I have said it earlier but one of the best things in #menswear is when you get to know new brands, new garments and people behind them. In the summer a friend of my Corey, who also is the founding editor of A&H Magazine introduced me a brand I had no earlier experience or knowledge about, though I had seen some pics on web and on instagram which had attracted my interest. The brand was and is called Francesco Serraiocco.
An example of wearing the tie in "smart casual" set-up. For more details and pics check the post here.
Francesco Serraiocco ties - made by hand
Frank is a young and talented guy - based in Detroit, USA - whose brand Francesco Serraiocco is concentrated on ties and pocket squares which most of Frank makes himself. In addition one can order sport coats and jackets, all handmade in Naples. The ties he make himself are all made from start to finish by hand and feature a 9-fold construction (something you really don't see offered very often).
After a little chat Frank offered me a chance to take a closer look of the ties he make by making me a tie of my choice. After giving him my preferences - which was light brown color and a material that could be used all-year-round - he came up and suggested tobacco colored raw silk (for those who are not familiar with this type of material, raw silk is simply silk that has not been chemically processed) and to me that sounded just like what I had been looking for.
As seen here the knots very nicely and does not get too bulky even when using a double FiH which is the knot I personally tend to use most often.
The construction and details of folds are clearly visible when taking a closer look of the tie.
Unlined and untipped, featuring naturally hand rolled edges.
Saddle stitching made with a bit darker brown to create a little contrast on the back of the tie.
First impression - how is the tie?
It's now been about 6 months since I received the tie so I'm not sure if "first impression" is the right way to put it but.. First of all a thing I was surprised - in a positive way - when I got the tie was the fact how "thin" and kind of "petite" - one might even say sophisticated - it was, as because of the "9-fold construction" I was waiting something much more "bulky".
In addition I've been really fond of the material as I it is just what I was looking for, something that can be used through the year and all seasons. In terms of material and texture it goes well with cotton and linen jackets during the summer but also works even with flannel and wool suits during the colder months of the year.
According to Frank the ties he makes personally are done 100% by hand and no sewing machine is used at all. The process from cutting to finish takes about 4 hours for one tie. Even though I still can't claim to be an expert when it comes to judging the objective quality of certain garments I can honestly say that I am impressed and satisfied with the level of workmanship, finishing and details of the tie I got and the tie itself definitely satisfies my "feel good factor" (which you can read more about for example from here.)
Q&A with Frank
Recently Frank was kind enough to take his time and answer a few questions about himself and the ties he make. At this point I believe these words will tell more than I can describe so take a look.
1) Who are you"?
Both of my parents were born in Italy, coming from very modest roots and hard working families. They eventually came to the USA with the hopes of finding a better life and opportunity to raise a family. Naturally, they pushed me to a find a career that would be stable, in demand, and would be something that I could depend upon. Therefore, I graduated from the university with a degree in Accounting, and currently work as a CPA in a global accounting firm.
Eventually, I wanted something a bit more artistic and creative, and decided to create a menswear brand, Francesco Serraiocco, that would encompass the very best of Italian made menswear.
2) How would you describe your own style?
My style is very heavily Neapolitan, with bits of inspiration pulled from several sources. I would still say that my largest menswear inspiration would be Domenico Vacca. He has managed to bring sartorial menswear a bit more into the Hollywood realm, which seems to be heavily dominated by the "large name brands" that really do not focus on true tailoring craftsmanship. Sciamat is another fantastic brand that has inspired me with their originality, yet keep tailoring at a very high level. I like how they are able to slightly exaggerate some of the key characteristics of handmade tailoring, to make it more apparent, yet not overstate the garment.
Having said that, the clothing of Francesco Serraiocco keeps in mind all of the aspects of traditional Neapolitan tailoring, but adds many of my personal touches with regard to the styling. This would include higher placed lapels, generally on the wider side, a 3 button front that rolls to the middle button, usually patch pockets on the sides of the jacket with slightly exaggerated curves, as well as a more exaggerated breast pocket, a well pleated shoulder to make an obvious "spalla camicia", no shoulder padding, and hand stitching on every seam of the garment (several of which are double stitched). I personal feel that tailoring is a complete art form. Just like a sculpture, the more that is done by hand, the personal it feels and really creates a lasting impression.
3) How did you become a tie-maker?
When I first started "Francesco Serraiocco" I wanted to have a personal touch involved. Therefore, I wanted to start with an item that I could personally create, as I am self-taught, and not a full tailor. Since I am very proficient in sewing with a needle and thread, I decided to start with ties and pocket squares. For the remainder of my garments, I leave those to my incredibly talented master tailors in Napoli, Italia.
4) Most of your ties are made with a pretty rare 9-fold construction, why so?
Yes, the ties that I personally make use a nine-fold construction (nove pieghe). The reason for this actually goes back to before I started the brand. I had been very interested in finding a seven-fold tie. Through months of looking for what seemed to be a very rare item, I came to find out that actually there is no single way of making a seven-fold tie. However, there were several characteristics which seemed to be similar among the different styles, and some things that seemed a bit out of place. The common theme was that there were several folds in each tie, although not the same number of them across the different brands. Then I began to take some apart to see how they were constructed, and discovered something rather stunning, which was that many of the brands cut the fabric of the folds at the point where the tie is stitched shut. In doing so, the internal portion of the tie ends up being exactly the same as a regular "3 fold" tie (including the canvas internal), but results in each tip having more folds.
To me, the general idea behind having more fabric and more folds was to eliminate the need for the internal canvas, or at the very least to create a thicker more hefty tie if the canvas was included. The canvas in the tie does not inherently make it poor quality, I just felt that there is a way to accomplish the same goal, but in a more luxurious manner for those that want the best of the best. So, this began my interest in creating a tie that was substantial enough to line itself due to its construction, rather than using a foreign canvas as an aid. Thus, we arrive at a nine-fold tie, which, as the name implies, has been folded nine times in order to create both the beautiful tips at each end, but also can support itself throughout the rest of the tie, without the need for the canvas. Each fabric being used is given special consideration as to the effect that it will have on the thickness and weight, and is adjusted as needed.
5) I've heard you have a web shop opening soon, when will that happen?
Yes, the website and online shop for Francesco Serraiocco will be available in the beginning of November. There will be a selection of jacket offerings, entirely handmade in Napoli, Italia, available in standard sizing, as well as custom made upon request. Additionally, there will be a variety of ties made in Italy, using my very specific pattern, as well as a more limited collection of ties made by me personally.
And remember to check out - www.francescoserraiocco.com. The website is still under construction and will be open in the beginning of November.
While waiting for the website to be published, one can take a look at Franks tumblr-page which gives a sneak peek of the pieces he make and showcases his own style as well.