The Love Affair with Vintage Suiting VBC Fabric Academy

The Love Affair with Vintage Suiting VBC Fabric Academy

In his essay, Of the Obsolescence of Man, Hugo Jacomet talks about the loss of past conventions, such as handwriting letters and even walking or running to go somewhere. He points out that when ways of doing things cease to exist, a nostalgia is created for those very things that are lost. To simplify, we feel nostalgia due to loss. For example, we feel intrigued to receive a handwritten letter, and we run “for our health” with no destination in mind

A suit made with a vintage fabric creates a certain emotion as well.

Perhaps wearing a suit that brings to mind earlier generations creates the sort of mood that once existed when men placed a higher value on style–a time when wearing a suit to town was expected and not questioned.

To the contrary, nowadays, if someone wears a suit without an obvious reason, he will likely be quizzed about why he “dressed up”.

Taking the thought process further, more subtle meanings surface, playing on higher ideas such as channeling a time when respect was shown to others through the act of dressing well–a place where wearing a beautiful suit reflected (if only in our minds) a more peaceful era and a less complicated way of life.

Michele VBC Fabric Academy

Vitale Barberis Canonico designer Michele Papuzzo seems to understand the nostalgia effect and how it applies to re-creating fabric from the past for use in a modern world.

The calling to create suits that aptly reflect the past is a little more complicated than making pretty fabrics. For even if the beauty of historical fabrics can claim a real lure, the functionality of authentic vintage cloths can be off-putting, especially when you consider that old wools were once scratchy against the skin and too thick and heavy to be worn in any type of weather conditions other than cold temperatures.

To counter these issues of tactile and temperature-sensitivity problems found in original vintage fabrics, Papuzzo created an entire line of historical-inspired fabrics known as Intrepid. These notable fabrics feel good against the skin and are substantially lighter in weight to give the wearer a three season experience.

After 28 years of working with the world’s oldest mill, Michele is at home at VBC in Pratrivero, Italy, and has witnessed almost three decades of the changing tide of fabric styles and functionality. After graduating from the Institute of Technology in Biella, followed by a brief stint at another fabric mill, Michele found a place of belonging and continues to sharpened his skills in creating classic suiting fabrics.

A VBC thoroughbred initially working alongside Mr. Luciano Barberis Canonico, Michele now works closely with Luciano’s son, Francesco.

With mannerisms and a tone of speech that channel regality, Michele seems like the perfect fit to direct the VBC Intrepid series–known as the definitive group of fabrics with a strong historical reference.


“If he were a textile, Michele would without doubt be something in pure wool, -not completely milled to give it depth- it would be a bright blue, perhaps with a narrow pinstripe, restrained, reassuring. And Michele is really like that, an unimpeachable professional, precise, clear, meticulous, who translates his character and personality into the fabrics he designs.” ~Simone Ubertino Rosso, Head of Communications and Image at VBC


As an indisputable expert of classic fabric design, Papuzzo has chosen for the PG/VBC Fabric Academy two fabrics as his favorites (from a vast selection of up to 4,000 fabric designs a year, as you know).

As he unveils his two fabric choices, he says with authority, “I have chosen these two fabrics because of their outstanding character of appearance…and their distinct temperament in function.”

# 1: MOULINÉ WORSTED SUIT ( 63.813/01 ) 300 G



This rich houndstooth fabric was created as a modern interpretation of a classic fabric for menswear, such as the crossbred (a once-popular dimensional weave achieved by alternating yarns of different thicknesses), and is in my opinion one of the most beautiful fabrics for daywear or for travel.

In order to recreate the charismatic appearance, we use pure wool yarns of 21.5 microns which give the fabric a full, vigorous hand, while the inclusion of the mouliné yarn enhances it with an uneven, country look.

These particular wools, the mouliné effect and the strong-coloured stripes give this fabric a masculine look, with a versatile and comfortable weight of 300 g/meter.

Because the fabric has such a cool-weather texture, it is a great fabric for a winter suit, but also would be ideal to wear as a three-piece suit on an autumn visit to London, or even a brisk spring morning in Verona.

This fabric is most popular principally in the Italian and wider European markets, but is also on the rise around the world.”

Here’s an example of a suit made with another VBC Intrepid Fabric. Note the richness of the colors and dimensional texture.

Intrepid Jacket

To review the Intrepid line further, double-click on the photo for a close-up examination:

IMG_2292 Intrepid

Varying  structural components in the Intrepid fabric series, such as mouliné, slub and knop yarns, as well as many relief weaves, over-dyes, innovative blends, rare materials and thick finishes work together to create a striking vintage cloth line-up.

For those interested in vintage fabrics, here are a few terms to know:

Mouliné or Jaspé: This method was once used to camouflage defects in inferior wools. These fabrics have a dynamic appearance and a full, strong, weighty hand. Yarns are made by folding together two or more different plies with varying colors and/or fibers with different dyeing reactions. The result is a mottled appearance to the fabric surface. This method is used to make historical-based fabrics and is also used to make Fresco fabric.


Slub yarns: As more commonly seen in linen and wild silk, irregular yarn strands with thick places as well as thin areas are either twisted or folded together.


Knop yarn: Plies of yarn are twisted together, with one fiber twisting faster than the other.


Relief weave: A “blistered” effect, with high and low areas on the surface of the fabric.

Over dyeing: The practice of dyeing fibers initially, and then a second or third time with different colors to create a dimensional effect.

Thick finishing (raising): During raising, sharp metal teeth lift surface fibers, giving the fabric hairiness, softness and warmth, as seen in flannels.

# 2: WOOL MOHAIR TROPICAL ( 730.936/400 ) 290 G



This fabric in wool (73%) and mohair (27%) is one of the Vitale Barberis Canonico wool mill’s classics.

Its superiority is already evident from its plain colour where the contrast between the warp and weft threads gives it the characteristic energy and distinctiveness.

In particular, the mohair fibre, which is very similar to silk, gives the fabric the right degree of lustre, the fresh, dynamic hand and makes it perfect for the summer season.

A fabric which is ideal for blazers, for formal suits or for dinner jackets, a passport to any event and which should never be missing from any gentleman’s wardrobe for gala evenings or festive occasions.

An international fabric, very much appreciated by the British, Continental Europeans and the Japanese.

The Vitale Barberis Canonico customers who use this fabric include Drapers, Burberry, Tiger, Marukishi and many others.

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