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ANTICHI TELAI: A FEELING FOR CLOTHES
Rome - (Ign) - There is a place in Rome where time seems to stand still, and impeccable style is the guiding light of a tailor's which has been creating men's suits and accessories according to traditional tailoring standards since 1894: Antichi Telai. Antonio Di Pietrantonio, who runs the company with his brother Savino, has decided to tell us the story of his business.
Antichi Telai is over 110 years old. How did it start out?
The founder was my grandfather, Antonio Taddeo, who in 1894 opened his first tailor's shop with nine employees in Abruzzo: back then that almost counted as a large company! From there, by direct family line, the responsibility passed to my mother Maria, who, since her children had to study, in 1970 decided to pack her bags and move to Rome. My mother retired in 1982 and my brother Savino and I took over the company.
How is your company structured today?
Antichi Telai at present employs a 78 people, aged between 28 and 70, distributed in the company's 6 workshops. Each workshop produces different items of clothing, and there is one dedicated to shirts (tailored and ready-made), one to trousers, one to jackets, and one dedicated to the distribution of tailor-made products. We have over 8000 customers who order at least one item of clothing from us each year. The company also has a commercial clientele, with 25 stores - not only in Italy, but also in Europe and the United States.
What are your production levels?
Each year we make 100,000 shirts, 4000 ready-made suits and 3500 tailor-made suits, 3500 trousers, around 3000 jackets and 12,000 ties. Our turnover is €6 million per year, and has been growing at a constant rate of 10-15% per year. At least up to 2005, that is; in 2006 we will probably remain on the same level.
How come? is there a drop in demand?
On the contrary: if we could, we would further extend our turnover. The problem is that we can't find sufficiently qualified labour. This goes somewhat against the grain, seeing the unemployment in Italy. Here, there is work, but we can't manage to find professionals. This year, also, there has been a significant recovery in the demand for formal wear, but we are unable to satisfy the orders. I think that if we had a thousand employees at the moment, they would all be hard at work.
Your site (www.antichitelai.it) is a showcase for your clothes. Do you also use it for selling?
No. We don't think our products can be sold online. These are clothes: the customer needs to see them in the flesh, to wear them, to feel them on him before buying. And it's also a question of professionalism: ours is a niche product which must maintain high quality standards, so we need to see the customer. Otherwise how can we make tailor-made suits? The site is part of a brand strategy, to provide visibility, that's all.
What are your main products?
Above all, tailor-made suits, made using traditional tailoring methods. The measurements of the suit are taken by tailors with extensive experience, ensuring a result of absolute perfection. The suits are made with fabrics produced by the most prestigious brands in the world: Dormeuil and Holland & Sherry, which guarantee the high quality of the product. Then there are shirts, for which we use only cottons of the highest quality. There are two working procedures: "Neapolitan" (with handmade shoulders, collars and cuffs) and the traditional Italian. And then there are ties, entirely hand sewn with "saddle" point and 7 folds, and pocket handkerchiefs. Lastly, there are shoes: also handmade, using leathers of the highest quality. We use two types of procedure with three leather soles: "Goodyear" and the "Norwegian". The working process involves a shoemaker, a last maker, a cutter, and lastly the workshop. We use the same working methods that the King's shoemakers used.
And your customers?
Antichi Telai suits are worn by professionals, football players, celebrities, rich businessmen, magistrates, politicians and accountants. Our customers include George Clooney and the Prince of Kuwait, who every two months comes to Rome from London exclusively for Antichi Telai suits. Being so much in demand and so loved is us the greatest professional satisfaction possible.