On a recent trip to Milan, I did what I always like to do in cities – I wondered off the beaten path, enjoyed the architecture, little street cafés and interesting local stores that are not part of any travel guides.
Sartoria Borrello R. Nocito
During my journey, I stumbled upon an old school Sartoria. As you can see in the picture, the storefront suggested just that – nothing more, and nothing less. The photo could have been taken in 1970’s or early 1980’s, as nearly everything has remained unchanged ever since.
When I walked inside the Sartoria, I was greeted in Italian by Mr. Nocito himself. Although I told him that I do not speak Italian, he continued to explain to me in Italian and I managed to glean a little bit about what he does, and that he tailors suits together with his wife.
Blue Fresco Coat
The jacket he had in his window was a blue fresco coat for a customer that had copious amounts of handwork. Overall, the style was rather Milanese –sophisticated, but not overly exaggerated. Single breasted with 3 buttons, notched lapels of about 8 or 9 cm in width, classic gorge, shoulders with a slight rulino, but no spalla camica. Interestingly, the hand sewn collar was made of two pieces! The sleeves were fuller in the upper arm and more tapered towards the cuff. The chest pocket was curved like a barchetta (the Italian word for “little boat”), and it had very neat pick stitching. Surprisingly, he used lots of white basting thread, and I think this coat was prepared for the second fitting.
Donegal Tweed Coat
Next, he showed me his very own Donegal tweed overcoat with his working, handmade keyhole buttonholes, and the classic striped sleeve lining. Just like the other garments, everything was sewn by hand in the middle of Milan.
Afterwards he presented me his tessuti (fabric) which were mostly English and Italian – all in classic patterns with solid weights, although he also had a few summer fabrics. Some of the stripes reminded me of the Reid & Taylor cloth patterns from the late 1960’s. I really liked the old fashioned ads on his shelves, which made it seem like I was in a time capsule.
When I explained to him that I was from the US, he told me that he was not interested in publicity and that all his customers are acquire only by the word of mouth. As such, Mr. Nocito was a little hesitant to show me his small workshop but when I asked, he proudly showed me the way. Inside, I met his wife, who was just working on a side seam, but otherwise you could tell it was a true Sartoria in which things were all made in house. All of a sudden, he grabbed one of the coats that was almost finished and ripped the basting thread on the jetted pockets. He wanted to show me the flaps inside, that were really invisible from the outside. Now, hidden flaps are not a novelty to bespoke tailoring, though his were very nice indeed.
If I spoke Italian and had a bit more time, I would have liked to order one of his suits, but due to my hectic schedule and the language barrier this was out of question, and so I moved on.
Overall, I found this to be a very pleasant surprise since I have never heard of him before, and even the Milanese bespoke aficionados I met did not know of him. Also, it was a true Sartoria that has neither a website nor an email address. This little store makes up for it with lots of charm and what seemed to be true bespoke garments. His house style seemed very classic, without exaggerations. Almost all the coats there were single breasted with 3 buttons. I do not know to what extent Nocito is willing and able to deviate from the house style, though you can find out for yourself the next time you are in Milan.Sartoria – Borrello R. Nocito
Via Nino Bixio,2
Two Piece Suits start at 1500 € plus cloth