Who are you, what do you do and how old are you?
Gabriele Corvino, tailor/cutter and I'm 30 years old.
Why are you a tailor today? Was the decision yours? Do you have a specialization in particular?
I grew up in this business. My great-grandfather was a tailor and had a tailor shop in Paris. My grandmother and her sister were haute couture seamstresses and had their own tailor shop in the same location that I work at now in Rome and my mother is also in the fashion industry.
It was my decision to become a tailor. I fell in love with this craft when I was younger; having grown up between fabrics and scissors, certainly influenced me, but I must say that my parents have always left me free to think for myself. I think it was an involuntary call to be a tailor. I approached it out of necessity since I never found anything that fit me and I always had to go to the tailor to get things fixed. Then around 17-18 I realized that this could be my way.
How do you see tailoring evolving in the next five, ten or twenty years?
I must say that tailoring has changed a lot in recent years, there is much more attention on our industry, certainly thanks to social networks and more and more young people are approaching this profession and this does nothing but good for our sector.
If we think of the middle generation, that of the 40/50 year-olds, there are not so many tailors. We have a big generational gap between the old 80-year-old tailors and the new 20-year-old tailors and this is certainly positive. As for the market, however, I must say that we are drifting away from the point of view of craftsmanship. Customers no longer want to wait 1-2 months for a suit, they want to receive it within 2 weeks maximum and do not want to do more than 1 fitting which in bespoke is practically impossible.
Surely, there will be an expansion of MTM globally and many tailors will integrate this kind of product into their business so as to not miss important market shares and will continue to make bespoke only for true lovers of bespoke.
Can you describe what a perfect tailor shop would be like for you?
"Perfect" I don’t think exists. Surely, it would be nice not to have to compromise on quality, starting from the fabrics all the way to the finishing. Now there are machines that do everything so it would be nice if everything was handmade as tradition dictates.
Which part of your work gives you the most satisfaction and why?
Since the time of the Academy the thing I like most to do is putting on the facings but I don’t know why exactly. Perhaps because once the facings are on the jacket begins to take on a more concrete look and you start to see the result.
I believe I get the most satisfaction when the jacket is finished, especially when you have a patterned fabric, everything is in it's place, the checks match up on the sides, the sleeves, and the pockets...That's probably what is most satisfying.
Are there people who think about a career in the tailoring industry?
Surely yes, many guys are already in the industry and are putting up their own tailor shops. It’s a beautiful thing; there’s a market for everyone, and it’s inspiring to see the work of other tailors who work well.
Did you make sacrifices? What types?
There is absolutely no achievement of a goal without commitment, sacrifice and a dose of luck. Anyone who has their own tailor shop knows about the all-nighters, the constant worries and the holidays not enjoyed for years. I think it’s part of the game, and I’m not complaining.
What are the most difficult stages of making a suit and why? Which is the most difficult garment to make in a man’s wardrobe?
The collar and sleeves are perhaps the most difficult, but the others are not less difficult. Even a thread can become difficult if you don’t have the right method. I personally have thrown away many jackets and yards of fabric in order to learn the best way to do something. Even now there are still things I try to improve.
I think the most difficult item to make is the morning coat, not so much for the making as for the cut.
Do you have any advice for today’s apprentices? Advice for those who teach apprentices? Do you have any advice for customers or new tailoring clients?
Usually, to the guys who come into my tailor shop for the first time I say not to run too much. I know that when you start you want to immediately switch to the jacket, mount the sleeves, and put on the facings but if you can’t hold the needle right, you definitely can’t mount a pair of sleeves.
I spent a year making pockets of all kinds on scraps of fabric from the morning at the academy to the evening at home and I know how boring it is, but this is preparatory to the end.
To the customers of tailoring I could not say anything because usually it is they who bring something new to us tailors.
To the new customers instead I would say that they should trust the advice of the tailor. Often you make bad choices for the first clothes you have made if you don't due to lack of experience. The construction of a good wardrobe is essential.
Can it be difficult to work with tailors?
Unfortunately, it often happens that the tailors or the cutters never want you to see how to do or how to cut a something. It’s a matter of mentality. Before, it was always done this way, the cutters usually cut in another room just to not show the workers how it is done. I think it’s stupid and personally I’ve always tried to convey everything I’ve learned over the years.
How did you learn how to cut?
I had a great teacher who taught me the basics of cutting in the academy. Then over the years this system has changed, and continues to change according to customers, or in talking with other tailors, or to personal applications to improve the quality and fit of the suit.
I don’t think that a system necessarily has to stay the way it is because times are changing, tastes are changing and customer needs are changing. If you want to continue working, you have to take this into account.
On which aspects of work do you want to improve in particular? On cut, make?
All these things are fundamental. There is always something to improve. Personally, I have been questioning everything lately, I have started from scratch, starting with the taking of the measurements. Taking a few extra measurements helps a lot with cutting and the first fitting.
What are the tailors you admire today?
I admire many tailors, both for style and for technical skills. I admire above all Gaetano Aloisio and Lorenzo Cifonelli. I think they have an unparalleled technical competence even if their style isn't for me. Style is subjective
I also follow the trend of Korean tailors. I think they are really good in the finishing and they do a lot of stylistic research. What they're making seems like Italy in the 30s, 40s, and 50s for elegance. A great Korean tailor is Chad Park of Bntailor.
What makes a real tailor? When did you feel like a real tailor and why?
I wouldn’t know. As Ciro Palermo, a great Neapolitan tailor said, "a tailor can be defined as finished when he knows how to cut everything and knows how to make everything."
Why will tailors talk deeply about tailoring with journalists but not necessarily with their own apprentices?
I think because tailors, as they say, "are women first," they love to show their skills and their abilities to others.
How can we improve the tailoring community?
It would take less envy, I personally believe there is room for everyone in this world, if you work well and you have your own style.