Hunting for vintage supplies in Milan with Gianluca Migliarotti of Pommella Napoli.
Gianluca Migliarotti, the founder of Pommella, and I are in Milan. We’re on our way to visit a third generation business that has been in the same building for over 70 years. They started as merchants selling interior lining, buttons, and other essentials to local tailors and not much has changed since.
"I love these guys. The father had a factory in the 60s where they would make handmade corozo buttons. It's no longer in business but they have the old stock of vintage buttons. You can't find this shape anymore and the colours are very special. Horn buttons are fine, they’re easy. This is more unique."
Gianluca and I turn right off the street, through a stone archway and into a quiet courtyard. In the shop we are greeted by two old gentlemen.
"They have been around tailors forever, so I feel like it's the right thing. Every time I visit, they search amongst the shelves and find something new, maybe they forgot about it too. I’m collecting these buttons, but I know when I’m going to use them. When I find the right fabric and customer it will make sense."
"The details are important to me. You can have an incredible Fox Brothers flannel, the make is good, but then the buttons are like candy — cheap with no thought. For me, I like to consider everything. These buttons are the cherry on top of the cake."
"Some people buy fabric from big mills and very standard buttons. It's a pricing thing where they’re looking to cut a few cents. I don’t like that. Everything looks the same."
"I do a lot of research looking for vintage stuff. Some people may say I’m doing it to look for a "deal" but I ask them 'do you know how much it cost to find this thing?' I go up to the mountains to find an old tailor that’s closing or drive to a little garage somewhere in the middle of nowhere because the old people have been buying fabric all their lives but they don’t know what to do with it."
"People like my trousers, but I can’t make the same thing over and over. The resources are very limited. They can have one pair in that fabric and maybe that’s it. Sometimes I find 10 metres of a vintage fabric and I can make a few pairs but once its gone I’ll never find the same thing again."
In the back office sit a series of old typewriters and a row of family portraits of the previous generations. They’re dressed in beautiful suits which I assume are from one of their clients, a local tailor.
"I spend a little more here but I want to work with them and keep the business alive. There aren’t many tailors around anymore so someone has to pay the bills. I want to play my part."
"It gives me the sense of when I was a kid and we would visit the tailor with my father. It wasn’t really for me, I would just listen to their conversation. They’d have a special cut of cloth. Who knows where it was coming from!? Back then the distribution was different. Suppliers were smaller. Not everyone could buy the same stuff."
"Today big merchants have everything. That’s good on one side but its not that interesting because everything is available. It's easy to buy cashmere or Super 100s but interesting stuff is harder to find. This is my project. I dig around."
As you’re looking around for vintage supplies I assume that you get a reputation as a hunter, which opens more doors. How do you select from all of these materials to make it feel like Pommella?
"It’s tough. I don’t want ugly stuff. I’m looking for the right quality of the past. I want something special and to be recognised for that."
"The bespoke processes is about understanding the customer and their lifestyle. What makes them more comfortable? More interesting? My customers are all people with complicated personalities. Bespoke allows people to translate their personalities to their unique style. I start from the point that dressing up is a type of communication, a language to talk to other people. I look for other details like buttons — the other letters and words to make a more completed sentence."
The Armoury is proud to represent passionate artisans such as Pommella Napoli. Here are a few recent bespoke commissions featuring buttons Gianluca sourced in Milan.
We are very excited to host Lino Pommella and Gianluca Migliarotti of Pommella Napoli at our Tribeca shop on Thursday, February 20th – Saturday, February 22nd.Request an Appointment
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