This is an unusual review because it lends the question–Should we be discussing Gennaro Formosa (a Neapolitan bespoke tailor recently featured in the cult classic O’MAST movie) in a review of ready-to-wear suits ?
Yet a daring Frenchman living in NYC, Greg Lellouche, founder of No Man Walks Alone (NMWA), has made it possible to put the words ‘Formosa’ and ‘ready-to-wear’ (RTW) in the same sentence.
Lellouche’s brilliant idea was to make bespoke-level suits available as RTW for customers who don’t want to wait for a handmade suit (or for those who can’t travel to Naples) by commissioning and distributing a series of bespoke-level Formosa suits made to standard RTW sizes. A great innovation in menswear, which we hope to see replicated by other confidential Neapolitan tailors.
Indeed, most bespoke houses tend to offer a downgraded version of their high-end product when they launch a RTW line.
In the case of the Formosa RTW suits distributed by NMWA, there is little to no difference between the RTW Formosa and the bespoke Formosa, other than the use of standardized patterns for sizing.
By ordering a large amount of these fully handcrafted RTW suits at once, NMWA is able to distribute the suits at a price point below that of bespoke Formosa, while offering a RTW suit that is equivalent to bespoke in terms of the process and the handiwork.
Even NMWA’s fabric choices are inspired by bespoke offerings and given the quasi-bespoke nature of the coats, Lellouche wanted to select premium cloths from the same bunches that a bespoke customer would choose from : H&S, Minnis, Fox Flannel, Caccioppoli, Drapers etc., with the philosophy that there is no point skimping on the cloth in suits at this level of handmade quality.
Thus, we find amongst the Formosa/NMWA suits such rarities as Minnis Fresco or Solaro, which are almost never found in RTW collections.
To date, we regret the absence of the sport coat among the NMWA offering…a surprising decision, given that flamboyant odd jackets are a hallmark of Neapolitan style.
However, for Fall/Winter 2014, NMWA will be offering some sports coats, as well as some Fox Flannel, Minnis worsted and a special re-edition of an extinct Minnis Flannel (# 0656 Houndstooth). The Formosa house-cut may not be to everyone’s taste: it has all of the true Neapolitan style features, meaning that it also includes features that are conveniently overlooked by fashionistas who have fallen prey to the current Neapolitan craze.
A word of explanation is in order here for myth-busting purposes: true Neapolitan bespoke style includes extended shoulders, chest and back drape, and wide sleeves — all of which you would never suspect if you were to look strictly at current fashion images of Neapolitan jackets.
The Formosa jacket includes all the other classic features of Neapolitan style: manica camicia sleevehead; soft natural shoulders with almost no padding; very round quarters; and generous lapels that roll to a low buttoning point (3-roll-2). The trousers have a low rise and are slim from top block to ankle.
All in all, the Formosa suit for NMWA is a magnificent suit that gives us the rare option of snagging an off-the-peg garment so close to bespoke quality–at a price that is especially attractive compared to the pricing and waiting time required for a bespoke suit.
For more info on Formosa, including a short video and additional pictures, click here.
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