Style / April 2018

Luca Avitabile: Collar Code

Neapolitan shirtmaker Luca Avitabile crafts not only fantastic bespoke shirts, but also polos that stand up to the test when worn with tailoring.

White linen jacket, Richard James; forest green long sleeve cotton polo shirt, Luca Avitabile; blue and green paisley silk pocket square, New & Lingwood. Styling by Jo Grzeszczuk, photograph by Olivier Barjolle.

The Luca Avitabile brand of bespoke shirting is relatively new. Luca struck out on his own a few years ago, after having gained no small measure of renown and respect as the cutter for his previous partnership, Satriano Cinque. But Luca’s artisanal DNA goes way back — almost a century, in fact.

“My story began with my grandmother, Emilia Calabi,” he says. “It was 1927 and Emilia had been working as a seamstress at Camiceria Kiurli, a bespoke shirtmaker in Naples.” After spending two decades perfecting her craft and saving the funds to set up on her own, in 1948 Emilia established a tailoring workshop near Naples’ central station. “My grandfather Alfredo did the selling and Emilia the sewing,” Luca explains.

Subsequently, in the 1960s, Luca’s father joined the family business and moved the workshop from Naples to San Giorgio a Cremano, which Luca describes as “a bustling village full of family-run shirtmakers and tiemakers”. Here, Luca says, “I grew up surrounded by sewing machines and fabrics; my father’s workshop was shrouded in a magical atmosphere and soon I knew that I wanted to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps.”

Luca studied textile technology and patternmaking for men’s shirts at the famed Milan School of Fashion Instituto Secoli, and under the Satriano Cinque brand, began to cut bespoke shirts for clients in Naples. This customer base quickly spread to Milan, and eventually New York and London, where he held trunk shows alongside tailor Luigi Solito — another scion of a long Neapolitan sartorial line.

“I think travelling helps to meet new clients and also to spread out the relaxed Neapolitan style in the world. Initially, I was inspired by my grandmother who loved this job, and today, I take inspiration not only from Neapolitan tailors, but also from the clients I meet on my international travels,” Luca says.

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Christian Barker

Christian Barker is The Rake's Asia editor-at-large, a frequent contributor to this site, and an enthusiastic consumer of fine whiskies, sashimi and classic disco music - ideally in unison.