The patriarch of respected Neapolitan tie-making house Francesco Marino got his start not adorning men’s necks, but shaving them. Patrick Marino, the third generation of the family to enter the tie-making business, explains: “The company was founded by my grandfather, Ferdinando. He was originally a barber going from house to house. During the war, he went aboard various navy ships to cut, trim and shave the crews. After the war, he realised that there was a market for neckwear.”
Patrick relates that Ferdinando and his wife Grazia started small, establishing what was very much a ‘cottage business’, based in their apartment. His grandmother, a seamstress, started making models and sewing the ties. They found different quality materials from the Piazza Mercato in Naples, which wholesales material supplying dressmakers, tailors and upholsterers, and through trial and error they learnt which materials were best suited to tie making. “My grandfather was the salesman,” adds Patrick, “and with his knowledge of how to treat his clients and keep them content, he had no trouble in finding new customers for his ties. Napoli was a bustling city then — it still is.”
From these humble beginnings the neckwear company came into being — first as MARFER, an amalgamation of MARino and FERdinando, and then, after the death of Ferdinando, when Patrick’s father Francesco took over the business, as Francesco Marino. By the time Francesco assumed the reins, the company had long since expanded beyond the owners’ apartment into a small but bustling workshop. Francesco had spent some time learning the ropes at a larger tie-maker in the US, and applied the skills and methods he’s picked up Stateside at his family firm.
“My father put all his knowledge to work,” Patrick says. “He moved the factory from downtown Napoli to San Giorgio a Cremano. This town on the outskirts of Napoli was well established in the manufacturing of both men’s and women’s apparel. Originally the craftspeople all worked from home. In one home probably everybody sewed, the grandmother, the mother, the daughters, aunts and even neighbours. Each home was a factory with its own production line. Some joined the ties, someone else closed the tie, others sewed on the labels. My father originated the idea of having his workers in the factory.”