By Al Castiel III
If you were to see Paolo Martorano walking through midtown to his office one afternoon, you’d probably think he worked for a hedge fund or a brokerage house. However, Paolo is in a very different line of work. He is the owner of Manhattan-based Paolo Style, a bespoke tailoring firm. Just steps from the Peninsula and St. Regis Hotels, his atelier is tucked away on the 2nd floor of a large, glass office tower. He selected the spot to cater to his clients that work in the same building or in neighboring ones. Aptly situated on Manhattan’s West 55th Street, Paolo’s space is surrounded by New York’s finest hotels, as well as where many of his clients reside–whether it is 15 Central Park West or 1 Central Park South.
Paolo is of Argentinian, Dutch, and Italian descent, with family roots in bespoke tailoring. Whilst not a tailor himself, but an arbiter of fine taste in his own right, Paolo spent the better part of the past decade cutting his teeth at Alan Flusser (who brought the drape style of clothing over to America) and Paul Stuart Custom, under the tutelage of Mark Rykken. When at Paul Stuart (known as the first ready-to-wear brand to utilize English cloth for Italian-silhouette suits), Paolo launched their bespoke shirting program and subsequently taught the other sales associates how to measure clients for custom shirts as well. Following his time at Paul Stuart, Paolo had a brief stint with Alfred Dunhill, after which he launched the company whose label bears his own name. Paolo’s years of working with bespoke tailors, in addition to his luxury retail experience, is a quality that sets him apart from other tastemakers in the New York bespoke tailoring business today.
Inspired by the tailoring houses of Savile Row, Paolo has no qualms about showcasing his Anglo-centric tastes in his product. “While my family roots are in Neapolitan tailoring, my aesthetic is definitely more English than anything; 99 per cent of my garment is English down to the trimmings and materials used internally. I have all the components that make up the suit imported from London. What sets [my house style] apart from traditional Savile Row tailoring is that the garment is not as stiff as most of their suits.” Moreover, Paolo’s house style is not about having an extreme look that sets it apart from that of other firms as much as it is about making a garment that flatters the customer. He prefers a more restrained, yet elegant approach to his tailoring, injected with a healthy dose of styling, if so desired. Inspired by the sleek, Art Deco style of the 1930s amalgamated with modern sensibilities and fit, Paolo loves mixing the traditional with the new, like a suit or sport coat in a modern silhouette paired with a Simonnot Godard pocket square (in his own “signature” fold) and Albert Thurston gut-end braces. Yet, even in the fully customizable world of bespoke tailoring, there are still several constants within all of Paolo’s garments. There is always minimal padding in the shoulder, and his jackets feature a very high armhole that is wider than it is deep for added flexibility. The chest is clean, and the button sits at the natural waistline—the jacket’s button stance is purposefully lower than most ready-to-wear garments.
Paolo also offers a bespoke shirting program in addition to his other garments. The program has two distinct lines, aptly named “bespoke” and “custom”. Both use the same amount of measurements and are made in New York, but custom uses only in-stock cloth. Yet, the custom line boasts a mere two to three week turnaround time. The other line utilizes a paper pattern and every detail of the shirt is designed for the client. Options for collar and cuff styles, as well as any other shirting detail the client requires, are limitless.
Furthermore, Paolo wants to adhere to the traditional roots of the New York tailoring scene by utilizing some of the same tailors for his own business. “I want to maintain New York’s tradition of being a bridge between English and Italian tailoring. I have been able to know some of New York’s best tailors, and my business is able to give work to some of the men and women they mentored. I am honored to have tailors they have trained working for me.” All of the tailors who work on Paolo’s clothes have worked for legendary New York City bespoke tailors like Cheo, Bill Fioravanti, Bruno Cosentino and Vincent Nicolosi. He also feels that as a millennial himself, he can form a connection with a younger clientele that may be elusive to others. In addition to a lack of intimidation due to a similar age between himself and the younger customer, Paolo is also in the unique position of being a tailoring destination for multiple generations, as he has initially worked with older clients, many whom were mentors to his younger clients in their professional fields. “I have met a lot of young guys when they were very junior at their companies, and now these guys are in their late 30s and are in positions of greater seniority. They have come to me and said ‘I now need to dress in a way that gets me taken more seriously’.” With his ability to service a wide variety of tailoring needs for a broad age spectrum (from the slimmer cuts for the younger customer to the more traditional silhouettes for the older clients), Paolo’s customers are ensured that they have a tailor for life.
As he is relatively early on in his bespoke venture, Paolo has no plan of slowing down anytime soon. In the coming months he plans to spice things up a bit in his business with potential collaborations and events, but he isn’t giving anything away just yet. While he travels to Miami Beach, Florida for trunk shows to escape the brutal New York winters, he plans on expanding to other cities in the near future as well. For Paolo Martorano, things are looking up, and this is just the beginning—especially for the new generation in the world of bespoke tailoring.