Imagine a boy with a simulatneously innocent and mischevious smirk upon his face that is somewhere between Dennis The Menace and Kevin McAllister. Now, imagine said boy running through rows upon rows of fabric bolts somewhere off in Italy. For men’s clothing enthusiasts like myself that sounds like some sort of dream sequence. But for Max Girombelli that was childhood.
Fast forward a few decades. Now imagine a man who sits upon a 15th story balcony on a sunny day in Midtown Manhattan with a cigar in one hand and a beer in the other. Technically this man is at work, but for him it seems like it is just play that he happens to garner an income from. For most men this sounds like a dream sequence. But for Max Girombelli this is his career, his passion, his life.
I had the good fortune of living the life of Max Girombelli for a few short hours last fall. It didn’t seem like a bad way to go about things.
So, who is Max Girombelli? On one hand he is a reference for a man living the good life. He loves windowpane and three piece suits (as do I). He is an avid collector (as am I). He seems to focus on masculine items like knives, lighters, vintage luggage and of course suits. But of more relevance, he is also the proprietor of Duca Sartoria, a self-proclaimed bespoke suit atelier in midtown Manhattan. Max boasts that his family has been in fashion for over 50 years. However, his family exited that world by selling their companies in the 90’s. Soon thereafter Max decided his path would be to go back to the roots of modern men’s fashion and dress: suits.
While still in Italy he started a company similar to Duca Sartoria, he differentiated himself from his more traditional peers by traveling to his clients. Which is something that Max said was unheard of in Italy. But he felt there was something else out there. A more adventurous adventure.
Max moved to America 15 years ago and has since become an American citizen. ‘Proudly American’ he says with conviction. But I feel that he is equally proud of his Italian heritage, as he should be; on some of his clothing he has the button holes made in the colors of the Italian flag. His suits and shirts are also completely made in Italy.
“One client at a time” is how Duca Sartoria grows. For Max it has to be that way, a personal connection between customer and clothier (I say clothier because he does not do any of the cutting, tailoring or patternmaking himself) is essential for the success of the relationship and for the end product. Max points out that he has two types of clients. People who are very knowledgeable and who know what they want. And then clients who have no clue, they say “Max, I rely on you.”
And speaking of Max’s clients. They are mostly in New York City. However, he travels to Dubai a few times a year as well as Washington DC and Miami. He made sure to note that Miami is different than his other 3 cities. Men do not take their suits as serious down there (having been there since I met Max I can attest to this). “The Caribbean under the American flag,” he noted in his elegant Italian accent.
And the suits, after all this is a blog on men’s style, they are very nice (for starting at $3,000 they should be). Over the span of 4-6 weeks there are usually 2-3 fittings. At the first fitting clients are measured and try on a series of test jackets (similar to the process at MyTailor). At subsequent fittings necessary alterations are made. From what I have seen from the four people who I have met wearing Duca Sartoria suits Max knows how to fit a suit. He is also able to accommodate whatever unique requests the wearer may have.
So those men who enter into Max’s atelier and say “Max, I rely on you,” who may or may not be smoking a cigar, who may or may not be sipping a beer and who are looking over midtown Manhattan where countless men in ill fitting suits scurry around will know that even on their worst days scurrying around the city their suits will at least be some of the best.
Note: FYGblog did not receive any type of material compensation from Duca Sartoria or any associated entity in the production of this post.
Bellissimo! Viva Italia!
As a former employee, I wanted to wish you a fabulous 2015! Now almost 18 years have gone by who would believe it! I am also still working in the fashion industry at Nordstrom…I hope your entire family is well.The best, Ann