It is often said that the world’s men’s suiting Mecca is London’s Savile Row. It’s true that The Golden Mile is incredibly important to menswear history and is still relevant in the products it produces today, but London doesn’t have a monopoly on the best things menswear has to offer.
To fully do justice to the world of men’s tailored clothing, we must also look eastward from London towards Italy.
There are many wonderful tailoring houses for men there, and Canali is a standout among them for all the right reasons.
History Of Canali
Above we see illustrations of the Canali aesthetic over the last 83 years.
Canali was founded in 1934 by Giacomo and Giovanni Canali and is run as a family business to this day. Dealing strictly in men’s clothing, it is one of the premier names in luxury Italian menswear.
Even those who aren’t connoisseurs of menswear are likely familiar with the name Canali.
Having been the first Italian firm to use mechanized cutting machines in the 1970’s, they are a trailblazer in breaking with tradition while still offering a high-quality product.
The brand is currently in its third generation of family ownership and has an international presence in retail locations and department stores. It’s one of the few brands offering ready-to-wear suits that are fully canvassed, which is the best way to construct a suit jacket in terms of both style and longevity.
They also offer a full line of shoes, shirts, and furnishings, making the brand a one-stop shop.
The Canali website has a wonderful video entitled “Rewind” that we suggest watching. You can see the construction of a jacket unfold in reverse, starting with wearing it and ending with the creation of the pencil sketch for it.
What Does “Made In Italy” Mean?
Much of Italy’s economy is based on the export of luxury goods. Italian names are so common in the luxury space that many are household names. Even someone who’s never driven a car knows the name Ferrari. Jay-Z has rapped about Salvatore Ferragamo, and the brand Jacuzzi’s influence was so immense that the name is now synonymous with hot tubs in the way that Kleenex is for tissues.
Italian law around what can be referred to as “Made In Italy” is stricter than the rest of the E.U. and the United States. Products must be “totally” made in Italy (planned, manufactured, and packaged) to earn the right to bear the label “Made in Italy.”
All of Canali’s suits are made from start to finish in Italy. With about 1,700 employees across seven factories, they produce about 250,000 pieces of clothing annually.
Canali & The Italian Tailoring Tradition
What makes an Italian suit different from a British or American suit? For starters, we’ll refer you to a previously published article, but here’s the quick and dirty on Italian (“Continental”) suits compared to their Anglo-American cousins:
- Slimmer fit
- Higher button stances and gorges
- Barchetta breast welt pocket (curved like the shape of a small boat)
- No pocket flaps
- No vents
Canali doesn’t religiously adhere to all of the guidelines mentioned above. In fact, as one of the first Italian brands to embrace the global economy and go international, Canali has had the wisdom to meld their Italian aesthetic with British details, like using vents and pocket flaps. As you can see below, slimness is still paramount in the fit of a Canali jacket, showing that the firm stays true to its Italian roots in the most important way.
The jacket pictured above, currently available on Canali’s website, is very Italian in its silhouette. Note the relatively drastic hourglass shape and higher-than-usual button stance. These are hallmarks of the Italian tradition.
The brand also offers a made-to-measure option they call “Su Misura,” which allows the customer to select his own fabric, lining, and design details like lapels, vents, and buttons. As a general rule, we advise made-to-measure or custom suits if your budget allows, as it offers superior fit and customization options.
If you are looking for a high-quality ready-to-wear or made-to-measure suit, Canali is a great brand to try. Their commitment to quality is strong, their Italian aesthetic is stylish and professionally appropriate, and their business has expanded to include accessories and even shoes.
Canali goods are available all over the world in department stores, retail locations, and online.