Kiton: Bastion of Italian Sartorial Integrity
We have no secrets here,” says Kiton’s CEO, Antonio De Matteis, the energetic nephew of company founder, Ciro Paone, as we enter the firm’s hallowed tailoring workshop in Arzano, an outlying suburb of Naples. “If you can translate what you see on the floor, you translate the meaning of Kiton.” The “floor” in question — a voluminous atelier filled dramatically with billowing steam from 15-pound irons, swathes of luxurious fabric, and 350 tailors fastidiously hand-cutting, handstitching and seaming the male equivalent of haute couture — is indeed the very soul of Kiton, a global bastion of a centuries-old Neapolitan tailoring culture and epitome of Italian sartorial integrity.
I was always convinced we could offer tailored garments of high quality, in fabrics made by hand, with a choice of models even more refined than those turned out by tailors’ workshops.
This atelier with its august tailors, whose ranks are supplemented every two years via Kiton’s in-house craftsmanship school, is the realisation of a vision that Ciro Paone, a fifth-generation fabric merchant from Naples, had in 1952. “The idea of bringing together a group of masters of Neapolitan tailoring flashed into my mind when I was 19,” said Paone. “I was always convinced we could offer tailored garments of high quality, in fabrics made by hand, with a choice of models even more refined than those turned out by the tailors’ workshops. But everything would have to be produced with a respect for the quality of life, which my garments were meant to mirror. My tailors would not work stooping over a suit in dim light until late at night, as happened in the workshops.”
Four years later, and with a staff of 40 master tailors, Paone, alongside Antonio Carola, his then business manager (the pair parted ways in 1998), created Kiton, taking the name for their enterprise from ‘chiton’, the tunic worn by the ancient Greek nobility. Embracing a company motto of “Il meglio del meglio più uno” (the best of the best plus one), Kiton’s tailors began a chapter of modern sartorial art that would endure for over 40 years into the present, exporting the dexterity and creativity of Neapolitan tailoring to every continent and corner of the world.
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