Adriano Carbone, like his workspace in Melbourne's CBD, has a distinct European vibe. From his dress sense to the manner in which he speaks, it is clear that Carbone comes from a multi-generation family of European-inspired master tailors. And with his wife Maria, and two apprentices by his side, the tradition continues.
“I’m a young gun," says Carbone. "I get old techniques and modern techniques and marry them into one. And that’s how I create a product."
The type of men (and women) that come to Carbone are from varied walks of life: career paths, social status, physique and age are just some. But they do have a certain thing in common explains Carbone.
"Often those that come in to see me have already seen other tailors. They've had garments altered or designed and not been happy with them," Carbone sympathizes. "They're frustrated."
The suit savior, Carbone says he provide essentially made-to-order, tailored garments and bespoke pieces - these being fully canvassed and fully handmade. Between the three, there are vast differences.
"Everyone is selling made-to-order garments at the moment," says Carbone. "That simply involves taking a few measurements, making the piece and then having the customer try it on. It’s done. However, tailor made is when a garment is fitted-out to the customer perfectly."
That can even involve a process of fittings before the garment is actually finished.
"In addition, there is the option of ordering a hand tailored bespoke suit where a customer can design anything from the width of the lapel to the pocket positioning," he says. "Even small details like the type and color of button and cotton linings used can be customized. It really is 'design-your-own anything."
The attraction of made-to-order suiting (compared to tailor made and bespoke) is usually linked to increased efficiency, the cost of the overall piece and the delivery date in which it will be ready to picked up. The next affordable option, tailor made, improves on made-to-order with its fit-precision.
The crowning jewel in the dapper man's closet, however, is the bespoke suit. The biggest difference is the option of having the suit with full canvassing. Cut to the jacket’s shape, a horse hair canvas (typically) is stitched the lining of the jacket. Over time, as you wear the coat, the canvas conforms to your body’s shape, creating an excellent fit and stops any chance of sagging. Other bespoke benefits include repeat fittings to get the perfect fit, as well as elements of hand stitching and crafted button holes.
Bespoke is super luxurious. And it does come at a cost. In today's market, a top-level suit takes between 70-100 hours to make and is priced with the vicinity of $15,000-$20,000.
"But that’s a totally hand-made garment. For a more affordable option, the average suit wearer can expect to pay around $2,500 for a made-to-order suit."
But time is another factor.
"I have customers willing to wait six months for their garments," says Carbone. "Usually, a client will come in, they will have a fitting and then buy the garment. That is standard. But with me, they always come back in and buy another. And they are prepared to wait," he says.
During the ten years that Carbone, and his wife Maria, have been in business, the clientele has rapidly expanded. This tailor is all about his people and choses to cut fabrics in his shop window for passerbys to witness.
"I enjoy it and don’t feel intimidated when people watch. For me, cutting fabric and patterns in front of bystanders is like signing my name off on a piece."
Carbone, like most tailors, incorporates wools, cashmeres, cottons and silks into his suiting.
One of his top suppliers is Huddersfield Cloth - a specialist textiles merchant famously used on London's Savile Row. The West Yorkshire-based producer offers English Wool Worsted suit fabrics, incorporating heritage tradition and technology to craft some of the finest, high quality textiles. These include the coveted Super 120 range - is a worldclass cloth offering unique patterns for contemporary and classic suiting. Spun, woven and finished in Huddersfield, the range has proven to be a best seller for tailors across the globe.
The amount of hours that go into learning and understand the art of tailoring today are extensive due to its focus on customization.
"Tailoring is about fitting the garment to the client’s actual body," says Carbone. "Once you understand tailoring and the work that is involved, it becomes very hard. Unfortunately, that scares a lot of people away from continuing the craft."
Carbone's wife, Maria Cozzo, has been a core element of physical and emotional support to the business since its 2004 debut. She provides a hopeful perspective.
“He has two apprentices: one of then is Daniel, my son," says Cozzo.
"Hopefully, they will take on the knowledge Adrian has and wants to pass on. They want to continue the art of tailoring.”