28 November 2010

History & Soul

La linea di questo vestimento stata creata nel mio atellier Catania a tutela dell'arte sartoriale Italiana nel mondo-Domenico Nicolosi

or, roughly:

This line of dress was created in my atelier in Catania to protect the world class art of Italian tailoring-Domenico Nicolosi

Wow, that's pretty serious. What follows is the story of a thrift shop find which to date clearly out dose everything I've ever found, and by a mile at that. But it's not so much about the garment itself as it is about history, soul, and even wonder. Bear with me.

You all know I'm cheap and broke with tastes that extend well beyond my means, for whatever inexplicable reason. You all know I've honed quite a knack over the years for turning up gems in the garbage, shall we say. I've told you how thrift shopping is fun, how you can own things you never thought possible, how it's "green", etc.etc. All well and good, but let's discuss the more ethereal and emotional things going on here. Just this once, I promise.

Tha label is sewn into the neck of a navy blazer I turned up on Black Friday at a 50% off sale in a truly filthy and chaotic place full of crazy people and wailing children. The coat is made of a heavy weight serge cloth the likes of which barely exists anymore. It's thick like something a military uniform might be made from, meant to keep it's wearer warm. Except the cloth is fine, not coarse. It weighs like a coat. It's 6x2 double breasted, has a ticket pocket, five button surgeon cuffs, and hand felled button holes, all ear marks of the fact that it was made by hand by a guy named Domenico in Catania, Sicily, likely in the mid 1970s by my educated guess. Domenico wasn't doing this just because some guy with enough money wanted to have a custom navy blazer, no. He was doing it to "protect" the art of Italian tailoring. This was a man who was serious about his art. That label, and the way it's sewn in with orange cross stitches, is packed with more guts and soul than anything I've found in the crazy land of thrift stores. It'll make a grown man cry.

Who commisioned this piece of art? Who was Domenico Nicolosi, really? I've tried to research hom for the past two days, but nothing. The buttons have all been removed. Is it because they were real gold? How did it come to be squashed into an ovefilled rack in a dirty and chaotic thrift store in Massachusetts? How did I come to find it? Divine Providence? I'm a creative, right brain type of guy, so this kind of stuff really turns my crank. You don't get that in most "normal"stores.

It's about a 48 long, and it's a thing of beauty. Alas, far too large for me. It's up for grabs in the Shop. Forgive me a momentary shill, please. While it's true that making money is nice, I do, in fact, take pleasure in the knowledge that these sartorial orphans are finding loving homes. If you're about 6'2", 220 lbs., and any of what I just said means anything to you, you know what to do.

Make our man Domenico proud.

as per my recent absence: the Pink Eye. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.


Jho78 said...

Wow. Another amazing find.

Old School said...

Ciao Giuseppe,

"Linea" is "cut" (of a jacket/suit)
as in "la linea classico di un abito".

My translation:

"The cut of this article of clothing was designed in my atelier in Catania to preserve the art of Italian tailoring for the world".

A free translation:

"This jacket was created in my atelier in Catania to help preserve the art of Italian tailoring"

Orthodox Trad said...

Notes on the Catania school of tailoring:


Giuseppe said...

Old School,

thanks for the more accurate translation


thanks for the homework

Old School said...


spoozyliciouzz said...

Wow, this is one seriously great piece of cloth...and hell boy, you got golden hands when it comes to thrifting.

Adam King said...

Dude - You really need to raise your prices. You are practically giving this stuff away. Everything you've got could sell for 2x the price you've got them listed at and they'd all still be great deals. Just sayin.

Gregorius Mercator said...

6'3"ish but, alas, only a 42.


Thad said...

If I was only a little heavier ...

Anyway, I hope that it finds a good home!

Anonymous said...

Soul is the correct word here. Such passion for one thing is definitely enough to make a guy well up. If he still made clothing (well, for all we know, he still does in some little shop we'll never know about), I suspect his goods would be all over the blog world.

For no real reason whatsoever, I get the feeling Domenico was feeling flustered at the flashy designer crap that was being flung about back then with the rise of such brands. He probably created that wild jacket to show what was possible by the best of the best, to blow the designers out of the water with such style and quality they couldn't stand it. A double breasted jacket with a ticket pocket and five button functional cuffs? Probably unheard of back then. While the world may no longer know Domenico Nicolosi, with the likes of Cucinelli and Rubinacci, he's probably resting easily knowing the art survived and continues.

I'm glad us thrifters are around to recognize the truly special items among the fraying masses and bring them to light for someone else. Great post.

Roger v.d. Velde said...

That description is simply mouth-watering. Just the words 'heavyweight serge cloth'. It's frankly appalling that so many modern jackets/suits are made from such thin cloth, and yet priced so high!
Even a bespoke suit of today is somehow different, and I can compare an example I have with an altered ready-to-wear suit my recently deceased grandfather wore which dates from about the 1950s - twice as thick and that was supposed to be the one he wore in late Autumn!

The way you (and others here) ressurrect gems from the past and, more importantly, wear them, means people get to see what kind of quality was once available, and to perhaps demand it again.

Steve Pirates said...

I am grateful that you sell at such reasonable prices. Adam is right, you could get a lot more for many of these pieces. I am glad that you're making them accessible to others for less than maximal profit.

I envy the quality of your thrift stores. I live in Reno... you should see our local second hand shops.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I've always noticed how much heavier fabrics were on suits and jackets in the past, and the historian in me wonders if it has to do in part with changes in the efficiency, effectiveness, and cost of indoor heating. Perhaps a suit like Roger's grandfather's was more readily available at a time when a) fewer people (proportionally) lived in the warmer climate zones of the U.S. (Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix all having experienced explosive growth since the early 60s), and b) it was simply colder much of the time indoors.

And, as others have said, amazing jacket.

Enapa said...

Cool find. But - can we have a second, or updated, post show the whole jacket? I'm really curious.

As to the cloth quality, Everyone complains about how thick cloth isn't made anymore, but the fact is that improved indoor heating probably has something to do with it. If you want to wear a suit to work, you simply can't wear a thicker one since you'll be sweating crazy much.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of being enthusiastic, Affordable, I do love your stuff, though can you do food again soon?

In the matter of central heating and heavy fabrics, I've recently bought two or three beautiful old Savile Row suits that practically stand up on their own and I can probably only wear them, even here in England, November to February. But they didn't cost much and I don't have to wear an overcoat unless it's snowing.


Young Fogey said...

Reasons for thinner cloth:

1. Better heating and insulation, in homes, offices, and cars
2. Thinner cloth requires less raw material and is therefore cheaper to make
3. Increased population in warmer climes
4. The growth of planned obsolescence

I'm sure there are more, but that's what pops to mind.

Anonymous said...

Very good post.