• Camiceria MAZZARELLI - Italian artisan culture

    Built up over time - a family tale.
    The story began in 1960 at Castellana Grotte - province of Bari, where the father of Domenico Mazzarelli, opened his artisan workshop specialized in top quality men's shirts. Marino Mazzarelli was a parachutist in the Second World War. He loved shirts. In one of the many moments spent in the shelters, Marino happened to sew a shirt for himself and for one of his companions - a beautiful shirt using the material from a ripped parachute that they'd picked up. The Mazzarelli family has always believed that passion is a value to be shared. With the passing of the years their company has improved it's product to a point of celebrating the shirt as a metaphor of elegance and style. For three generations now Mazzarelli has been transforming quality fabrics into refined shirts, with unchanged passion and an eye for the latest trends. Today they take the prestige of Italian craftsmanship all over the world and you can find their shirts in the best men's clothes shops in New York, Brussels, Paris and Milan, to name a few.
    Domenico Mazzarelli - the second generation.
    Roots in Apulia - gift of love.
    In Apulia, for a long time the shirt continue to be a homemade article, sewn by individual embroiderers for their own families or to earn a little something extra by making them for the local elite. The Apulian shirt is traditionally a 'gift of love': young girls embroidered them as wedding gifts for their spouses. Thinking of crochets or wedding dresses, there has always been an artisan   tradition in the area. When they weren't working in the fields, women prepared their daughters' trousseaus. Digging a bit deeper, one could even say that the tradition dates back to the 12th century, when Roman Emperor Frederick II arrived in Apulia. He personally designed and had built the famous Castel del Monte. It is said that to stock his wardrobe, he provided his farmers' wives with silk from his estates in Palermo and Messina. He chose specific styles and materials for his various roles as king, poet,  soldier and so on. These farmer's wives were the first embroiderer seamstresses, who've passed their skills down over the  generations. The economy of Apulia is founded on small- and medium-sized businesses. It has evolved thanks to skills built up  over time and with the technical proficiency of workers who inherited an ancient tailoring tradition. Our search for more truly 'Made  in Italy' collections, did PORTONOVO turn to an Apulian company that ensures a 100% Italian product made by using traditional  methods.



    Craftsmanship - style and tailoring rigour.
    Each Mazzarelli handmade shirt is unique. When you purchase a tailor-made shirt, you'll wear an item perfectly modeled to your body. The fabric comes alive under the knowing tailoring skill that defines and applies every last detail. Tiny, personalized details distinguish every shirt with supreme care and attention. The production process is one of handcrafted tailoring, subjected to internal quality control. Therefore only a limited number of items is turned out each day because Mazzarelli puts always quality before quantity. Such painstaking finishing is a sign of the unique wearability that marks Camiceria Mazzarelli out - it is their signature of Italian craftsmanship, where nothing is left to chance.



    Production process - excellence for the love of it.
    Before it's cut, the fabric is washed and ironed along with the interlinings.The paper patterns are then laid out and the shapes are drawn in pencil. The fabric is cut by hand, using the famous tailoring scissors (not a laser, as is the case with industrial shirt- making). Then pieces have to be put together. After ironing the front right and left pieces of the shirt by hand, creating a large pleat, the yoke is sewn and the Mazzarelli label is added.The yoke/shoulder piece is ironed to obtain better accuracy in following steps. The sleeve placket is applied to the sleeve, creating an arrow shape.The two front sides are sewn to the yoke, stitched and felled by machine or by hand.


    Every single item is chalked out and cut by hand, respecting the symmetries of the fabric patterns and the various parts of the shirt,
    then put together by Camiceria Mazzarelli's own skilled tailors.



    With their artisan system, Mazzarelli devides seaming of the sleeves in three phases: the sides are stitched and felled, then the sleeves,
    and finally the sleeves are fitted into the armholes with hand stitching and felling. 
    This operation gives the sleeves the best possible perpendicular form - essential for a fine shirt with optimal fit.


    Sides are stitched with French seams - perfect for lightweight and sheer fabrics, as all the raw edges of the fabric are hidden in an elegant finished seam. Also a great finish for seams that will be exposed, like an unlined jacket. When collars and cuffs are put together, washed interlinings are used to avoid any risk of shrinkage during future washes. For the Green Stone line, a non- adhesive lining is used. The Mazzarelli archives contain over a hundred collar models to choose from thanks to an obsession for shirt collars of Domenico. Collar stay pockets are created and sewn onto the under-collar. The collar points are manually rounded and, after being stitched, attached to the band collar. The cuffs are stitched at the same time. Both collar and cuffs are ironed by hand. Then it's the turn of buttonholes and buttons (always mother-of-pearl). Once all the excess threads have been removed, the keepers are hand-sewn onto the placket and the gusset is inserted by hand to join the sides. After a strict quality control the then complete shirt is ironed by hand and packed, using 100% ecological material.



    Why an Italian shirt?
    What makes an Italian shirt stand out? Generalized Italian style differs from that of Londoners, Parisians or New Yorkers in the following: in London the classic shirt reigns supreme. Londoners adore popelines, stripes and the bold and often eccentric patterns that distinguish their look. Double cuffs are popular, along with white collars and cuffs contrasting with the rest of the shirt. Parisians like collars that aren't too wide open.They prefer thin coloured stripes, not over-defined. A number of times they will go for plain colours, especially pink (in a slightly brighter shade than those generally sold in Italy). In New York the shirt is often button-down, for work situations as well. Most popular fabrics are Oxford and pinpoint.The casual shirt is widely used, especially in brightly coloured checks or stripes. PORTONOVO appreciate Italians for their love for open collars and a snug fit. With pleasure we follow their superb elegant style and also tend to opt for plain white and light blues for work, keeping the coloured 'washed' effect shirts for leisure use.
    Made-to-measure service. 
    Mazzarelli offers an excellent service for customers the world over: a form with your data and measurements should be filled in. Meanwhile you make a choice from the many fabrics available. You can specify the model, type of collar and cuffs, buttons, and any monograms or other details to be embroidered by hand. We recommend to choose the most suitable fit for your body of the various lines available - from traditional, comfort and slim to more unusual ones. Hand sewing can be used with any fit, but the essential peculiarity of the company lies in their ability to make specific alterations to the standard fit.



    Hand versus machine.
    Hand sewing is a typical feature of the old artisan tailoring tradition and makes an item more special, not to say unique. However there is a particular stage that adds a practical aspect too, and that is the hand-sewn armhole. Hand-sewn stitches in that area make shoulder movements much easier.These kind of stitches are resistant to wear and repeated washes.To illustrate: the Mazzarelli seamstresses leave a minimum gap between one stitch and the next.Their work has to be done with the greatest attention as the yarn has to be kept constantly taut to avoid creating any fabric yield, but without exaggerating as this would then cause wrinkling - a balance that can only be attained with lengthy experience.The sewing is finished off with top stitching done by hand, making it as resistant as machine sewing. Generally when sewing is done with needles that make nine stitches per centimetre, which is more than usual, the seam strength will be greater.


    Characteristics of a good fabric.
    Domenico Mazzarelli chooses fabrics personally. He believes a good fabric needs to be resistant, easy to iron, soft and pleasant to touch and keep that same characteristics even after it has been washed over and over again. All this can only be achieved when using an extra long Egyptian cotton fibre to make the fabric: the result is a sparkling, resistant cotton structure. Favourite companies and leaders when it comes to top class fabrics are Cotonificio Albini, T. Mason, DJA and Alumo.



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