Since 2008, The Rake has - with an unwavering approach - celebrated true
artisanship, and in the process covered in microscopic detail countless makers of finely-made goods in great length.
Be it meticulously hand-welted Oxfords, the rarest of seven-fold ancient silk ties or mind-boggling complex
tourbillon complications, craft is our raison d’être. With that said, allow us to introduce to you Fralbo, a Neapolitan shirtmaker founded in 2005.
You may not have heard of the brand, yet it produces shirts for a long list of houses that you will most certainly
be familiar with. It was founded by brothers Francesco and Alessandro Boccia — the company name is portmanteau of
their first names — who are the third generation of shirtmakers within their family.
Last year, we visited Alessandro - known as Ale - armed only with the basic knowledge
that Fralbo has been producing shirts for some of the most reputable sartorial houses for several years from a
medium-sized laboratory.Warmly greeting us in the workshop with a sweet and silky espresso
on a hot September’s day, Ale proceeded to explain his lineage, surrounded by age-old shears, bolts of fine cottons
and collar samples. I asked what he was doing prior to setting up Fralbo and he was quick to respond with a great
deal of assurance that he has always been a shirtmaker, and nothing else. Like many Neapolitan artisans, his career
path was predetermined — his mother was a shirtmaker, and her mother - Anna Barone - was too.
There are two lines of shirting that we now have the pleasure of offering online. The
first comes under the Fralbo name. They feature eight points of true handwork, some of which are functional and some
of which are merely for aesthetics. These include the armholes, buttons, sleeve gauntlets and gussets, which feature
a double-stitched edge, buttonholes, collars, yokes and front plackets. The rest of the shirt is constructed via the
reliable hands of a skilled seamstress, like the side seams and bottom hems. Overall, it takes at least four hours
to produce a Fralbo shirt.
The exclusive Anna Barone collection for The Rake, though, is something that we
are very honoured to offer. Born in 1933, the spirit of Ale's grandmother lives on through his work. He tells me
that “every shirt that comes out of this place, I feel it has been made by my grandmother,” underlying their intense
passion for their craft.
Using Super 200 cottons, it takes a whole day to produce a single Anna Barone shirt and
each one features the full 17 points of handwork. So, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that they’re roughly
£500 each – the button holes themselves take four hours to sew. To demonstrate the level of quality, Ale chalked out
the pattern directly onto a gingham check cloth. He then removed his solid guideline, and proceeded to cut freehand
each section of the shirt. The way he’s able to match the pattern of the cloth across the entire body, meeting in
perfect unison at every seam, is very special and highly skilled. The underarm construction is particularly telling
of Ale’s extreme aptitude in the art of shirtmaking, as, in comparison to other shirtmakers who allow a parallel
seam, Ale allows a subtle curvature, which gives a greater freedom of movement. The collars are un-fused, but at the
back of the neck there’s a floating lining which allows a necktie to be securely tied and when worn without a tie,
it sits perfectly beneath the collar of a jacket.Other areas that are constructed by hand
include hand-rolled hems, which are clearly noticeable. The shoulders feature a mappina sleeve head, and the
puckering of cloth as it the gathers into the shoulder is particularly aesthetically pleasing.
Following the demonstration and tour, we pulled out several bolts of cloth and examined
the various collar styles on offer to produce this exclusive collection that you will not find anywhere else online.
So, if you’re looking for something on the casual end of the spectrum, the Egyptian cotton jersey polo
shirts are for you, or if you’re wanting to make a statement with a business shirt, there are
understated or expressive options aplenty. In my opinion, though, the pick of the bunch is the indigo denim
button-down with the Ralph Lauren-styled collar. A perfect middle ground between the two pillars
The Anna Barone Collection expressively
for The Rake