Stories / August 2019

Isaia and the spirit of Naples

The energy of Naples infects all those who visit, and for those tailors who call it home, it is a constant source of creative inspiration…

We are shaped by the places we inhabit, by their rhythms and forms of life, and none more so than tailoring brand Isaia Napoli. For almost a century, the Isaia family business has flourished in a city known for its charisma, energy, and independent spirit. Naples sits in a ten-mile bay on the Mediterranean, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. The Greeks who first settled the city called it Parthenope, after the siren, a mythological creature who lured sailors to their death with her song. As founding myths go, it’s apposite. The city grew to resemble its namesake: rich, beautiful, and dangerous. ‘Vide Napule e po’ muori,’ as the double-edged saying goes—see Naples then die. Caught between the devastating eruptions of Vesuvius and the great warring empires of Europe, it was not an easy place to live. Yet Naples was both a thriving cosmopolitan city and a kingdom which preserved its own language and traditions.

The city overflowed with cultural life. Naples invented the pizzeria, created modern opera, and produced a distinct and subversive cinema tradition. But it was also a tough fishing town where manual skill trumped technological solutions. Visitors from Northern Europe marvelled that everything from motorboats to lightbulbs seemed broken, yet the Neapolitan had a special knack of making things work—an improvisational spirit. Naples today inherits this passion for art and independent craft. You see it in the city’s unrivalled ateliers for handmade shirts, ties, umbrellas, and suits.

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Alexander Freeling