This past April I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon with Claudio Italiano, his father Luigi, their new apprentice Gloria and friend Christina who helped translate our conversation. Becoming a tailor is difficult enough. But I would argue that becoming a Sicilian tailor (let alone a Sicilian tailoring house) is unusually demanding. After a few hours of uninterrupted conversation, those challenges became crystal clear to me – ongoing political and economic sluggishness, lack of artisanal support locally and regionally, and continued economic underdevelopment of southern Italy relative to the wealthier north.
Against this backdrop, I came away deeply impressed with amazing individuals like Gloria who are becoming apprentice tailors against all odds. As I described in the Instagram post of my visit: “There is passion. Then there is Sicilian passion. The new generation has a profound dedication to craft. Palermo tailor Claudio Italiano, his father and their apprentice Gloria are reshaping what it means to be an Italian and Sicilian sartoria of the future.”
How does one become a Sicilian apprentice tailor? Not easily but it helps when the tailor is well connected in the tailoring community. This is precisely how Gloria eventually came into contact with the Italianos. For this reason, I would categorize Sartoria Italiano as a true Sicilian tailoring house. In a previous blog post, I wrote about the rarity of Sicilian tailoring houses. That still holds true, which makes the exceptions always more interesting.
The most obvious feature of a tailoring house is its continuity over time. Case in point: Claudio and his father took over the atelier of Giuseppe Ferina whom I profiled in the first edition of SGST. It was through this mutual connection that Gloria became an apprentice at Sartoria Italiano. Before their partnership, Luigi worked with one of the most well-known Sicilian tailors of the “golden age” – Giovanni La Parola.
Even rarer, this is a Sicilian tailoring house with two young tailors – Claudio and Gloria – which bodes very well for the future.
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