NEW YORK — An Old-World charm and aura of indulgence permeates Bellucci Napoli, the small Neapolitan-style tailored men’s wear business that opened a clubby, three-level “palazzo” in a building at 5 East 57th Street here last month.
This story first appeared in the August 9, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We are very lucky to find the space that matched this experience we are trying to create,” said Nedo Bellucci, the designer, president and owner of Bellucci Napoli, which is building its reputation in bespoke suits, custom-made shirts, and accessories including neckties, pocket squares, scarves, umbrellas and small leather goods. He’s particularly gratified by the move, considering his business had been modestly housed in a West 57th Street showroom shared with a hat company.
Within the new 4,000-square-foot confines, the 20th floor houses a VIP service area to show the collection, for wine tastings, cocktail parties or for a client to reserve for a private gathering. The wood bar and classic Timothy Oulton leather furniture enhance the masculine appeal.
A spiral staircase leads to the 19th floor and the fitting room. It’s also where clients can witness shirts being created by a Neapolitan master artisan. The 18th floor has the creative studio, offices, the design factory with the tailors and a terrace. Previously, the floors were occupied by an Asian art gallery and a jewelry showroom.
The format is a throwback to when Italian aristocrats regularly had tailors visit their homes for fittings, when off-the-rack wasn’t available, and to Bellucci’s own childhood experiences. It was a big day for him when he received his first suit at age 10 for his communion, because his father always dressed in elegant suits. He fondly remembers accompanying his father at least twice a year to the tailor. It was never simply about shopping. There was coffee, conversation and some special moments he shared with his father. “I would really like New Yorkers to feel something similar,” Bellucci said.
While Bellucci does have a background in corporate finance, marketing and communications, fashion was never out of the picture. “Mostly, I had a chance to manage the private portfolios of big clothing companies” in Naples and elsewhere in Italy. “When you manage the money, you become part of the corporate family. You also learn how a garment is made.”
He decided to quit his job, leave Italy and open his bespoke business in New York. Assisting him in the business is Graziano Meloni and Simone Pietro Olibet, the head cutter who measures clients. Italian fabrics are primarily used, but some English fabrics are as well. Suits and shirts, both made in Naples, require four to six weeks from the initial fitting to the delivery, though Bellucci believes he can cut down the cycle time.
Suits start at $3,500 in wool with classic Neapolitan tailoring, meaning without shoulder pads and hand-sewn for durability. “With the Neapolitan tailoring, the more you wear the suit, the better it fits,” said Bellucci. “The fabric really takes the shape of the body.” Higher quality suits in cashmere, and tuxedos, are priced about $6,000.
The opening price for a shirt is $350, in 100 percent cotton or linen. Shirts are pieced together through embroidery, not stitching, and involve nine steps of hand labor. Shirts in higher thread counts and with quicker deliveries are priced as high as $575.
In September, he plans to open a corner for men’s ready-to-wear shirts and accessories in the Timothy Oulton furniture shop inside ABC Carpet and Home in Manhattan. Bellucci recently added custom women’s shirts, priced $425, to the offering.
Bellucci Napoli generates more than $1 million in sales. Overall, “We have 600 loyal clients who tend to buy every season,” Bellucci said.