operations to India where craftsmen have centuries of family tradition ( albeit aided by cultural issues such as caste ) is possible .
But there’s a certain snobbery in the profession that needs to be overcome to manage that .


Italians lamenting seldomly translates well into English. I’ve learned this over the years with Italian friends, it’s not nearly as dramatic as their choice of words would suggest.

Sam. U

Such a damn shame. But sadly not surprising.

Lindsay McKee

Awful awful awful!!!
Another great tailor consigned to the history books.
Benson and Clegg, Tobias Tailors, Kilgour French & Stanbury,Hardy Amie’s and the list goes on…. sadly on ..and on .
There are still the new ones!
Come now Simon!!!
Yes , terrible news here but they are still some bright new tailors eg. Sartoria Corcos…and others!
As our able sartorial ambassador… Simon…as best that you and your able team can… keep us informed of the new and able talent still around….BUT NOT FORSAKING THE OLDER TAILORS…be they regional, in London, in Italy or elsewhere.
We hope there will be more good news too…and soon.
Will you now have to update your 55 tailors list.. again…Oh no!!!

Sven Krolczik

That would be interesting, yes👍


Interesting article that got me thinking .
I think Nicolette was serving a niche within a niche clientele.
Evidenced by the statement that she wouldn’t make for a client who simply wanted a “ Caraceni in my wardrobe“.
As Hugo Jacomet says not understanding and appreciating the craftsmanship whilst just buying something is vulgarity .

BUT given the price points of these bespoke items I wonder how many customers tailors see who appreciate the craft . I would assume it’s just a heavy wallet that leads them to a renowned tailor .
On the other hand many a reader of PS and bespoke tailoring blogs truly appreciates the craft and skill but can’t afford to commission bespoke.

In an ‘Industry’ unable to scale , reliant on a almost fanatical ( I use the word positively) commitment from its workers and a price point at ‘luxury’ levels it will no doubt , sadly, see further demise.


Turning down the client for not being insightful enough about her craft sounds unreasonable. People have very different ways of thinking about clothing. Who can say if the person in question would fall in love with Caraceni’s style, rather than just the brand name? No one, since that won’t happen – because of what could have been a poor word choice. Obviously, I very much disagree with Jacomet.


It’s a real shame. Your cotton jacket and the article about Andrew and his Caraceni wardrobe have always been particular favorites of mine. I was never going to be a customer as I never go to Milan but it was nice to see the wonderful tailoring on others. I am actually very curious where Andrew goes after this. With the passing of Sartoria Crescent and this the Milanese tailoring scene seems to be changing a lot!
Do you have any insights into young Milanese tailors and what, in general, is happening there?


hi Nick, Simon asked above about where I will go as well. I plan to use Tommy & Giulio Caraceni for reasons that I explain in a comment farther up. It was a bit traumatic for me to learn Nicoletta was closing. She gave me a call after the holidays to tell me, and it was hard to accept given that we have developed quite a good relationship and the history of the house.
I am hoping that T&G keep up with the level of quality of the first jacket they made for me. I am encouraged by what I see, especially because Andrea is young and there seem to be a fair number of young people working there. That was quite important for me, as I don’t really want to start building a relationship with another tailor that closes down in a few years.
Nicoletta also told me that their cutter, Margherita (not sure about her last name), plans to set up on her own. She is very good and I will be interested to see what she does if and when she gets started.

Alex R

Interesting insights on the business of tailoring as well as the confluence of craft and artistic vision expected from those at the top.

it strikes me that there is an interesting piece to be written about the ins and outs of the early stages of a tailoring career, and what drives those joining now. I wonder for instance about those who work for a few years only before setting up their own thing. Is that purely down to aspirations to have their name on the inside of the jacket, or are their material considerations too? What are the payscales like at the bottom, and what are the working cultures like in the big and respected houses?

Sven Krolczik

Well I could only speak for myself. But in this case, I started my own tiny business after I finished two university degrees at the mid 30s. I work all alone in a rather small German city doing only suits and coats by hand. The reason I decided to do that is a deep intrinsic motivation. It’s not about fame or having my nametag inside somebody’s garments. It’s all about doing the thing you love in your life. And this might not apply only to Germany, true bespoke tailoring is a “heart-thing”. If it were about the money, I guess I’d be doing something completely different. I guess one could say I figured out what I really love. It’s a long story I would like to share but I’m afraid it’s too long for the comment section😬 So anybody interested in that, feel free to get in contact with me😜
So long


Hi Simon apologies as it’s completely unrelated. I on Clutch’s IG that you tried a RMcCoy’s deck jacket. May I ask what size was it? Thanks


Thanks. This is useful feedback as I am thinking of buying this jacket. How did you find the warmth of the jacket, good enough for average UK winter?
Also did you find it overly bulky to wear!
Apologies for being off subject


Any plans on reviewing the tailors starting out on their own?

Jack Linney

When I am in London, I am trying Lawton. While not massive, I’m larger than average (muscle and fat both). I am looking forward to seeing how she adapts her style to my shape. I have flexibility in my schedule for multiple fittings. I anticipate she will finish while I am there or shortly thereafter. Happy to report back on that and email photos.

Bob M

I recently decided to commission a new suit. I had a jacket from the same tailor and it compliments me perfectly. It’s going to replace a well-known “brand” that has beautiful fabric but average fit. I know exactly what she means.
I went to a dinner party the other night and just shook my head. I told my girlfriend that henceforth, let’s dress up to go out. She agreed.
I’m delighted my tailor has a staff and a succession plan. Less clothes for me, but more tailored. I think it’s important to make sure those choosing this industry enjoy it and enjoy working with knowledgeable customers.
Swimming against the tide, but still swimming.


Well said and agreed. The tide may well be turning soon.


The pursuit of perfection is difficult in any industry and nowhere more so than in bespoke.
As set out, demand was not the problem – execution was.
That said, I think young people can be educated to achieving this high standard but the working atmosphere and remuneration has to be correct. Nobody wants to work in a feudal environment anymore.


You have sometimes asked whether bespoke is worth it. Sometimes a bespoke project absolutely nails it, in a way that cannot be objectively measured. This interview shows how and why that happens.


Quite honestly, it’s an outdated and not all that profitable way of manufacturing clothing, and unlike her, I don’t blame people for not wanting to dedicate their entire life to perfecting the craft; after all, they’re making pants, not curing cancer. Sounds a whole lot like the old “Young people just don’t want to put in the work anymore!” one usually hears from a certain demographic.


While I don’t agree with this comment, it does highlight an important point. If you own a bespoke tailoring operation that operates at the high end, you can earn a very comfortable living but you won’t get rich. The margins on bespoke are not that high due to the amount of labor involved, and it isn’t possible to produce enough volume at the bespoke level of quality to get rich. High end, artisanal production and high volume are just not compatible.
The only way that tailors have a chance to get rich is to start a brand that uses tries to lever the name of the bespoke house to sell expensive MTM, casual clothes, accessories, etc.
In my opinion, A&S is about the only example I can think of that has done this well, partially because they do not offer products that compete head on with the bespoke operation and partially because it is done with a very high level of taste. The others that have tried like Cifonelli, Liverano and Aloisio may make a lot of money (I don’t know that for sure) but, in my opinion, offer a second rate product that cheapens the brand they set out to exploit. In the long run, it will be interesting to see the impact that these brands have on the bespoke shop they spun out of.


I have some Liverano and Alosio products that are very high quality. Very satisfied.

Andrew X

Have you considered the possibility that some people don’t especially want to get rich? Perhaps they value creating beautiful things more highly?


Yes of course. That was exactly what I was trying to say, perhaps not successfully, in response to Andreas’ comment that bespoke is not a profitable way of making clothes.


To elaborate further, what I was trying to say is that bespoke is certainly not the most profitable way of making clothes. Having a brand is more profitable. My observation is that when tailors decide to focus more on making money and less on craft that they decide to start a brand that leverages the name they have built up as bespoke tailors.

One I suppose could argue that the profit from the brand could be used to fund the bespoke operation, but I don’t know enough about the ownership structures and funds below of the names I cited to comment on that.

Andrew X

Apologies. I misunderstood.

Max Alexander

Look, bespoke tailoring is a craft not a “scaleable” enterprise, to use the business-school term. (I’m excluding houses like Rubinacci that have expanded into OTR retail.) The owners of small bespoke houses that I know personally here in Rome live rather like doctors do here–meaning they have nice apartments in upscale neighbourhoods, drive nice cars and often have second homes on the sea or in the countryside. Does that make them “rich”? Well yes compared to a waiter. But they will never be able to sell their businesses to Amazon for millions of euros, any more than the artisanal glassmakers on Murano could do so. It’s not scaleable, any more than a surgeon’s “business” is scaleable. But for them, and I venture for most of us who patronise them, it’s well enough.

Lindsay McKee

I totally agree


Re: “Young people just don’t want to put in the work anymore!”.
While this may sound to you as nothing more than the gripe of the elderly, it doesn’t mean it’s a false statement.
By the way, if this profession is outdated, what’s more contemporary in your view, the sweat-shop produced athleisure coming out of the dept. stores these days?


To be honest, most of us are here to read about the craft, and we enjoy supporting these types of businesses. Your comment makes me wonder why you are here in the first place.


Interesting perspective. I’m not curing cancer either, but I have chosen to dedicate my life/work to perfecting my craft. If I didn’t, I’d have to dedicate an awful lot of time, energy and money to marketing and I prefer to not to do that. The other issue, along with having to be devoted to marketing, is that as soon as you stop marketing, work stops coming in, whereas mastering one’s craft doesn’t suffer the same limitation. I’m only speaking of my own experience though and I’m not in the tailoring business.

Eric Michel

I did not grow-up in a family really dressed bespoke, quite the opposite! I started to make some money after university and then bought magazines, and obviously I went first to Gucci or Prada to buy more of a social statute than a suit! I was educated in economics and finance, not in tailoring! Instead of turning me down because of my total lack of knowledge, the first real tailor I met did not make any comment about the designer jacket I was wearing. He may have found it terrible (which it was!) but he just very nicely used the colour palette to discuss my first commission… followed by many others!


I think they’ll always be a need for good tailors, especially for those who appreciate the craft and a unique, quality piece of clothing. Speaking of quality, I need your advice Simon. I want to know if Edward Green shoes are worth the money, especially now they’ve put their prices up? Could you also comment on a better alternative, for the same money? Any insight would be much appreciated.


Thanks Simon. Do you continue to buy EG?


I have no Edward Green shoes (too expensive) but two pairs of C&J. I also have three pairs of Vass shoes (Budapest), which in my opinion are two leagues above C&J. Vass shoes are handwelted, which you normally find only in bespoke and not even with EG. If you order directly from Vass through their webpage (dont‘t let the design of the webpage put you off or the service) the shoes cost between EUR 500-600, I assume due to cheaper labour costs in Hungary. As Vass produces on backorder the waiting time is 6-8 weeks.
I have seen Vass shoes with an incredible mark-up by traders in England and the USA, over EUR 1.000, so I would avoid that.
It is no surprise to me, from Vienna, that the quality is that high. Budapest was the Northhampton of the Austrian-Hungarian empire as far as shoes are concerned. So there is a very old tradition of shoemaking and there are other excellent Budapest shoemakers as well.


With Vass you’re not only getting hand-welting but also hand sewn outsoles, these are real hand made shoes. Comparing Vass construction to C&J or EG is like comparing full canvas to half canvas jacket. That being said there are other factors to consider and Vass has inferior finishing compared to EG for example. Also while I find the lasts equally beautiful the EG lasts have a better balance for most people. It really depends how the lasts fit you and what design you like. I wouldn’t buy EG Chelsea over Vass Oxford due to perceived value but I would buy EG Piccadilly over Vass loafer due to design and fit. I also find EG Dover and Vass Norweger to be equally enjoyable but for different use cases.

I think EG strength lies in iconic models like Dover, Piccadilly, Galway and it’s overall consistency. It’s a safe choice for basically everyone, at a price. There are quite a few big name alternatives operating at that price point including G&G, John Lobb, Stefano Bemer and Yohei Fukuda to name a few but if we’re talking about a step up then it appears St. Crispin’s is most often mentioned as it has full hand make but also delivers on details and has a personalised lasts. St. Crispin’s seems to be the shoe people get before they graduate into bespoke.


When you put it like that, considering handwork involved, that example actually makes more sense. I was more fixated on use of adhesives.


A moving piece of writing. Nicoletta sincerity and loss are moving. She has very good reason to have so much pride in the legacy of her atelier. It must be an intense disappointment not to to find a new custodian.
I assume that there are similar issues in most of the major tailoring house. I’m aware that a lot of tailors in Italy were laid off during Covid. I wonder if this contributed to the shrinking pool of experienced tailors. I’m sure many junior tailors would have learnt a tough lesson during Covid about how precarious the career of an apprentice tailor can be. It may have spurred many to look for opportunities elsewhere.
I hear similar concerns from tailoring houses all over the world about apprentices going solo after only a few years of apprenticeship. Just wondering if you see any good examples of tailoring houses that provide attractive or innovative career progression for tailors to help retain the best. It seems a problem they all need to solve.


In the case of Nicoletta, it is more that some of the older tailors retired during or after Covid. The younger ones for the most part stuck around, but with the retirement of the older generation and inability to hire in new people, there weren’t enough workers to fulfil the demand. I can’t speak for the situation with young people at other shops.


Thanks Andrew. I probably shouldn’t have commented. I’ve had no interactions with Caraceni or it’s staff. I’m an admirer of Nicoletta’s work and the legacy of her family business and so felt a lot of sympathy for her predicament. It’s a pity to see cynical comments in this comments section. Anyone who loves bespoke should be sad that we are losing one of the great houses.
My comments about the turnover of junior tailors during and after Covid was a general comment about the industry but is just my idle observations/gossip at the end of the day. I’d have been better to avoid loose comments on what is a complex issue with very different realities in different ateliers.


Sounds like to me she is well of financially and just wants to retire. Also she seems to have standards that are just too high or maybe she is a difficult boss/personality. And let me say this about individuals who came in for only a short time to be apprentice tailors to people like her. I think they see how much these tailors make and want a piece of that. The tailor probably says no and/or poorly pays these people. Therefore, I do not blame them for leaving to open their own shop and make more money. Also, these tailors are doing it to themselves with the prices they charge for tailoring. Noone wants to spend that kind of money nowadays except for the Instagram clicks.

Mark P

A thought-provoking interview and a wonderfully emotive insight into this woman and her work. One of the best pieces I’ve read about clothing in some time. Well done.

Mario Carneiro Neto

So so sad to read this, and yet in the end I also find another way to admire Nicoletta Caraceni. It’s not an easy decision to take, but I so respect her for taking it. I will forever rue never being at the point to commission one of her family company’s suits.

Joshua Grindatto

Hi Simon,

Thank you for this interview!

I’m curious for your opinion:

Is there a rebound possible with younger generations interested in craft making their way through an apprenticeship? For instance Fred Nieddu, Michael Brown, and Seiji McCarthy that have been covered on here all seem on the younger end of the spectrum and their sort of person may inspire even more to pursue craft as career. Is that something you see or is it over-represented because of Permanent Style’s niche?

I’ve considered a career change into a craft like this but at nearly 30 years old the idea of the needed 7+ years of training is daunting. Maybe other younger men feel the same. Do you hear of this sentiment at trade shows and amongst the craftsmen you interact with?



Max Alexander

From here in Rome I can confirm there is no lack of demand. All the tailors I know here are backed up with work yet in a constant search for workers. Most of the younger apprentices are now Asian and Eastern European. Why Italians no longer choose this career can be attributed to many things but one is surely culture. In the past, Italian tailors grew up idolizing stars like Mastroianni, who swanned about town (in films and in real life) wearing the most elegant bespoke attire. Naturally many young tailors wanted to be a part of that heady world. Today you have young stars like Harry Styles wearing Gucci clown clothes on the red carpet (in one memorable instance with the Gucci label still sewn onto his sleeve). Understandable, I suppose, that today’s young generation of tailors want to work for those high-profile fashion houses, not sewing anonymous suits for anonymous customers.


In the case of the current generation of Italian tailors that is now ageing, in the past a lot of the workers in shops in Milan and Rome were economic migrants from the south. Nicoletta’s father was from Abruzzo (central/south) and workers came from there, Liverano was from Puglia, etc. Not sure about use of foreign workers.

As Max said, now a lot of those people don’t want to go into trades and instead go to university and move north to work as lawyers, doctors, etc.

Max Alexander

I’m not an expert on the history, but I do know that traditionally here in Rome, the cutters and sewers came from Calabria. There are still some of those guys around, but fewer, and they are retiring. It’s possible there have been immigrant tailors all along, as indeed there were emperors (Constantine came from what is now Serbia), but I don’t know.


In the past, Italian immigrants tended to “recruit” other people from their village or region to their new home once they were established there and things were going well. (I assume this is the case with many immigrant communities.) I see this a lot in Zurich where I live. Many people from Calabria and the Salento moved to Zurich in the 1960s and 1970s to work in the factories, as those regions were mainly agricultural and didn’t have as many opportunities for work. One person moved up and then invited other people they knew to join them as opportunities for work arose. I guess the same happened in Rome with tailors. Aloisio is from Calabria as is Mercurio, the shoe maker. My guess would be that they and other tailors hired people from their region as workers as they were expanding.


Nicoletta sounds rather inflexible to be honest. It would surely have been better to keep the business going, even if in an imperfect form, than close it altogether.


I understand her view but her principled stand will soon be forgotten, as now will both her and her father. Keeping the business going would have preserved their memory, and their dedication and commitment.


Hi Ian, you seem to be assuming that here clients would allow her to get away with lowering the quality. As I have written in other comments, most of her clients are long-standing and accustomed to a very high level of quality. Those clients would not accept a lower level of quality without either sending the garment back or eventually leaving.

Nicoletta is close to 65 and has never done trunk shows. If she alienated her existing clients and they left, she most likely would have had to start to find new clients using trunk shows who were unaware of the lower level of quality. (Word amongst people in Italy who are interested in tailoring spreads very fast, so getting new local clients would be unlikely.)

Apart from the questionable ethics of what you are suggesting, starting to do trunk shows at 65 to win new clients that she may or may not have retained doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense as a business proposal.

Knowing Nicoletta and the business, I don’t think that lowering quality would have kept them in business and it certainly would not have been true to her personality. Anyone who has ever met Nicoletta knows she is fanatical about the quality of what she makes for her clients.


With the latter, they’ll be remembered by their clients and those they had relationships with. Although the pursuit of being remembered for generations to come is not a folly necessarily, it can miss the forest for the trees.

I have tremendous respect for the decision. It is one of humility, self-awareness, and presence in the world.
We don’t need to build things that last forever. We need to build things that give people find value in now but can endure if treated with respect. It seems she and her father have done just that.

Jasper Smit

This interview made me a bit emotional to be honest. She sure sounds like a true Rockstar.. Totally get the thing about fashion.. If it’s your shop and work and you feel you can’t keep the style and work up to the level you want I guess not doing it at all is a strong thing to do.

All the best to her.


God this is so sad, I had circled a first commission in my diary on my next visit to Milan in May. Please Simon if possible could you inform us as to Nicoletta’s tailors that are branching off on their own?


I have to go see Margherita, Nicoletta’s cutter, when she opens up to have a jacket altered. I will see what she is up to and report back, if interested. She is very good, and I expect she will have something interest to offer.

Mark Seitelman

Ms. Caraceni is in the unfortunate place that many artisan craftsmen face, i.e..

  1. The children do want to take-over the business; and
  2. There is a diminished pool of experienced tailors.

On point # 1, my late barber noted this about 30 years ago on his annual trips to visit his family in Rome. The children did not want to follow their fathers in becoming barbers, tailors, and shoemakers. They wanted to become lawyers, financiers, doctors,. professionals, etc. Who can blame them? My old shoemaker forbade his son from entering the business.
On point # 2, the diminished pool of talent, that is no new problem. I asked one of the Knize family why they closed their New York City branch about 40+ years ago. He said that he could not find talented tailors.

Mark Seitelman

Oh, and I forgot to wish Ms. Caraceni well on her retirement.

William Kazak

What a great interview. I totally respect her. She has a love for beauty, craftsmanship and fine tailoring..What a wonderful lady. I wish her the very best in retirement. Thank you Simon for sharing this with us.


With all the respect and not wanting to harm anyone i dont really care if all too expensive tailors close tomorrow. The prices are so high that make the clothes really unreachable for most people, who just want to be well dressed. Except from some that need to wear a suit every day and their clients and colleges notice that level of quality no one other really cares. People moved to more casual ways of clothing and for many good reasons. If someone needs a suit that he is going to wear 10 times a year, it is not a very good investment to pay 5000 for it. I understand that companies and tailors must live from a shrinking market but they must also understand that the prices they are asking are sometimes the prices of a small car. And somehow the new generation should get into good tailoring if they want to ever have younger clients.


To build on Simon’s point, at their peak Ferdinando Caraceni made around 400-450 garments a year, which is around 1/3 of what I understand A&S currently produces. This was when they had 10-12 workers. More recently they were closer to 250-300. If an average customer orders 4-5 garments a year and some clients bring their children, it doesn’t take that many clients to keep a business like that going.
Given that they don’t do trunk shows and never focused on passing customers who just wanted to give Caraceni a try, I would not expect they had many clients order something only occasionally.

Simon S

I must concurr with Simon here. A more fair and egalitarian world (as I imagine Georgios is advocating for) does not require an erasure of culture and tradition. We already tried that in architecture with the modernist movement of the 20th century, with dubious results to say the least. I will probably never be able to afford a bespoke garment but I would hate to see the craft disappear. Same as I would hate for glass blowing, log building or masonry to disappear just because we can produce products of “equal” quality industrially.


And it often isn’t simply about affordability. Georgios mentions the price of a car in relation to the cost of a finely made bespoke suit. In my younger days I ran a car and a motorbike in London. Nothing too fancy. It costs thousands per year to run a car, even a small one i.e. when depreciation, servicing, repairs, parking costs, insurance and all the other costs are factored in. 5-10k+ per year for a vehicle which you spend not a very much time in at all, if you value your sanity and stress levels.

At the time I “couldn’t afford to have a suit made”. Of course, it was really a case of what I valued and what my priorities were. I feel the complete opposite these days. One of the great things about investing in quality clothes is that they don’t depreciate in the same way that many other things can. My father had a beautiful overcoat that has now been passed to his grandson. I don’t know when exactly he bought it but my guestimation is that it’s over 60 years old. It looks in perfect condition and has been worn regularly i.e. I always remember him wearing it when I was a child and he continued to wear it in his retirement. Well fitted/made clothes that last decades are great value for money in my opinion.

Shamanth Murthy

A very insightful article Simon. It’s too sad to see well known tailoring houses close down. Keen to hear your thoughts, based on discussions with other tailoring houses, on what they are doing in terms of succession planning and how they plan to keep their unique value proposition and/or build their clientale in the future? Perhaps there are examples of some who are managing it well (maybe Edward Sexton) and other tailoring houses may benefit from that.

Shamanth Murthy

Got it. Wondering if a partnership model with equity ownership (like consulting and law firms) would help in creating a natural successor (could be the head cutter or one of their senior tailors) for these tailoring houses. That way the brand and name can live on and the specific style or value prop of the house is preserved.


I understand that Ms. Caraceni’s immediate motivation in closing the business was a lack of skilled labor, ability to maintain quality, etc. I also understand that bespoke is not scalable in the most extreme sense. That said, it may be that bespoke is not too expensive…maybe it is priced too low…maybe the way the market for these products will go is higher prices necessary to attract skilled and motivated workers. Price should cause supply (of labor) and demand to equalize…the economist’s conclusion from this interview and its comments would be that pricing is likely too low.


I did joke with Nicoletta that she should raise prices (only for new clients of course…) and she did by about 10% or so over the years I went there. The issue she said that held her back was that most of her clients were very long standing clients and she didn’t feel is was right (nor did she want to risk losing them) to make a very material increase in prices. Given there were no trunk shows it wasn’t really possible to charge foreign clients more.

The consequence is unfortunate but I respect that decision. You see this with a lot of hotels in Europe that have increased their prices massively over the last five years or so (eg, anything owned by Belmond group). Their core clients can no longer afford to go or don’t want to pay the new crazy prices and stop going. The business attracts a different clientele but in the process loses the spirit that made it famous in the first place.


Well the major assumption is that there is sufficient demand at a higher price point. In order to train new tailors you need enough orders for them to be involved. If you are making just one suit a month at a very high price point that wouldn’t allow for a fulfilling career as a tailor.
Unfortunately, I think that it’s just that fewer people are going into the profession hence the number of really good workers has dropped. Perhaps in the past some of Caraceni’s more recent tailors would have worked for lesser tailors but given the circumstances they were able to find employment with a major name.


It is of course sad when tailor houses with such history close down. However, when a boss/manager can not retain employees repeatedly, the fault can never be on the employee side. Being able to retain older tailors doesn’t say much because these people had grown up differently and had different expectations from their working conditions. In the ‘O’mast’ documentary you can see how tailors of the older generation never even went to school. Instead they were ‘training’ as children in tailor houses from sunrise to sunset to end up as tailors, and all share stories about how difficult their upbringing was (almost as a budge of honor). That mentality has changed and the younger generations expect much more from their careers, as they of course should.


I don’t believe immigrants per se are required to maintain entrants to bespoke tailoring. The old world has changed. The tailoring world may need to change somewhat to make itself attractive to new entrants.

There is a ‘maker’s’ movement that has emerged in recent years – mainly based around woodworking, but also leather, metal, jewellery, ceramics and so on making fine furniture, cabinetry, accessories and the like. Many of the types of people who have entered into these crafts have done so after a spell in the corporate world, some in their late twenties, thirties and even older.

This “Maker’s movement” has done a superb job of creating a cool subculture and has made it appear a cool and attractive thing to get involved in. There are many hobbyists involved who don’t earn a living out if it but a great many do and have set up successful businesses with very professional websites. There is a very different image say, of a cabinet maker today, compared with one from the 1970’s.

The idea of poor/uneducated children working from sunrise to sunset in tailoring houses is about as attractive as kids being sent up chimneys. To counter the image portrayed in the documentary mentioned by Stavros perhaps a promo or feature film that appeals to the mentality and expectations that the younger generations have would be a step in the other direction.


What a sad news. I recently read an article in GQ about Naples, and the problem is the same there: they don’t have the people to keep up with the overwhelming demand from around the world. People tend to focus on fewer people are wearing suits, but real problem is the industry doesn’t have the manpower to work in poor enviorment. It’s not a bad thing actually, it’s evidence that our society is getting better. But it’s also true that the work of artisans has become so expensive that it’s out of reach of even the middle class.
You recently toured the tailoring scene in Korea. There’s one issue there that hasn’t been addressed. The declining demand is a problem, but even worse is the lack of coatmakers. Whereever you go to, there are craftsmen (come from Sogong-dog, until the end 90s called Savile Row of Seoul) working there who are already over retirement age, many of them probably cannot work for more than 10-15 years at the longest. And what will happen?
Honestely and surprisingly many young people in tailoring only imagine a man in a suit, with pomade in his hair, greeting customers in a classic European drawing room and cutting fabric. But they seem to forget that their work cannot be realised with craftsmen who spends half his day hunched over, sewing with a terrible payment. (Of course, a few tailors do one-man-made, but that’s too expensive for the average Korean’s income) Like old craftsmen in Naples, The elders in Korea had no chance ot be educated and grew up in terrible workplaces. Youngs ignores it, or don’t want to do self such a hard thing anymore. But we don’t have immigrants like Saveile Row.

Joshua Grindatto

This is an insightful comment!
Is the only possible route paying highly skilled immigrant labor (coatmakers) lower wages to keep a high enough margin for a viable business or is there a business model that can balance the cost of the product with making tailoring a more appealing profession? I think what I’m asking is whether or not the issue is that the typical business model ends up under-valuing a critical position i.e. the hands doing the sewing?


The appeal of the knowledge economy has supplanted the industrial/manufacturing economy in so many other areas, I guess it’s finally happened here. Not to discount the sheer knowledge required for bespoke production.
But then 150 years ago luxury was very limited and depended on bespoke commissions. Bespoke formal wear looks destined for that niche. Perhaps these clothes will attain the status of vintage classic cars?
Many men spend comparable amounts on a watch, but as previously stated it’s not the demand that was the issue. Haute couture still seems to be able to recruit the artisans It requires, but again an even more rarified area.
Sad to hear that they won’t remain a going concern.


Thanks. It’s interesting how the mainstream fashion industry, I’m going take as a starting point the 1950s onwards with the Mods, came much later than the bespoke industry, but has now grown to the size it has. Post WW II and after the end of rationing, the teenager was a newly defined category. That coupled with more disposable income really allowed fashion to flourish. Fashion giving more scope to express oneself compared to formal attire. The fashion industry appears to have devoured the previous industry’s workforce. Some will question why they didn’t react earlier. Your suggestion speaks to me of the film studio system, vertically integrated and attending to all parts.


Always a shame to see a business making something beautiful shut even if I couldn’t afford their suits myself)

The point about young tailors who work for a few years at a famous tailoring firm then starting their own business I found quite interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly there is perhaps an old apocryphal saying about tailors only becoming good at what they do when they become somewhat advanced in age) Secondly Ive noticed in London at least quite a few young tailors start their own little tailoring businesses after only being in the trade a few years. I won’t name any names but some have been mentioned on this blog before.

I always wondered how these young tailors would compete unless they charged much less than some of the established firms drawing in customers who maybe couldn’t stretch to the cost of a bigger name firms with their associated larger costs and who were willing to take a bit of a risk on a somewhat unknown entity. Upon enquiry I found out that in almost all cases they were charging more and in some cases quite a bit more. I dont quite understand the economics of it. I would add that they seem to in all cases claim they do a better job without some of the short cuts of the bigger firms they came from hence the higher price although I wouldn’t know what the short cuts are as Im not a tailor.

I was wondering what you thought of the skill of tailors with some formative training but with only a few years experience actually on the job. How long do you think it takes to learn the craft of being a bespoke tailor to produce something of beauty, and real quality in tailoring?


Ok Simon, understood, so would you say they could handle a job which is not out of the ordinary just as well as an experienced tailor? I always thought of tailoring as half being an engineer, and half being an artist, so there is considerable skill that you have to develop. There is that idea that it takes 7 years of intensive training to become adept at various skilled tasks. I know that in my field, investment management, I definitely didn’t know what I was doing for a lot longer than that!
Do you think these various young tailors now operating in say London will survive over the coming decade or two? There are quite a few of them now. Perhaps they should form a cooperative of some kind to share rent, rates and other overheads.


I have an idea on this. The problem with trying to keep Savile Row and surrounding streets as a tailoring centre is that its occupying prime real estate in mayfair. All retail presence in London have too much pressure from rent and rates as it is and being in Mayfair makes the problem even more extreme. The location isn’t even particularly pleasant in my opinion anymore. I associate the streets around there with the smell of raw sewage because the plumbing in those old streets hasn’t been upgraded whilst you’ve had huge development of new flats and office blocks in the area. Anyway, I think either the industry itself, or perhaps London (GLA), should create a purpose built tailoring and fashion area with retail outlets, connected to workrooms for tailors and machinists etc to work in.
Somewhere in or near to Kings Cross development with Central Saint Martins right there could work well. You have a lot of converted warehouses there which could be repurposed. Ive heard a tailor once say that the West End is good as clients can come in easily but how many clients actually would live in Mayfair these days, & even if their office is around there with modern transport they can be at Kings Cross in 10 mins. Shoreditch is another option.
The young tailors could be given connected workrooms with say a shared shop to see their customers. The rent and rates could be at a subsidised lower rate. Since everyone here in the UK talks about wanting to encourage new business and entrepreneurship I think it would be a good use of money)


Hi Simon,
Many thanks for sharing this sobering interview. Even though I couldn’t afford a mere SB blazer made by the F. Caraceni House, I really feel sad by its fate. The world will be missing talented craftspeople working together in Milan to uphold as they could the high standards in tailoring our culture still deserves.
Since it isn’t worh crying over spilt milk, what could be done to properly address this kind of issue? Or isn’t there anything that could be done and worth considering?

Horace T

The tone of this interview is quite self-pitying. There are thousands of crafts which have come and gone through the years. The fact that her own family has no interest in keeping the business going should be a sign that something isn’t quite right. Personally, I think some of the economics involved in traditional bespoke suiting just aren’t sustainable in the long run. Investing 5000+ euros in a garment which is decreasing in popularity and also has very very little resale value?


Dear Horace,
On the point about the children not having interest, I would not read too much into this. There are plenty of children of lawyers who do not go onto to work for the family law firm. This does not mean that being a lawyer is a dying business. As she said in the interview, Nicoletta joined the firm by chance not because she always dreamed of running a tailoring house. Her sister was never interested and went onto to something completely different.

On the economics, I think it is worth considering that for a lot of clients of bespoke houses (e.g., F Caraceni’s long-time client Silvio Berlusconi) spending EUR 5k or more on a suit is completely immaterial in the context of their wealth and income. At least for a house like F Caraceni, the core of the business comes from a small number of very wealthy loyal clients who order a number of garments every year and who have more than enough money to afford those prices. Those are the people who keep big houses running, not professionals who are passionate about tailor or occasional clients who save up to order a suit every now and then. I would suspect that other top end tailors like A Caraceni, A&S, Cifonelli, Camps de Luca are similar.


If the patron was comfortable with the older, more experienced tailors (because they’re family and [grew to] see eye to eye) and uncomfortable with younger, less experienced ones to the point that she fired five tailors in three years and didn’t find four remaining ones suited to run the business — it’s her decision.
However forced it is by the state of the tailoring market. Capitalism at its finest.


I never comment but wanted to thank you for this interview. As a business owner, it makes sense and the way to tell it rings very true. All the best to you Ms. Caraceni, you rock.


Simon, during your commissions at F. Caraceni, did you have any interactions with Margherita the cutter? If so, how did you assess her skill, and what are thoughts on (someone) patronizing the sartoria she is setting up?

Thank you for all your content—my guilty pleasure as well as an impeccable source of information.


She made the right decision. Tailors have generally never been firms that last forever. Those are the exception and have often changed hands many times.
The talent will get harder to find and the quality suits more expensive.

Dennis Bush

I was saddened by this news, but it was an excellent interview, and I enjoyed her comments about the shoulder and proportion. Is her ability to know the type and weight of a fabric by touch with eyes closed unique in your experience, or are there other tailors with that particular gift?

T. Jobds

Hi Simon,
Longtime reader, first-time commenter. Loved the piece, thanks for sharing!
Off topic, but wondering if you might consider doing an article on Oxxford Clothes here in the US? For the quality and ubiquity of their work, they’re criminally under-discussed in the menswear scene.
Looking forward to your perspective. Thanks!