In the past, our series Gentlemen of Style was mostly focused on style icons from the past with the occasional modern-day person. While that is great and we will continue to do so, we wanted to add a different format to the mix and offer interviews.
Today, it is my great pleasure to introduce to you an interview with Gentleman of Style Fabio Attanasio from Italy. He started the website The Bespoke Dudes a few years ago and has come a long way including the launch of an eyewear line made in Italy. In this interview you will learn a lot about Fabio’s philosophy of style, what he does and does not wear, what he reads and he will provide a lot of inspiration that you can use in your daily life to create a different look.
Raphael: Alright, we’re alive! Fabio, thank you very much for joining us to our very first installment of interviews with Gentlemen of Style. How are you today?
Fabio: I’m very good. Thank you very much for the invitation, Raphael. I’m here in Milan, and I’m all yours. I mean, I’m waiting for your questions and look forward to replying to your questions.
Raphael: Great! At what age did you get into men’s clothing and when did you develop an interest in men’s clothing?
Fabio: I’m 28 now. When I’m asked this question when they ask me this question, I can never find an exact time when I started feeling interested in this industry but I’m sure that maybe my father. My memories of him were, he was in his 40s or 50s. He was always wearing a suit. Early morning until night when he used to come home from work. He was always wearing the tie, a suit even though he was not passionate about bespoke tailoring. He was very careful with about these.I remember going to high school, I loved matching normal things nothing like going to the tailor at 15 but I was interested in clothing and I developed the passion when I moved to Milan, In Napoli, of course, you can get in touch with a lot of artisans. For example, you have friends who go to tailors maybe you find new craftsmen. So when I was 18 or 19 I really started feeling being interested in this kind of industry. That’s what happened with my blog when I started it.
Raphael: If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, real or imaginary, who would it be and why?
Fabio: For sure, I have several, I have many. For sure, Marcello Mastroianni but also Vittorio De Sica, Toto the famous comic actor from Napoli because they are my idols. I get a lot of inspiration from them through their movies. They are my concept of a gentleman. I think at least from what I read about them, not only were they elegant with what they are wearing but also their thoughts, their way of live, their way of living. You know a lot of people who speak about elegance who are not elegant at all, just because they wear bespoke suit, they feel like gentlemen, this is the complete opposite of what I think about elegant.
Raphael: Yes, I totally agree with that. It’s much more than just clothing; it’s a lifestyle, a mindset. Okay, recently I saw you brought a new video about your sunglass line that was very much inspired by I would say, larger luxury brands, nice imagery, nice cinematography
and you had a vintage car and so my question was, is this you? Or what kind of car would you say embodies your personality best?
Fabio: That was an Alpha Romeo. Alpha Romeo is a typical as you know, Italian brand of cars. Not only is Italian but was also founded by a Neapolitan engineer. I actually own an Alpha Romeo, I do not own that one, that particular car in the video. But that one, in particular, is very coherent with my concept and what I believe in. It is made by an artisan by mixing a lot of wheels and gears and steering wheel from different vintage cars, so you get something from Jaguar, for example, other things from Porsche. It was fantastic, it’s like a bespoke suit. You customize your car as if it was a jacket, and the video is very much coherent with my the image of my target of what I would like to be.Like gentlemen all over the world who appreciate quality in finer things, quality over quantity. Exclusive things which doesn’t mean, necessarily expensive things.
Raphael: Now you started your own bespoke dudes eyewear line, how was this experience? Was it easier than you would have expected, was it more difficult, more time consuming? How was it?
Will you do it again or will you do more of it or do you say – Oh man that was so difficult, I’m done now?
Fabio: It was very time consuming in the beginning because of the Italian bureaucracy most of all. Being an entrepreneur in Italy is very difficult, it’s like the country pushes us away from being an entrepreneur, you know.
There’s a lot of bureaucracy, taxes and things you got to do before, but we went through it and founded with another business partner, this small company, I registered my trademark, bespoke Dudes and I licensed my brand to my company and these were the most difficult
things in the beginning but as for now, we are experiencing better results than expected because we sold out all the stock in less than one month and we sold glasses from New York to Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul and even Dubai, Mosco and big European cities.
Raphael: That’s fantastic!
Fabio: This was proof that the blog was read by people who believe in what they are reading. The least thing I would like to do is betray my readers.
Raphael: I understand. It’s all about the reader, and you have the trust, you stand for something, and we stand for quality. It’s our thing; that’s what we stand for and you are more for made in Italy, it’s important for you, so you want to be true to yourself.
Fabio: yes, Exactly. That’s the right word. So now we’re sold out, and we even gave our customers the chance to pre-order newer models and we never expected to sell out some models even before they were produced. We didn’t expect so many preorders from all over the world. People paying now not knowing they will receive their glasses in a month or so. That was wonderful.
Raphael: So, one thing that I always found intriguing was the site was called the Bespoke dudes and it is still called the bespoke dudes but when I look at your website or the Facebook or Instagram, it’s like 90% Fabio, don’t get me wrong, you have great style, it’s very inspiring but I thought, did you start with a different idea and just changed into this or did you always want more people and they just left and you were stuck on your own? What was the vision when you created the bespoke dudes?
Fabio: The Bespoke Dudes, the name of the bespoke dudes is due to the fact that I wanted to create a website like virtual community for dudes all around the world who share the same passion that I have for unique, quality products. That’s why I named it Bespoke Dudes.Of course, now I’m busier, maybe I stopped some interviews but it’s not something I do because I want to look like a peacock. I still love, and I have in the pipeline a lot of new interviews which is something I’m working on and they are dudes who I talk about, bespoke dudes are all about the Artisans, the people who, entrepreneurs who start making new tailoring business. Those are the dudes or the gentlemen I want to talk about. I want to share their stories to my website and my readers. It’s always about a virtual community to share stories because the real mission of the bespoke dudes is to tell stories. Beautiful stories of people to inspire the people and it is something in my little company, my blog. I did and succeeded because I have met a lot of people. When I started, I decided to approach this industry when I started reading their blog. I decided to leave my job and started shirt making in their company because he gave me the strength.He’s now the made-to-measure manager of Isaia and he told me “I was promoted, I got my promotion, I started feeling this passion for menswear in general when I started reading your blog” This is the best satisfaction you could find. You know because you are able to transmit something, broadcast, deliver passion.
Raphael: You just inspire others to do something. You help others to find really what makes them happy and you know inspires them to do great things and maybe even help them change their life in a way. You never thought about it that way but, it is just very gratifying to see. Okay, so now we talked a lot about work and what you do.What does Fabio do when he doesn’t work?
Raphael: Who or what inspires your style at the moment?
Fabio: At the moment, I am very inspired by, I always say the same person. Valentino Ricci and his brother Nicola from Sciamat. I really appreciate what they did for bespoke tailoring because they were first to maybe completely renovate the image of the suit by completely removing every kind of lining or canvas. Now I’ve never appreciated that kind of shoulder because it’s too puffy and exaggerated. I believe in balance. I believe what Mariano Rubinacci always said because Something I would like to stress, also my job helped me to develop my style. I had the chance to interview very stylish people like Mariano Rubinacci, Valentino Ricci. Nino Cerruti. The man behind the biggest Hollywood movies. He was the one who dressed Richard Gere in pretty woman, the one who dressed a lot of famous actors from Hollywood movies. Interview with these people gave me a chance to really to work. Spiritually speaking, you have to learn a lot because when you do this kind of job, you have the chance to grow a lot just by interviewing. Doing your own job, you have the chance to grow. If you interview the right people. In our job, you do every day the same thing, so people I appreciate style for sure Valentino Ricci. There are a lot maybe also, I don’t have icons you know, for me, having an icon means I want to be like him instead, this is something like the opposite of style. I mean elegance is developing in your own way, your own style.
Raphael: Pick something from here, pick something from there and make it your own.
Fabio: Exactly. So maybe appreciate the classic elegance of Giampaolo Letta, appreciate the taste and soft lines of Sciamat so a lot of people. Now they don’t come to mind, there are a lot.
Raphael: That’s okay. it’s just that I wanted to know right now because it changes and you know what inspires you today may not inspire you two years from now because you slightly changed but that’s just a question so, I often see you wearing a lot of navy jackets or blazers. Hopsack is very popular especially in Napoli, I noticed and I was curious as to how many jackets do you have in your closet? in different shades of navy or what are the patterns?what are the colors?blazers. Hopsack is very popular especially in Napoli, I noticed and I was curious as to how many jackets do you have in your closet? in different shades of navy or what are the patterns?what are the colors?
Fabio: I built my wardrobe very strange way because instead of doing it the proper way as it should be like starting from navy and then the grey and then add a bit of color. The strange thing is that the very first bespoke suit that i had made in Napoli was actually a green Solaro. My very first bespoke suit from Santeria Parmosa in napoli that’s why I find myself with a lot of jackets and sporty blazers and very few formal suits because at that time I didn’t feel the need to wear formal suits. I already felt formal with the Jacket and sporty blazer and a pair of grey trousers. Now, I’m starting to feel the need of wearing formal suits and now in fact I’m doing the opposite way, you know, now I’m starting to have my suits made by tailors like I had a mohair suit so a lot of formal suits a lot of three piece suits because I love how the three piece, I hate the trend now of odd vests. A lot of people now are wearing these odd vests, double breasted vests, unmatched not from a formal three piece. This is something good, maybe a trend from suit supply, which i okay of course they are great at what they’re doing but I hate trends so.
Raphael: So, one thing I noticed in all your pictures is that you like to wear your ties quite long and there is no right length or wrong length in terms of ties historically. Usually, they were like a little shorter right? but they were never super long and what of my pet peeves is ties that are super long that are kind of you know, come out from underneath the jacket with the v shape at the bottom, they point a part that is not ideal. I want people to look at my face, not down my crotch. You seem to have a different philosophy about tie length so just tell us about that.
Fabio: You know, maybe I understood the photo you mean from last summer Pitti. I had a very long tie and I don’t like it anymore. Every time I look at that photo I say “Come on, How could I wear that tie” but this is also part of my way of approaching this industry. you lose that sprezzatura, that spontaneity, that easiness, that approach which is very light. you always have to have a balance between the rules and the fantasy. What you have to wear and what you could wear. This is a good definition of style, otherwise everyone can wear anything. Style is more about finding the right balance between what you can do and what you have to do. So in that case, last Pitti, I don’t like it I had it and I put it on, now after a year looking back at those pictures.
Raphael: that’s totally fine. It’s all about, I mean, if we would all dress the same way, we would kind of prevent ourselves from getting to a higher style level. It’s only by experimenting that you will eventually find things that are really great and are your style and you never try anything daring, you will maybe not make a mistake but you will also look boring. So it’s important for men to experiment and try new things because it’s the only way to get better.
Fabio:Absolutely, I totally agree with you.
Raphael: let’s do questions that are quicker and easier to answer. So, Oxford or derby shoe?
Fabio: it depends on the occasion. Maybe derbys can be perceived as a little bit more casual. it depends also on the shape of your foot.
Raphael: Well if your foot is a little bigger, derby is easier than the oxford but how about you? Do you have more oxfords? do you have more derbys?
Fabio: I have actually maybe the same number of Oxford and Derbys. Maybe more oxfords just one or two pairs. But it depends. The difference between the Oxford and derby is not the turning point of my purchase. the turning point is the shape, the color and the material.
Raphael: For Fabrics, Flannel or worsted?
Fabio: I love flannel. It’s something that I really am fond of.
Raphael: It’s different I also like it very much.
Fabio: I love them, i don’t know why maybe because I remember my father on the sunday and some weekends wearing a jacket or blazer in flannel fabric. So it’s always something very masculine and stable.
Fabio: I love neck ties of course. I very seldom wear bow ties. I normally wear them in tuxedos. As soon as you wear a bow tie, it immediately looks like you want to be seen, or draw the attention to you. It’s not something I like. that’s why I love wearing plain colors now. at least now. Maybe in two years I will wear yellow pants.
Raphael: So the next question would be, belt or suspenders?
Fabio: i like suspenders. i hate wearing belts with suits. I always have my belt loops removed by the tailors. I ask the waistband to be a little bit higher, sometimes make a 7cm waistband like it was a cummerband. I definitely prefer suspenders and mostly silk suspenders.
Raphael: Do you feel it’s more comfortable? Do you feel it looks better?
Fabio: I don’t know. Maybe I prefer the feeling of the fabric. I believe in the importance of detaching also in menswear design.
Raphael: Do you prefer french cuff or a barrel cuff with buttons?
Fabio: the second one. I never wear double cuffs like that. I usually wear the bottom of my sleeve very small like 15 cm to 12 and a half.
Raphael: Do you wear undershirt or no undershirt?
Fabio: Absolutely not. Even though I know that a lot of people do, I never wear undershirts. I don’t know, I feel quite old when I wear it. It looks like i’m afraid to get a cold or a flu. It’s something i don’t like that much.
Raphael: I understand, I don’t wear them either. It’s just interesting for people to see
Fabio: even worse, the undershirt for a shirt without tie, the undershirt , you can see through.
Raphael: So if there was one style mistake that men commit over and over again, what would that be? like if men would change that, the world will be a better place?
Fabio: I actually written 2 articles for GQ Italy and they asked me to find 15 errors men usually do. There’s a long list, actually maybe the first one, now it comes to mind, for sure the loose knot of the tie. When you wear a tie like this, the space between the shirt collar and the knot. Well, white socks…
Raphael: Yeah, I know what you mean. They go to your blog, they like what you do and is there something you would point them and say hey, they really know what they’re talking about, great content, great pictures or it doesn’t even have to be close or it could be anything.
Fabio: For example, I like reading the blog of Simon Crompton, I like reading your blog. it’s very informative not because I’m talking to you. I always say that I appreciate this kind of approach in menswear. I don’t follow a man just because he’s beautiful. I follow a man because it gives me something that I don’t have information about something. Like the history of the lUlster overcoat for example. I t was very interesting. It is something we need today. Communication about these matters, these topics. because the publications about men’s elegance are too few in my opinion. That’s why i’m publishing an ebook which is just a collection of articles I’ve written the last three years and it’s something that’s only going to be in English, this is something I would do, following your path.
Raphael: Great! Ebooks are great. We’re working on stuff. Everybody trying to create really helpful resources, bundling them. It’s a lot of work but it pays for the reader because then you have everything in one place, it’s easy to digest. there’s a structure from start to finish. Sometimes if you write articles, you know they’re scattered all over the place and I think a book really helps to put it all together so it makes sense.
Raphael: So, you know like obviously what drives you is your passion and interest and that’s fantastic but how or where do you see yourself in five years and do you have a plan for that or just take it day by day?
Fabio: I never plan things so far in the future. I never even don’t know if the brand will grow bigger but for sure, I wish to develop the brand, I want to continue updating the blog which is my key, I will always want o meet a few new tailors. I would love to be the Italian guy who brings abroad the bespoke tailoring industry. The ambassador of bespoke tailoring, that’s what I love to do. That’s why I’m very happy when they offered me to go to conference in Stockholm or in Madrid or Istanbul. It’s always a chance to spread the word about these guys, these tailors and make people aware of the industry.
Raphael: This was really insightful. I’m sure the readers will understand your style and also transform some of that to their own style. So thank you very much Fabio for being with us, I appreciate it immensely. And yeah, if you have new projects coming up, eBooks, let me know I’m happy to kind of help you and introduce our readers to what you’re doing.
Fabio: thank you very much, that’s very nice of you.