All those stitches are there for a reason,” says Paolo Martorano, looking over a client during a fitting for a bespoke jacket that is about halfway to completion. The jacket has lines of threads, each a different color, going in various directions across the garment. “They are literally telling the cloth where to go.”
Telling fabric to go where it should go is in the third-generation tailor’s blood. He’s only 31, but has been honing his craft for much of his life, formerly at Paul Stuart and Dunhill and since 2017 at Paolo Martorano Bespoke, on New York’s West 57th Street, a block from the Carnegie Club, where he often puffs cigars when not making customized suits and jackets. The latter take roughly 80 hours to make, involving three to four fittings.
The first meeting is a consultation at Martorano’s comfortable atelier, perhaps while sitting on the couch sipping a bit of single malt. He presents fine fabrics with his suggestions. The bespoke magic begins with a fitting, as every client has portions of their body they wish to show off - or long to hide. As the jacket slowly takes shape, you’ll return for more fittings of the hand-sewn garment. The signature Martorano silhouette is a high armhole and a soft shoulder, but can be customized to your taste.
“A good tailor has to be a bit of a mind reader,” says actor George Hamilton, a a Martorano client known for his sartorial sense. “Paolo is a student of style: British, Italian and American. He has that knowledge of the details - and he lets me be myself. He has an amazing eye for fabric.”
A master tailor irons each jacket before it is ready, an exacting process that can take six hours. It’s the last time it needs such treatment. “You never need to iron it, you never need to press it,” says Martorano. And how does this cigar-smoking tailor recommend getting rid of smoke on such a valuable item? “Brush it off—get a nice clothes brush. Isolate it outside your wardrobe,” he says.
The bespoke jackets begin at $5,200. “This is one of the few luxury items where you get to participate in the process,” he says. “You can’t see your Ferrari being built.”