For the last ten years, we've tried to learn more about tailoring in America, including pinpointing good places to buy or commission a suit in New York City. Yet, reviews of different crafters in the city have been “mixed” over the years, making it difficult to write with confidence about where to look for a suit in the most popular destination in the USA. After a long period of attempting to figure out where to visit based on feedback, observation and intuition, finally this spring, we narrowed the list to three places, as a starting point, to interview the crafters and see the final results for ourselves. These three selections include: Manolo Costa, Sartoria Jensen and Joseph Genuardi (just outside the city in New Jersey).
Most gentlemen who love suiting know the name Manolo Costa, even if not everyone realizes that the brand name is also the name of the man who owns the company. It's now close to a decade, since Mr. Costa adopted the approach of photographing his suits (which are known to have a modern flair with traditional crafting) on a simple mannequin…
The details of Manolo’s suits display: a refined silhouette, generous lapels and distinct lapel roll, a clean shoulder, a pinched waist, a defined notch, a beautiful lapel buttonhole, a neutral button stance, and a trace of the Neapolitan tradition of flaring the jacket sleeve at the wrist. Yet, if you want to see Costa's suits off the mannequin and put into action, look to the man himself for a convincing testimonial.
As a native Peruvian who moved to the states at 18, Manolo planned to follow the example of his father and work in finance; yet, he shared the DNA of two of his aunts, who happen to be seamstresses, and somehow ended up abandoning the world of finance in favor of working in men's clothing.
Flash forward to today, and Manolo is armed with six years experience at Paul Stuart (working to introduce the famed Phineas Cole collection), and a few years at Ralph Lauren (on the Purple and Black label lines).
We visited the Manolo Costa boutique and enjoyed the company of the staff and Mr. Costa.
As Manolo will turn 40 on his next birthday, he now has gained the credibility to say “he knows what he is doing”. There is no question he has a strong story in the business---and a lot of personal style, which should translate into dependable crafting and the chance for clients to tap his brain for stylistic advice.
These points aside, one of the strongest advantages of Costa, is that a suit can be delivered in less than eight weeks; and when time is of the essence, this can be important.
To quote GQ, as early as 2012:
“After years perfecting the personal wardrobes of high profile customers at Paul Stuart/Phineas Cole and Ralph Lauren, Manolo is sifting through swatches, and fine-tuning custom fabrics at his own…studio…
Besides being one of the finest dressers I've ever met, Manolo has something many made-to-measure businesses don't: a real vision. His is equal parts British, and Italian tailoring, but always super masculine and sexy…”
Manolo Costa works with a dedicated atelier in Brooklyn to craft his suits, jackets, trousers and overcoats with different levels of finishing and handwork.
If you would like to visit and commission from the shop, request the top level of crafting available, and start with a first suit, to see if the Manolo Costa style is right for you.
Manolo Costa is a place to visit while traversing your sartorial path, should you find yourself in New York. His Upper Eastside boutique just off of Park Avenue is very well appointed and welcoming—often a place to relax with a drink and a good conversation. Definitely one of the most stylish addresses in New York.
In the late 2000s, Eric Jensen decided to leave the United States and move to Rome to train as a cutter and tailor at the school of Sartoria Gallo. During this three year experience-of-a-lifetime (working from morning to evening, residing at a cut-rate apartment rental, and living off pasta, barrel-poured wine, tomato soup and coffee) with his wife Rachel, Eric found himself addicted to the craft.
During the time of Jensen’s training in Rome, true to the Italian spirit, Maestro Luigi Gallo had no qualms naming Eric as his favorite apprentice, which is no small feat for an American!
Luigi Gallo's own words about Eric:
“[He brings me back to my youth] He’s so passionate and endearing that I wish I could give him everything. I mean, I would never let him go. And keep him at school through the evening!”
After three intense years, Eric earned his Master Tailor certificate, but knew he would have to put in more time doing hands-on cutting and tailoring. Thus, he spent four additional years working as an apprentice for Chris Depos in Chicago.Today, Eric kicks off his fourth year working solo as a Master Tailor in New York City, performing each and every step of the crafting process of the jacket/suit coat by his own hand, from start to finish.
Eric is one of the few remaining American-based tailors to uphold the canons of traditional bespoke tailoring—measuring the client, sketching the pattern on the cloth, striking and cutting, molding the canvas and stitching more than 30,000 stitches on each suit, including a hand-stitched canvas, and hand-stitched collar, with lapels felled by hand. Three or four fittings are included in the process, and trousers are made by a dedicated trouser maker.
Soft tailoring is Eric’s specialty and he is one of the few tailors in the United States that we know of, who can craft an authentic Neapolitan-style suit.
His jacket has a natural shoulder with practically no padding--including shoulder-shirring where the sleeve is attached to the body of the suit (much like a shirt shoulder). This type of shoulder is quite typical in Italy, and is also familiar to the sartorially-inclined gentlemen in the USA. However, stylistically-sheltered Americans may find the shoulder appearance to be unfamiliar. We found Eric's resolve to craft authentic southern Italian-inspired suits to be his strength and see the benefit of staying true to a specific style.
If you like southern Italian tailoring, and want to hire an American tailor, Sartoria Jensen could be your place! The suits are as easy to wear as a pair of jeans and a hoodie—yet with the “style factor” multiplied many times over.
Note: Eric also makes for women, preferring to use additional canvas and cotton wadding to add more structure to the feminine jacket.
To remember Joseph’s last name, think of the term “genuine article” (GENU-ARDI)! After five years of apprentice work in Pennsylvania, with Joseph Centofanti, Joseph Genuardi decided to build upon his tailoring experience in an interesting way, moving to Brooklyn to work for the famous Martin Greenfield. Little did he know at the time of his move, that he would not only become familiar with the many nuances of the Made-to-Measure business, but would also be supporting the set of the television hit series Boardwalk Empire. It was during this time that Joseph refined his technical skills and tuned his stylistic eye, which would prove useful when he set out on his own.
He is now in his fourth year of running his own atelier in Hoboken New Jersey, in close proximity to NYC--a locational trend you will see grow within the next few years.
The old building he works in has an industrial charm, in its rebellion of the bustle of the Big Apple. It’s a calming experience to commission a suit with Genuardi. His work is true to classic and traditional style, with what could be described as an old Hollywood / British vibe. Depending on his workload, he crafts with three other tailors, which includes a experienced trouser maker.
Genuardi's suits are well crafted with a solid structured shoulder, clean lines and a sharp silhouette which isn't too tight. He plays a lot with the button stance, showing his sensitivity to each client's morphology. We particularly like the way Joseph crafts for himself, in regard to lapel width, collar fit and sleeve pitch (even if we prefer a button stance in the range of where the naval could possibly be positioned).
The work of the still young Maestro Joseph Genuardi adds some much needed oxygen to the U.S.A. world of tailoring, and your time will be well spent meeting one of the last of the Mohican bespoke-makers in America.
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