“The most characteristic feature is without doubt the Neapolitan jacket, which is super-light, often without shoulder padding or lining. It was invented by local tailors to provide smart jackets that can be worn in the warm season, which in Naples lasts for many months.”
Isaia is not just jackets, but everything that a modern gentleman needs to look his best. Who exactly is the typical Isaia customer?
“A real man, in other words, someone who is not afraid of expressing his feelings, capable even of shedding a tear in public. He is someone who pays great attention to details, he travels a lot, he is dedicated and professional, very ironic and capable of laughing at himself. He always manages to find time for his hobbies and his family. He has the same sort of passion that we have at Isaia.”
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All of Isaia’s garments are made locally by their own artisans. Is it hard to explain their intrinsic quality and culture to customers?
“It’s not easy and it takes time. Take the United States, for example, which is now our largest market, absorbing over half our total sales. When we started working there in 1992, we made garments specially for that nation, large and roomy, certainly not the Neapolitan jacket. But over time we managed to get our message across, and now the products we sell there are the same as those that we sell in Italy, Russia, China and Japan.”
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Today Isaia is an international brand, but it retains its dimension as a fourth-generation family business, strongly linked to its local origins. “One of our greatest assets is the fact that we are entrepreneurs who know our product, and, while we have no problems with accepting business risks, we are happy to maintain gradual growth, 10, 12 or 15% growth every year. For a company that makes everything in-house, it would be unthinkable to double our production in a year.”
Growth is reflected by the retail network. Where is Isaia opening new boutiques?
“We will open a boutique in San Francisco towards the end of July 2017. This is an unusual location, because it was originally a museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Maiden Lane, a short walk from Union Square. It was a stroke of luck: the president of our company, who is American, rang me and told me about the location, and then, using FaceTime, gave me a virtual tour of its exteriors and interiors. It was spectacular. I said, let’s try to get the building and we’ll convert it into a boutique, even though it will be unusual because there are no street display windows.”
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Without doubt, entering the new boutique will feel a bit like visiting Naples. “All over the world, our brand is considered Neapolitan rather than Italian,” says Gianluca, “and it encapsulates a lot of local history and tradition. The company began in Via Seggio del Popolo in central Naples, and even though we have now moved to Casalnuovo, about 13 kilometres from the city, I love returning to that street and imagining my grandfather and father working there in the family shop. Our logo is a branch of red coral, a product that is crafted in Torre del Greco, not far from Naples. And in this part of the country, red coral brings good fortune.”
So, not only will Isaia’s garments hallmarked by the subtle red coral logo ensure that the person wearing them looks good and keeps cool, they may have a pleasant side effect: perhaps they’ll bring you good luck as well.
For some entertaining menswear fashion advice, we recommend the Isaia website, where you can also find information on their stores worldwide.