They define themselves as “high class couture to dress contemporary men”. In addition, they have got both the numbers and the charm as well. Sartoria Saint Andrews Milano Spa – with a manufacturing unit in Fano, Marche’s region, and a showroom in Milano, on the via Bagutta, in the heart of the high fashion district – is based on nearly fifty year’s of history built on quality raw materials and hand-made garments. Founded in 1968, in April 2006 it became a part of the Trabaldo Togna Group based in the Biella area. At the same time, they started to show their garments on the international market with their own label Santandrea.
Pierluigi Canevelli, CEO of the company and chairman of the board of the Biella district based woolen mill, shows the friendly attitude of those who chose to live there as a life project. He breathes the atmosphere; he knows it like its pockets, sewn by hand, stitch by stitch, by a skillful tailor who committed time to that creation. He is the one who takes us on the factory floor. From order management to the check of supplies, in the kingdom of “all hand-made”: chalk to draw fine lines on fabric in the pattern making section, cutting, pressing at all stages of the process, finishing. Respectfully zigzagging among workers, busy on their tables and machines he remarks: «Our product is in their hands, we owe them a lot».
«Sartoria Saint Andrews – Pierluigi Canevelli adds – was established in Fano in the ’60s by the will of a Milanese entrepreneur who used to trade fabrics from England (even back then already an international reference in terms of elegance) bent on clothing manufacturing. The story goes that an assistant of his came to Fano on holiday and found there favourable conditions to establish a business, that is land at a reasonable price to build a factory. We have been working here for nearly 50 years. After the takeover in 2006 our management sticks to the original intent: we make menswear in a production scale, like in an artisan’s workshop. Highly skilled labour, creativity, knowhow, financial strength, proper administration, social awareness are our values. In addition, I dare say, that in doing this we are among few companies that express the genuine Made in Italy. We combine the flexibility of an artisan’s workshop, that is the capacity to realize bespoke garments entirely by hand with the needs of modern times. Ours is a suit traditionally made, serving contemporary lines and shapes. An exclusive product because it is hand made, applying old rules and paying great attention to the quality of fabrics and trimmings as well. It means we work according to tradition, yet with modern shapes and lines to give our customer a comfortable, trendy product. Suits that dress a young cosmopolitan man in his thirties but also a successful professional in his sixties. Unique garments, customized, with their own lining, buttons, on inner and outer pockets. Featuring high quality fabrics, carefully selected from top domestic and international woollen factories».
CARING FOR THE PRODUCT
«To make a jacket it takes us approximately 25 hours», the manager states. «Once you wear a garment you immediately feel the quality, as comfort is essential. We have 180 tailors out of 200 in our staff. We are constantly engaged to train our staff and have organised our own factory school for tailors. A few months training help us select the best subjects to hire. We pay a great attention to the territory we work in and from which we take our skilled labour. This is very important. The work of the artisan tailors is divided into various areas of specialization and is constantly monitored in order to guarantee that the quality is of the highest, and that the products meet the exacting standards demanded. Creating a bespoke suit is not just a matter of taking measurements. It takes a cutter-tailor with all his experience and his eye for proportions. The tailor draws the various parts of the suit freehand, using a piece of tailor’s chalk and the paper pattern made to measure for every client. The tailor cuts the fabric with big steel scissors, following the chalk lines with millimetric precision, not even the slightest error is allowed. We sew the garment together only after several trials and fittings. Then every part is finished off by and with thousands of stitches and the tinier and more precise the finer the quality. In our opinion, elegance is a suit drawn, cut and made to be unique in its shape to set off the natural elegance of a man’s demeanour. Elegance from the Latin word elegantia derives from the verb eligere, meaning to “choose well”».
«Last year Sartoria Saint Andrews made nearly 13,000 garments mainly working through three channels», the CEO points out. «Above all, a major percentage of our turnover derives from some important Italian and international luxury maisons. Beside our own label Santandrea, sold in specialty stores. Finally, considering the successful result, we are also working hard on “bespoke, made to measure garments”. Some tailors of ours can reach our most demanding clients everywhere at any time to make a really made to measure garment. They reach the client within max. 24 hours offering fabrics, lining, patterns. They come back to make the garment which is then tried on once or twice. We offer this exclusive service to our most sophisticated clients. It is an excellent service that allows us to dress heads of State and movies stars, who would never enter a shop to buy a garment, requiring a special care. It is an important development to our business, certainly a niche product and a service “at home”. It brought us a total turnover of 14 million euro in 2014, 35% of which form “made to measure garments”. The domestic market is not the top market of our product. Over 70% of our turnover is generated out of the European Union, mainly in USA and Canada, as well as in China, the former Soviet Union area, Japan, Hong Kong, the Far East».
While nodding to the staff to organise shipments to the other end of the world, Pierluigi Canevelli finally adds, «Our archives include a fifty year heritage, a huge number of pattern, for which the best fabrics are cut. First those made by the woolen factory Trabaldo Togna, where we obviously play on our turf. This fact gives us the opportunity to carry out research projects together. Just to give an example, we developed a quite innovative project to make a naturally elastic material, in different variants from Super 180/150 to cashmere. Elasticity starts form the yarn to reach the fabric finishing process, thus ensuring a perfect fit and comfort of garments. Further, after 50 years working for the high end market the relationship of Saint Andrews to all its suppliers is time-tested and unique, so much as to get some fabrics made exclusively for us by top Italian woolen factories in the Biella area, as well as from England and France. These are important companies, which can invest a lot of money in R&D. There we source fabrics twice a year for our summer and winter collection, selecting refined fabrics of top quality and extremely lightweight, like the best cashmere and vicuña cloths. These exclusive materials are the base of our patterns inspired from the present time. In fact, evolution in apparel goes hand in hand with evolving habits in modern society. Today a demanding man wants to look dynamic, efficient; however, his suit is no longer a “formal body armour”. He will wear it even in his free time. It means that, e.g. jackets are much lighter to replace knitwear. The length of suits and lapels has been revised as well as the fitting. Our research consists in trying to understand how to update, on every collection, those patterns that meet the general trend of this industry. As the art historian Arturo Carlo Quintavalle reminds us, in addition to being a productive enterprise, a tailoring company in also an interpreter of its age».