Speciale is a fantastic little store within the west of London, making nice bespoke tailoring and distinctive shirts and knits. I ought to have lined Bert and George earlier and I have not, and it is fully my fault.
My solely excuse is location. Speciale is on the prime finish of the Portobello Street, recognized for its market (made extra well-known just lately by Paddington) however in any other case not on the menswear radar. It is not likely near anything, even in west London.
Nonetheless, my job is to hunt these items and I ought to have executed so prior to now. Hopefully right this moment’s article will assist make up for it.
First issues first. ‘Speciale’ isn’t just a reputation picked by two guys that need to say they’re particular in Italian. It was the title of the Florentine tailor, Lettorio Speciale, whose work impressed George to change into a tailor.
George (beneath) had been at artwork college in Florence when he was launched to the tailor Lorenzo Albrighi in Santo Spirito. (The sq. the place all the scholars hang around – if you wish to really feel previous whereas in Florence, go there.)
Albrighi was the final tailor to be skilled by Speciale, and was carrying a jacket he’d made. George was so taken with it that he dropped out and moved to dwell in Albrighi’s workshop in Milan.
In 2014, George returned to London having completed his apprenticeship. That’s the place he met Bert, and the 2 arrange a tailoring enterprise out of Battersea. George returned to Tuscany three years later, to work below the coatmaker Mauro Fanfani after which with Liverano in Florence.
Bert additionally moved to Italy and labored for a small tailor, Rosario Sagliano. However by 2019, each have been again in London, having discovered it arduous to earn a dwelling in Italy. As soon as again they determined to arrange on their very own, with Bert (beneath, proper) specializing in the store and model relatively than tailoring.
“I beloved tailoring however I felt I’d hit a degree the place I had the dangle of it sufficient – paradoxically – to understand I wasn’t truly that good, actually in comparison with George or the folks I regarded as much as,” he says.
The strategy to the store was partly impressed by the Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery, with its dedication to not promote tailor-made jackets or coats however every thing you’d put on with them – on the identical excessive normal.
“There was additionally this uniform you wore as a tailor at your board, of a shirt and sweater daily,” says Bert. “We needed to copy that, although usually with our explicit take.”
The store has been sluggish to replenish, however you possibly can see their standpoint in each the shirts and the knitwear. The V-neck knits and vests, for instance, have a very deep neckline that’s accentuated by the quick physique (designed to put on with high-waisted trousers).
The knitwear is generally cotton, with a small(ish) armhole to make them simpler to put on with tailoring, however a beneficiant physique, and an uncommon mixture of ribbing – 2×2 on the collar however 1×1 on the cuffs and hem.
Bert and George have tweaked issues over time – these knits are actually 3cm longer than they was – however I might say they’re nonetheless finest with high-waisted trousers. I purchased a Massive within the navy crewneck above, for instance, and whereas the cotton, the color and the neckline and excellent, the sleeves are relatively lengthy. With the pale-blue vest, I used to be finest in an Further Massive (pictured) however that meant a good bit of additional room within the physique.
The knits have been additionally designed to be unisex, with a full vary of sizes that women and men can choose by relying on how they just like the match. Emilie Hawtin wears each the vests and the shirts fantastically – as talked about in her piece for us right here.
This implies there aren’t many on the prime finish of the dimensions vary for males. Lucas, for instance, [Nicholson, Permanent Style] was too giant for the vary and usually wears a 44-chest jacket.
The shirts are additionally in a technique of transition, being made now in unique cloths for the primary time – high-count cottons which have a silky really feel, with uncommon uneven stripes.
Sadly after we visited solely two of the colors had arrived, the others being caught in customs. However they confirmed the aesthetic nicely I believe, each being uncommon however refined stripes – cream on blue and the reverse, blue on cream. I attempted a dimension 15.5 and it was a pleasant match, with a degree collar and a beneficiant physique with out being overly massive.
Across the store there are additionally different bits and items, usually with a Florentine theme. The jewelry of Ranfagni, as an example, and show sneakers from Saskia Wittmer. “Florence meant a lot to us,” says Bert, “it made sense to have this within the store”.
“Similar goes for the ties from Sevenfold. I do know the embroidered designs are a bit of quirky, however we couldn’t imagine there was no different stockist within the UK.”
After all, the primary curiosity of many PS readers would be the tailoring – so what’s that like?
George’s tailoring is kind of immediately descended from Speciale, a small home that produced Florentine tailoring pretty just like others we’ve lined reminiscent of Liverano and Vestrucci – no entrance dart, straight entrance edge, gentle make and a lot of hand work.
“Usually in Florentine tailoring the block is kind of fundamental,” says Bert. “You’ve solely received one dart that can assist you, so its actually left to the making to offer a jacket its expression and convey it to life. And there’s a distinctive depth of largely unseen hand and iron work that goes into prepping and making every ingredient of the jacket.
“It’s this that offers it extra form, longevity and cleanliness: how little extra and bulk there may be left in a nook of a lapel, how little lip there may be on the prime of the welt pocket, how clear the roll of the lapel or sleeve-head is, how flush the lapel sits on the chest and so on.”
The making actually is spectacular, and one thing I believe I will find yourself returning to on PS for extra element.
There’s additionally a performance to Florentine handwork that I at all times admire – however Bert describes higher than me: “The factor is the jacket ought to put on and look higher due to the additional work, that’s the important thing: the philosophy is about practicality, not simply prettification. It might probably even be fairly brutal to that finish in locations.”
For instance of this brutality, Bert factors out the the hand seam that’s sewn one centimetre in from the sting of the lapel, however which is so tight it seems like machine work. We’re trying on the previous Speciale jacket they’ve (above) and I’d by no means have noticed that for the work of hand and needle.
“That locks the lapel eternally,” he says. “It truly is constructed across the assumption you’re going to dwell in it.”
Speciale is at 324 Portobello Street, Notting Hill.
Costs (together with VAT):
- Bespoke fits from £4884
- Bespoke jackets from £3806
- Bespoke coats from £4994
Timelines are usually round six months for a primary buyer, with three fittings. There isn’t any travelling at the moment, however trunk reveals to Los Angeles are deliberate for subsequent yr.