Trousers are never as flamboyant and snazzy as a jacket can be. Contrary to a jacket, the fancy work doesn’t really show unless you’re looking closely, which is something that people in the street will rarely do when they see your trousers; while you may find people stealing glances at your shoulders, you usually don’t find them staring at your crotch or turn-ups.
Trouser-makers are like bass players in jazz: you only notice them when there’s something wrong. Trousers may be somewhat implicit that way, but it takes a lot of work and artfulness to provide a great background for an outfit.
You may add buttons and stitching all you want, trousers are not about gimmicks. Trousers are about something that cannot quite be perceived: fit, mostly.
What can be seen is the flow of the leg, its straight-arrow perfection, the easy drop of fabric; yet it remains, at most, a subtle rather than a spectacular quality.
Naples has a history of bespoke trousers that has caught a lot of attention, if only because they’re usually much cheaper than trousers made in other fashion capital cities. But they’re also renowned for the true craft of family-owned businesses — except when reality fails to live up to the legend…
In this respect, let me tell you a four-word Italian joke— “tutto fatto a mano”.
It’s a well-documented fact that everything that glitters is not gold. And everything that is Neapolitan is not always crafted according to exacting technical standards.
And yet. The true craftsmen who give the legend its credibility and integrity are still out there plying their trade. And when you actually compare their work with other brands who prefer to cut some corners, the difference is staggering. Alberto Voglio’s bespoke trousers are the real thing, they are completely hand-made — and there’s a very simple reason for that.
Alberto Voglio is a fourth-generation tailor as his family has been in the business since 1907. That would be nothing if he did not actually honour this tradition by pursuing it. Family tradition may be an empty marketing tool for some brands. For others, it is the true backbone of their business. There are many reasons for that—making the best possible product can be a matter of family pride but, very often, they simply don’t know any other way. Contrary to some ‘Jermyn Street’ operations whose products are made in far-away countries with low wages, a lot of Neapolitans makers have not transitioned into global business and carry on their craft as they were taught.
The great-grandfather Giuseppe and his brother Pasquale Voglio started working together in 1907. Two years later, Pasquale decided to relocate… in Chile, where he quickly made a name for himself in Santiago, even working for the head of state. Meanwhile, Giuseppe carried on with his own sartoria in Napoli, passed it to his son Alberto who taught the trade to his son Bruno. It was Bruno who decided to specialise in bespoke trousers for men in 1966. He passed the torch to his son, taught him the craft and, clearly, a sense of continuity. Alberto started learning as early as 9, went on to a fashion school, specialising in men’s clothing, and went back to working with his father.
According to Alberto Voglio “I continued working with my father and that’s how I inherited his passion and dedication to our craft. It was this personal story that has enabled me to reach a high level of perfection. I’ve been used to doing everything rigorously by hand, even the smallest details—and to adapt to each customer.”
There is no shortage of promises in the tailoring world and one can be wary of the actual products. But those trousers begged to be tested. I chose a Cacciopoli blue cavalry twill, something sturdy and stylish. After we made a first fitting, Alberto adjusted what needed to be fine-tuned (slimmer thighs), as it should be in bespoke tailoring, and the result eventually provided a nice drape and drop, something you don’t really get with ready-to-wear. Alberto’s demanding standards proved to be perfectly executed.
The pockets, the belt-loops, the waistband, the buttonholes and every tiniest step of the trousers are hand-made. Also, rather than use ready-made patterns for trousers of all sizes, they cut each piece of the fly to match the proportions of the trousers, resulting in a finer work and precise finishing. The canapina in the waist-band is not just reinforced junk that will wear out but actual good quality cloth. Each stitch is clearly the result of actual craftsmanship. The same goes for the details on each pocket, or the three-piece construction of the waist. There’s no ready-made pattern—Alberto insists on cutting instinctively and relying on his eyes for proportions.
Contrary to jackets that are always the focus of an outfit, trousers are always taken for granted. And they should. The best trousers are those you can’t feel. Because they’re not too tight, not too long, not too short, not too baggy. There’s a lot of things trousers shouldn’t be. But, on top of that self-effacing dimension, trousers can also be slimming, practical, complementing. Alberto Voglio’s trousers are all that. They’re also perfectly executed and bring to you the special trust you can have with bespoke artisans.
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John, you are absolutely correct. Today the average Joe or Jenny rarely focus on one’s crouch or turn-ups, however, the average tailor or someone engaged in men’s clothing design or manufacture will.
In the 1960’s the focus, at least in the USA southern region, was on the fabric used in the making of men’s slacks. Silk and wool fabrics imported from England and Italy with geometric designs that changed colors depending on the luminous thread and weave patterns captured the attention of young men and women.
“Sharkskin” and “Dupioni Silk” was the most popular and coveted fabrics. The design of the slacks was of secondary importance, although many of the wearers “conceptually” created their unique designs and had local tailors “materialize” their design patterns.
The tight fitting “Pee Wee Herman look “, popular today, was unquestionably anathema at that time and could be considered culturally rather foreboding.
Interesting article. Bad photos.
I certainly notice nice-looking trousers, but it’s always hard to determine what makes them eye-catching. The fit is it!
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