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August 22 2014

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Neapolitan Born, Madison Avenue Bound

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It’s possible that Cesare Attolini, the prestigious Italian tailor, has a humbler balance sheet than some of the Madison Avenue restaurants it now calls neighbors. The third-generation outfit, which remains a small operation despite its outsize reputation, moved into a 2,500-square-foot storefront in March that is its only stand-alone retail space outside of Naples.

“It’s our first store that’s visible to the world,” said the company’s North American CEO, Enrico Libani, inside the sunlit, two-story Upper East Side space. Not that the whole planet is watching: Attolini speaks (and not through advertising) to a tiny group of connoisseurs who can afford its painstakingly handmade products. The effortlessly soft-tailored jackets for which it’s celebrated come from Italy, where it retains 150 tailors, and the company makes no more than 32 of them a day.

The fabrics are from Italy and, predominantly, the British Isles. At the truly plush end of the spectrum is a four-ply worsted cashmere; what Attolini brothers Giuseppe and Massimiliano are selling more of these days, though, are open-weave fabrics that bring an extra lightness and insouciance to the precision tailoring.

A sense of old-school purity is woven into the brand identity; this is that rare place where even trouser waistbands are stitched by hand. The clientele, too, exists a bit outside reality. According to Mr. Libani, the brand’s old Fifth Avenue atelier felt busier during the worst of the recession, if only because its customers were buying five-figure suits “as a distraction” from the carnage.

“Many people are selling a $5,000 jacket right now. We’re setting a new benchmark for quality, not price,” Mr. Libani said. He removed a $4,500 jacket—the least expensive in the store—to demonstrate. “I know it sounds crazy, but this is an incredible value.”

Cesare Attolini is now open at 798 Madison Ave., NYC, (646) 707-3006.

Photos: Courtesy of Cesare Attolini

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