A few weeks ago, I was provided with a linen jacket from Gagliardi in a beautiful light chambray blue. I would like to review it today, because it is a great summer color that I have been looking for a while.
Summer jackets are special because they should be lightweight and breezy while draping well and looking dapper you. In the US, most ready-to-wear jackets have a rather boxy cut and only rather expensive brands offer slim fit cuts that actually deserve this name. In regard to summer jackets, I have a broad range of fresco, tropical wool and blended blazers and jackets, but not a pure linen jacket. Personally, I rather enjoy linen’s wrinkly character because it lends the wearer some panache. Furthermore, it is usually not suited to the main stream market because most men would complain that it wrinkles too much. Not so for the connoisseur who appreciates the lumps in the weave and mottled color as something that’s as unique as himself.
Gagliardi is based in Malta and they have been making apparel under the family-owned Bortex group ever since 1964. In the early 1960s, founder Sunny Borg returned to Malta after he had worked for the merchant navy. With the little money he had left, he took a risk and invested in importing jeans to Malta. After he succeeded in this venture, he started Bortex (Borg Textiles) as a joint venture with the Dutch Van Gils group, specializing in men’s suits, jackets and trousers. Over the years, they expanded their portfolio, offered women’s clothing and accessories and grew their private label customer business with well-known customers from around the world. Today, Bortex is the preeminent tailor in Malta, employing over 1,000 employees and it is still owned by the Borg Family. Instead of continuing to only manufacture for other labels, they started Gagliardi a few seasons ago. The name for the label was based on the founder’s nick name Gagliardo and represents the family heritage.
Fabric & Color
My coat is tailored from 100% linen that Gagliardi describes as Royal blue. Personally, I would associate the color of ink with royal blue, whereas this jacket is more of a light powder blue achieved by weaving a white and light blue thread in a chambray style. Due to the natural inconsistency of linen yarns, it creates the effect of a mottled light blue. I find it especially pleasing for summer because it reflects the sunlight for the most part and definitely expresses the aesthetic of “summer”. Although anything but boring, it is a very classic color that I can wear 5 or ten years from now because blue will never go out of style! After having worn it for a number of times, it just shows a few wrinkles around the elbow area, but the remainder of the jacket looks like new even though it has a slightly more irregular texture and dimension than a worsted wool jacket. Of course, it is coarser than fine wool or cashmere, but it is definitely a finer, softer linen.
The partial 1/4 lining is made of 100% viscose and helps particularly in the shoulder and sleeve area, because truly unlined jackets usually catch on your shirt sleeves rendering an lumpy look. Some of the trimmings and undercollar are made of a flowery cotton fabric in pastel green, yellow, orange and Nantucket red.
Workmanship & Quality
Overall, the “Made in Malta” jacket seems to be well tailored. All seams are straight, the inside of the jacket is very neat with exposed hems being cleanly taped. The buttons are sewn on with a proper shank, facilitating the buttoning, and the machine-made buttonholes in the front are good. The jacket is all machine-sewn, including the collar and sleeves. Also, the pick stitching was performed with an AMF machine. Personally, I like the even more subtle lapel pick stitching when it is done by hand, but overall the machine work is very neat and looks considerably above average.
The jacket is fused and has a bit of soft horsehair interlining from the chest up. Overall, I think this helps to prevent wrinkles in the front of the garment and since it is soft, it does not feel uncomfortable. Of course, it would be nice to have it completely unlined because a sewn canvas will also add unnecessary bulk and weight to a linen jacket. But, at a price of €180 / $235 (including worldwide 3 day courier shipping) you simply can’t expect that.
I like the patch pockets in the front, one of which features a little cash pockets on the inside. I find these smaller spaces invaluable for keys, cell phones, or other little things because it looks better than if all these things gather at the bottom of your pocket. The buttons are made of resin, although mother of pearl buttons would have been nice with it. Again, at that price, you can’t ask for more. The sleeves are non-working, which makes sense for off the rack jackets because in most cases, you will have to adjust your sleeve length, and that’s way easier and less expensive than if you have working buttonholes. Stylistically, I do not like the keyhole buttonhole on the lapel as it is usually a hallmark of lower end jackets. Since it is not open, you can’t wear a boutonniere with it.
The elbows have white alcantara patches and although it is popular right now to have elbow patches on new jackets, I prefer to add them after years of wear. In any case, it lends the jacket a sporty look. The shoulders are very natural and feature only a tiny bit of padding. The lining choices are very nice with striped sleeves and interior pockets as well as solid light blue shoulders and chests. The jetted inside pocket trims are all made of the flowery fabric, which adds a nice touch of color and summer feeling. The double vents are cut nicely and don’t flap.
Fit & Sizing
Many American jackets are often advertised as slim but what you get is anything but that. Gagliardi’s slim fit sizes are very slim and a 44R fits closer to the body than a 42R Purple Label jacket from Ralph Lauren. So in regard to sizing, make sure to take a look at their sizing guide. The cut of the jacket is short and in line with current trends. Personally,I’d like it a little longer but they also offer long sizes so that’s not really a problem. The jacket fits really well in the waist and chest and I think most of you would be very pleased with the fit. The sleeves, are also cut rather slim and for my taste they could be a little wider to provide more ease of movement especially in the upper sleeve but a trim cut sleeve is very popular right now and something I have observed across the board.
Generally, I’d suggest you get the next size up (42R if you wear a 40R etc.) from your usual size and the long version if you like jackets with a traditional length (42L if you wear a 40R). You will likely have to shorten the sleeves but you should do that in any case to guarantee the correct sleeve length and since these are not surgeon cuffs, it is no problem to have it altered. Interestingly, they also offer short versions which is rare nowadays. Considering that you can get sizes from 38 – 46 in Regular, Short and Long, I think that short, slim men will really like this linen jacket because there is not much available for them otherwise. If you have a regular built you will also be happy but as a stout person, you will probably want to get one of their other jackets because this blazer is slim.
Alternatives include L.B.M. 1911 but with prices more than 3 times as high, it is a completely different jacket. In terms of construction, Gagliardi is a just a tiny bit more structured and not as super soft as L.B.M. In terms of cut and silhouette, Gagliardi seems just as nice. Also, they have a whole range of summer jackets starting at €130 / $ 170 here.
For the price of €180 / $235 you receive a jacket on a wide plastic hanger in garment bag shipped to your door within three days wherever you may live.. Personally, I think the quality and look is hard to beat at this price point. Overall, I would call this Gagliardi linen jacket an exceptional value, especially compared to brands like L.B.M which cost almost twice as much, even on sale. Now you may wonder how it is possible that their jackets are so much less expensive and I think it is for three reasons:
- They are the manufacturer in Malta where labor costs are very low
- There is no middle man
- Economies of scale: they have 2,000 employees and have fabrics made just for them so they get them rather inexpensively
Where to Buy
Is it a perfect linen jacket? Nothing ever is, when off the rack, but overall Gagliardi has produced a garment that looks great and provides fantastic value. With a few improvements, such as completely unlined construction, a working flat lapel buttonhole, mother of pearl buttons and a slight roomier upper sleeve, it would be even better. Nevertheless, at this price I’d say it is an absolute no-brainer if you are in the market for a linen summer blazer.