I first had the pleasure of meeting the Scarantino brothers and founders of Camiceria Medea through the tailor Guido Davi in spring of 2018. As we were standing outside Guido’s workshop in Palermo, he unexpectedly offered to introduce me to a Sicilian bespoke (su misura) shirtmaker that was new to me. I was of course grateful for the offer but hesitated to accept. It meant changing my travel plans in Sicily and taking the next SAIS bus leaving Palermo, whenever that was. That was precisely the conundrum – I was going to arrive late at my next destination and I had never heard of Medea before.
But when a Sicilian tailor offers to introduce a fellow bespoke shirtmaker, one better have a good reason to decline. Looking back, I am glad that I accepted Guido’s offer. Beyond discovering a world-class shirtmaker flying under the radar, I was also able to discover a part of the island I had not yet explored – central Sicily.
Lillo is the sales and customer face of Medea and travels all over the island to meet customers and tailors. Michele is the technical mastermind who tends to the workshop. I met them at their workshop and store in Caltanissetta, a town located almost halfway between Palermo and Catania. My visit formed the basis of my profile of them in Sleevehead’s Guide to Sicilian Tailors (SGST).
As John Julius Norwich writes in his history of Sicily, the island abounds with polysyllabic (esp. pentasyllabic) towns that slip pleasingly off the tongue. In addition to Caltanissetta, I am reminded of Calascibetta (near Enna, hometown of one of the most popular tailors featured in SGST) and Caltagirone (known for its ceramic making) among others.
But back to Medea’s workshop and their shirts. The cutting room is upstairs and downstairs contains the sewing and finishing area as well as the retail storefront. In terms of staff, they have a couple of sewers in the workshop. In terms of cloth, their selection is superb – Albini, Grandi & Rubinelli, among others. Lillo showed me a length of Albini 300/2 (2 ply or doppio ritorno) that drapes almost like silk with a marvelously fine and soft hand. If you have the opportunity, it’s worth a visit to peruse the rolls of exceptional shirting cloth they stock onsite.
Normally, they work directly with the cotton shirting manufacturers and there are good reasons for doing so. But in my case I also brought a length of very high quality Alumo shirting to be made into a casual button-down shirt.
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