PAOLO MARTONARO: A RISING STAR AT 31
“I’ve never met anyone at any age with Paolo’s knowledge of fine tailoring,” says clothing aficionado Tom Mastronardi about the young man to whom he’s just introduced me. We’re in Paolo’s intimate 57th Street NYC studio, surrounded by an assortment of the finest fabrics in the world. Paolo’s parents are both therapists, but his grandparents were tailors so it’s safe to say that Bespoke clothing is in his DNA.
His career began interning with Alan Flusser, where he learned the clothing business stitch by stitch (and devoured cover to cover Flusser’s Dressing the Man). He then put his skills to work at Paul Stuart and Dunhill. Six years ago, at age 25, he dared to venture out on his own.
Paolo’s describes his take on Bespoke as “New York Refined.” This involves a very soft shoulder that he developed about a year ago, still padded but razor-thin--about an eighth of an inch. He eschews the no-shoulder look, insisting that Bespoke clothing needs structure, as do most men. He champions a sloped shoulder and natural fibers, showing me a range of garments in luxury fabrics from a super soft 16-ounce lambswool to a seven-ounce Loro Piana silk/wool denim. “Young customers choosing bespoke are looking for conservative elegance,” he explains. “Most go very traditional: three-button or double-breasted, side vents, braces, pleated trousers. A classic navy blazer is often the first item I make for them.”
His customers range in age from 30s to 80s (not many 20-somethings can afford the $7500 opening price tag). Most discover him via personal referrals or social media and have fully vetted him before contact. (Renowned actor George Hamilton reached out to him on Instagram.) “Customers come for the experience of working with Paolo,” affirms marketing guru Mastronardi. “In addition to his technical expertise and taste level, he’s one of the nicest guys in the business.”
While most transactions start in his studio, Paolo often meets with customers where they live: Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, Houston, Boston. “I never ship the first try-on: I deliver it in person so I can better get to know the client. Once that happens, the process is pure magic.”