This is the second in a series of interviews with the Sicilian tailors who participated in the 2020 Trofeo Arbiter tailoring competition in Milan. They were the largest representative body to represent Sicilian tailoring in at least 20 years.
This interview is with Claudio Italiano of Sartoria Italiano based in Palermo. The pandemic interrupted our fittings and visits for 2020 but I look forward to working together again for more Sicilian Reserve appointments in 2021.
1. 2020 has been a difficult year. What has been the most difficult part for you so far?
The most difficult part of this year that we are leaving behind was certainly COVID-19, which still leaves an indelible mark on the world today. Many companies have found themselves in great difficulty, myself included. I hope that with the new year and the arrival of vaccines there is a recovery, but I am convinced that it will take a little longer.
2. How has the pandemic affected your life and your tailoring business?
It is clear that both I and many of my colleagues have had to stop our work, as it is not among the essential activities. We could not receive customers, not even travel because many of us work outside Sicily, including abroad. Most marriages are all postponed (hopefully) to 2021.
During the closure I did my part, making and donating cotton masks to those who needed them most, including doctors and people who worked during the emergency, without receiving money. After the summer there was a slight recovery, but certainly among all that happened in this 2020 the Arbiter Trofeo in Milan made me raise my spirits a little.
3. I would like to mention and congratulate you on one positive highlight this year – your participation in the Arbiter Trofeo tailoring event in September. How did you choose your fabric and design your suit for the competition?
I thank you for the compliments and of course I would like to say that even if you were not physically present, you your heart was with us. I originally chose the fabric in New York at the end of January. Actually I was with you in a fabric shop that you introduced me to during our visit to American customers between New York and San Francisco.
Back in Sicily, the managers of Milano su Misura asked me to order the fabric directly from Loro Piana. I chose a gray pinstripe with a blue line and for the details I took the blue line as a reference. The peculiarity of the fabric was a Super 170’s made of wool and silk, which was the same one I bought in America. I took care of this fabric also because I had never worked it before, I wanted something innovative. Then, as I told you before, I played a lot with the details using the blue line as a reference.
4. Have you changed your views on tailoring after experiencing the competition?
Absolutely! Just the fact of having been among so many tailors from all over Italy is already a victory for me, regardless of the competition. For me it was a party, there was a lot of harmony and I appreciated everyone’s work. There wasn’t a single bad suit and I wouldn’t change anything about those two days.
5. What was the most memorable moment for you at the Trofeo?
Certainly we had two days of celebration and there was a lot of harmony between us. In my opinion the most memorable moment was the catwalk. I remember the round of applause at each exit of the model who was accompanied by the tailor as well as their return. It was exciting!
6. Are you planning to return next year?
Of course! And I already know which fabric to use this time.
7. Finally, in addition to a return to normalcy, what would you like to see more of next year?
First of all health, that we are all fine and that this pandemic will soon end. And if there was even a little work, I wouldn’t mind.