Northern Italy

Posted on 06. Nov, 2010 by in Food and Wine, Men's Fashion, Travel

Scott Barber

Sandra Santi, fashion consultant and Claudio Passera, (right), managing director of Testa, and me enjoying dinner at a wonderful Tuscan restaurant.

I just spent ten days in Italy, working on our collection for fall of next year.  I was in Tuscany for most of the trip, which is one of my very favorite places.  The countryside is beautiful, the people are warm and friendly and the food is really something else.  I’d be better off if I liked light food, but I really don’t.  On the Sunday after I arrived, we drove north of Florence and turned onto the narrowest road imaginable (two way, of course).  My Italian agent Sandra and her husband Marcello wanted me to see a wonderful rustic Tuscan restaurant up in the mountains.  The name of the place is Osteria San Michele Arcangelo di Montecuccoli.

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How could it be bad with a name like that?  They make their own pasta, wine, cheese and salami and they raise cattle and chickens. They serve wild boar that they hunt nearby.  It happened to be porcini mushroom season, so these were in abundance as well.  This place is about as authentic as it gets.

I really didn’t want to miss the Formula One race, but I thought this was worth it.  The next thing I knew the owner was turning on the television and everyone in the place, including the eighty year old couple at the next table, was watching the race.

Since I wasn’t in Italy primarily to eat and drink, I spent most of my time visiting suppliers. We spent a full day with my favorite Italian fabric mill, working on shirt fabrics for next fall. I consider this mill to be the best of the best and they’re a pleasure to deal with. We got a lot done and we’ll have some beautiful new qualities in our shirt collection for next fall.

We dropped by the Milan shoe and leather goods show, which was about the size of my home town and very interesting to see. As with most people who love clothes, I like great shoes, so we keep kicking around the idea of adding a couple of shoe styles that would make sense.

We visited sweater factories and yarn spinners and spent a lot of time working on some new outerwear pieces as well as a great unconstructed sport jacket. We’ll be making some of our pants in Italy again as they have the best pant fabrics in the world. People continue to dress more casually most of the time and the Italians have been hard at work creating casual looks. The emphasis is on new dyeing and washing processes that give garments a broken-in look. They use non-colorfast dyes and even spray a second color over the base color to give a faded, inconsistent quality to a shirt, pant, sweater or jacket. The fine make and fabric of the garment still show, so it’s casual, but very sophisticated.

Italy is an inspirational place to do this kind of work and I really enjoyed this trip. I very much look forward to showing you the new things we developed while I was here. We work quite a long time in advance, so these products won’t be in the stores until next August, but I hope you like what you’re seeing from us this season and that the new things suit you when they arrive. There’s always something new and I feel very lucky to do what I do.

 

Lots of new things coming Fall 2011.

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