by Gianluca Isaia
The Lord of the Fabricsby Gianluca Isaia
In the tailor's shop, fabric is what brings everything to life. Perhaps we think that because we come from generations of drapers, up to my grandfather Enrico Isaia who had a large, well-stocked store that opened in Napoli in 1920. For decades, Isaia was an essential point of reference not only for the top local menswear tailors, but also for many more people who came from all over the south of Italy to that sort of ancient trading post which was incredibly fascinating, always vibrant, dynamic and crowded.
These people sought the fabrics they needed to interpret their own particular idea of elegance. In short, without fabric – better if lightweight and of high quality, provided with great resistance and performance – it would be impossible to imagine tailored menswear, and all those sophisticated stylistic inventions and tiny yet significant details that are at its basis would be useless. Menswear fabrics are a bit like the letters of the alphabet for a writer or the musical staff for a composer. They are the structure upon which something is built: the foundation for the design of a well-made suit.
Often, beyond the customer's physical morphology and personal taste, fabric immediately suggests the direction and path to take. It suggests the most appropriate color and weight, for example. Nuances and moods, prints and patterns incarnate the substance of the suit and are its first, primary element. You should be able to recognize quality even with closed eyes, in Napoli “uocchie ‘nzerrat”. To understand the level and substance of a fabric, you must touch it and feel it. You have to handle it many times with great attention and pleasure. This might seem strange to you, but that's the way it is.
I'm not someone who is particularly interested in mysticism, nor am I a fanatic of rituals. Eighty percent of what Isaia produces is made with exclusive fabric collections. We always seek the best fabrics in the world but, above all, we keep drawing from our huge archive. There you can fall in love with Biella fabrics that are nearly impossible to find and with extremely rare wools from the most refined, traditional British textile manufacturers. We have products made especially for us and completely ecological, such as black sheep wool which is not black but different shades of brown, or "blueberry", a fabric that is dyed with vegetable extracts, particularly blueberry.
Then there is "Sol8", “o giro r’o munn’ ‘int’ a 8 vestiti”, that is in Napoli, around the world in eight suits: 8 unique bespoke suits made for only 8 customers in the whole world. These sublime Neapolitan custom-made sartorial masterpieces use the prestigious "Isaia 14.5 Selection" fabric made with an exclusive selection of extremely fine Australian Merino wool with a diameter of 14.5 microns. To have an idea of the size of this fiber, bear in mind that the diameter of a red blood cell is 8 millimeters, while that of a hair ranges between 68 and 75 millimeters. I may not be modest, but I challenge you to outdo that!