May 22, 2013 by Ville Raivio
‘Several things happened the year I was born. Besides sad events concerning those pre-war days, Orson Wells broadcasted the War of the Worlds and Italy won its second World Football Championship against Hungary. I’m talking about 1938 and I’m passionate of true, natural, exclusively Made in Italy handcrafted tailoring. I studied both in Italy and in the UK, on the books at the very beginning, between 1953 and 1959. Then I attended to several practical stages covering all the steps allowing transforming raw wool into fabrics. I then met and learned from tailors, shirt makers and shoemakers. My family is the reflection of my respect for traditions: my wife and my daughters and sons always understood my way of conceiving elegance and my stubbornness in defending principles I believe in. My enthusiasm is shared by all of them to the point that they are all extremely involved in what I do.
In a family business like ours, when you are immersed into creating good feelings for others, work quickly turns into a pleasure. Since I was very young, I was able to have fun and enjoy what I do: nothing could be more delightful for parents than knowing that their kids do what they wish to do. I was thirty years old and very much involved in the family mill. I always loved horse riding: maybe, I could have become a champion. One day, Murray Pearlstein incited me to fly with my own wings, and so I did. I’ve always been a lover of the typical countryside-evergreen-
Of course, my background is also technical, but the most useful thing is to learn from the battlefield and to improve your senses, specially sight and touch. For both of them, loving Nature is extremely helpful. My favourite garments are those that I don’t feel on my body: jackets, for instance, must fit like a second skin, like a glove and follow perfectly the curves of your body. There are so many tailors out there, yet the Neapolitan school is the one I prefer: It’s a matter of experience, feeling, touch, manic attention for details. Yes, they are unique. As I previously mentioned, Nature is something I deeply love. You’ve got colours, shapes, patterns and that’s why it must be preserved. In this world, there can’t be inspiration without Nature and style cannot be created exclusively in the labs.
I often define style as “sprezzatura” and a man must face the world with sprezzatura. It literally means detachment, but a better way to think of it is quiet confidence or low-key style. The most forceful statement is understatement. It is the philosophy behind everything I do. Style is having people noticing you without struggling to do so. The Carlo Barbera mill is where I began my experience as a designer. I always prefer unique fabrics where noble fibres are to be used at their utmost. Because I don’t like flat fabrics that so many others manufacture as if it was the top of textile expression, Carlo Barbera fabrics are alive, tactile, and materic. I love fulled fabrics in winter and I recommend our carded flannel in springtime, maybe worn together with linen jackets or made out of a hopsack fabric.
When all the others were producing standard fabrics we began using fibres with a 140.000 count (which means we were able to obtain 140.000 metres of fibre per kilo) and a choice between 1.500 colours. This is also true specialisation in the textile art: small productions which are exclusive and custom for those who appreciate what we do. They can expect that we’ll never stop evolving, quickly but discretely: new modern materials will come across and we will do our best to couple them with the standards that we love so much. They can expect that we will always stick to our manufacturing philosophy, hence granting that whatever we offer is entirely made in Italy.
Apart from horse riding (I quit since several years but I consider horses the most beautiful animals on earth), I play golf and I ski, both on a regular basis. I do also love old motors, such as cars and motorbikes, though I’m not a collector: true style on these vehicles ended quite a long time ago, unfortunately. I invite youngsters to be simple and practical, as there’s no worse feeling than wearing uncomfortable things. Check the quality of the details: if these are good, you’ll have more chance that the garment itself is good. Dare: don’t stick to standards. Be yourself and, finally, try to avoid becoming a pure brand carrier.’
Pictures: © Luciano Barbera