The research work for my second book to be published at Thames & Hudson in the winter of 2016, took Sonya and me along the roads of Italy to meet some of the most prestigious and respected names in Italian tailoring. If you’d like to read about the first major leg of our trip, see our report on “The Italian Gentleman“.
The sojourn of dozens of appointments can get blurry at times as we try to become familiar with celebrated and remote names alike. Yet a few visits shook us and left us with lasting impressions. Such is the case when meeting with the renowned sartoria Santandrea Milano, located (in spite of the second half of the name) in the quaint coastal town of Fano in the Italian Marches off the Adriatic sea coast.
Fano is a historical Italian town linked to Roma since 220 BC (!) through the “Via Flaminia”— one of the most famous Roman roads in Italy (with Fano being the easternnmost destination on the path).
As a town located out of the ‘usual circuit’ to put it mildly, Fano is a far cry from typical men’s style capitals such as Rome, Milan, Florence and Naples. But it is here that where we discovered firsthand, Santandrea– a supremely high level manufactory such as only Italy knows how to keep alive anymore.
We came to Fano with high expectations ; Santandrea, also known under the anglicized name St. Andrews is known for excellence, as the company supplies suits for some of the most famous brands in the luxury industry worldwide.
Despite such a stellar reputation, this day marked our first chance to visit what is one of the last sartoria in the world who operates according to the traditional artisanal way, embracing “old school” work methods. Each worker is specialized in a single type of operation ; which can include tasks such as cutting the suit, working on inner linings, assembling sleeves or collars, and stitching buttonholes and interlinings. Each jacket travels through multiple sets of hands throughout a painstakingly long fabrication process.
Discovering a workshop on this large of a scale is quite the experience, even for so-called ‘seasoned travelers’, as we find ourselves on a continuous course to visit as many artisans in the sartorial world as we are able to cover.
But Santandrea has something that many other manufacturers miss — active attention to the ‘manu’ root of the word “manufacture”, with a substantial part of production including strictly-by-hand ‘manual’ work. Here are a few pictures from our photographer Lyle Roblin, shot for the upcoming “Italian Gentleman” book.
A number of the tasks undertaken at Santandrea is reminiscent of the same level of work we’ve witnessed at custom tailoring workshops, with the major difference being that Santandrea houses more than 250 tailors working under the same roof !
The workshop is a studious place indeed with everyone extremely concentrated on the task at hand. Everyone is lined up behind small desks, such as the ones you might have known when going to school, as shown in the picture above (along with a stunning picture of PG’s very own Sonya).
These days the words artisan, tailor and traditional are tossed around by marketing folks in the name of sales hype, with most of these marketing musketeers not even able to identify a true artisan if they met him or her face-to-face, let alone talk shop about authentic tailoring. Yet, it’s reassuring to witness an Italian operation of such a scale in place where the honor of the tailoring language is cautiously preserved (Italy is not the center of the sartorial world for nothing !).
To reiterate, the business is known under two names : St Andrews, and Santandrea. St Andrews is the name of the business branch dedicated to crafting high level garments for international luxury brands (about 90% of the company’s business as it stands right now). Santandrea is the new house-brand – reserved for the house’s own products and sold under its own name.
Founded in 1968, the company was bought in 2006 by the Trabaldo Togna group, a very big name in the Italian fabric industry, famous for its discreet and distinct extensible fabrics (also known as “Estrato“) which are woven in a way to move more easily with the body.
Santandrea Milano products are accessible :
* In Santandrea showroom in Milan (see address below) where consumers can come by appointment and get measured and fitted.
* At home/office for personalized measuring and fittings by the house’s tailors.
* In a few specialized retail spots around the world which distribute the beautiful Santandrea’s ready-to-wear.
* In the most exclusive multi-brand stores throughout the world, such as Maison Degand in Brussels. This collaboration is the brainchild of a superb range of high-level suits and jackets (below are a few examples).
The company is led by Mr. Perluigi Canavelli, a veteran high level manager that has kept St. Andrews / Santandrea on the path of commercial viability through thick and thin, with an obsession for uncompromising quality.
As for the house garments, please take a look at the following images. We believe they speak for themselves.
Santandrea ranks among the few Italian companies intent on protecting their bloodline of savoir-faire, and is definitely a brand that should be on your radar—if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the few cities where Santandrea is distributed.
Assuredly, one of the finest sartoria in activity today.
– Discover Santandrea’s collection on the PG Guide.
– And here is a link to Santandrea’s website
– Santandrea Milano showroom : Via Bagutta 8, Milano.