Wir haben in Turin Camiceria Carmen besucht. Hier fertigen Mutter Carmen und Tochter Roberta in Handarbeit seit vielen Jahren Maßhemden. Ohne großes Napoli-Gedöns und dafür mit verläßlicher Lieferzeit enstehen in der Camiceria Carmen feine Hemden zu Preisen ab 180 Euro.
For those readers who aren’t familiar with Camiceria Carmen, please can you tell us about the company?
We are an historic Italian shirt factory whose name comes from the owner Carmen, who had her first experience in a workshop at the age of 14 and started her own business in 1975. This experience and continuity are strengthen by the support of her daughter Roberta who was able to capitalize the knowledge acquired at the School of Art, Fashion and Costume within the shirt factory Thus in Turin, in the heart of the city, Carmen has become a benchmark for quality and refined elegance for those who want tailored shirts.In fact Camiceria doesn’t have shirts already made but only a broad choice of over 150 among of the best fabrics on the market. Our bespoke shirts are thought and designed according to the desire of the client and they are personally created by Carmen and her daughter Roberta in the workshop attached to the shop.
What makes a bespoke shirt so special?
Time and patience. At a moment when the processing time doesn’t have importance because of a too fast economy and the need of big productions, our made-to-measure shirts workshop is timeless. We take our time to work properly, to check every article of clothing and to leave nothing to chance. We take the time that only the handmade process needs, in order to give the attention and the exclusivity that our client deserves.
What elements of the Carmen-shirt are bespoke – is it just the fit, choice of fabric and sleeve length that are bespoke, or does the customer have the ability to choose a specific collar shape, cuff style etc?
We personally draw, cut and sew, each single part of the shirt. From the collar to the body, from the cuffs to the placket, every little detail can be customized.
Is there a particular cut or style that Camiceria Carmen is noted for?
When working on bespoke, your style must be the one your customer wants. The ability to understand his needs or to give him the best advice, makes our style flexible, and adaptable. The style we can talk about, regardless of cut and shape, is rather in our working process and the care for details. We have been working the same way for 50 years, 50 years of experience and dedication. All fabrics are decatized (washed) and ironed before any other operations in order to give stability to the fabric, the collar and the cuffs. The Client’s measures are taken directly by the owner, Carmen, or by her daughter Roberta. Afterwards they will create the paper pattern on the needs of the client.The different parts of the shirt pattern are exclusively hand-cut. The sewings are made with a pure cotton thread, 10 points per centimeter and blind-stitchings. The collar and the cuffs are made of pure cotton cloth, sewed and non-adhesive, Following the old tradition, in order to avoid gatherings and ungluings. The armhole is sewed offset from the shirt side seam in order to Obtain a better wearability. The buttons are made of the best Australian mother-of-pearl and they are Exclusively hand-sewn.On Client’s demand the shirt can be embellished by hand-sewn monograms, Buttonholes and finishes. In the end, we can say that ours is an elegant and high-class style.
Where are your customers from?
Many customers are from the most important Turin families and from Italy in general, but we also have customers from all around the world. From the United States to the United Kingdom, from Denmark to Switzerland, to Germany.The word-of-mouth has always been our best advertisement.
How important is the quality of cloth that you use and do you have any favoured choice of fabrics?
We have always wanted to have in our store an extremely wide choice of fabrics of the piece, to allow the customer see and touch them, because the quality of a fabric is absolutely critical. We could almost say it’s everything in a shirt! You can work and better wear a high-quality fabric, it lasts longer and it doesn’t lose its beauty. You can recognize a good fabric, you can see it before you even touching it. For those who wear it’s an sort of business card.So we’ve always chosen only double or triple twisted tissues in order to be able to give the customer only a high-quality choice.
Do you feel men today still have an appreciation for traditional tailoring as in previous generations?
We think that today there is a return to the traditional tailoring, especially from the new generations. There are two main reasons: the first one is the low quality of clothes, too often made in countries where there is no care for details and fabrics; the second one is the standardization of clothing that flatten the supply on the market. The fashion sector has imposed rules from which it’s difficult to be free, that’s why those who try to distinguish themselves decide to work with artisans.
Moreover the advent of the internet has allowed people to be well informed on the topic. That has created a very exigent category of new costumers, eager to learn and experiment. Sometimes they are competent, sometimes they think to be at our same level because of the things read on the internet.Despite all this, the web is giving us the opportunity to do always better and to make the traditional tailoring grow.
Aside from men’s shirts, are you making other items of clothing at Camiceria Carmen?
Aside from men’s shirts, our key product, we also produce blouses, nightgowns, pyjamas, boxer shorts and dressing gowns as the 19th Century Turin underwear producers (known as “bianchiste”) used to do.
For someone considering buying a bespoke shirt, could you guide us through the process for purchasing an Carmiceria Carmen bespoke shirt?
For those who don’t know us, we advice for a visit in our city center shop. Otherwise they can send us a shirt that fits them as they like, with a few pictures of them with the shirt on. This is a method already used by some foreign costumers. We can create and send a bespoke shirt to the costumer in order for him to see if everything has been done accordingly to his needs and in that case we can use it as a model to make other shirts for him. We usually send a selection of fabrics through drop box, in order to give the costumer the possibility to choose the one they want. As an alternative, if we organize a trunk show nearby the costumer’s city, he could go there to touch and see with his own eyes the fabrics, to have his measures taken and to try the trial shirt. This has been going on for three years in Denmark.
Naples pretends to be the global hub for shirtmaking. What about the tradion of bespoke shirts in the northern part of Italy?
Naples has surely an important tailoring tradition, an art in the southern Italy, developed as a complement to the male tailoring.Turin has nothing less though. In the 20’s it was the capital of womans fashion, a “little Paris” as they used to say, a point of reference for all Italy. The best tailor’s shops were in Turin, they used to serve the rich and aristocratic ladies from Milan, Florence, Rome and Naples. Alongside them there were also a lot of little highly qualified workshops with hundreds of female employees.They used to make dresses with a mix of Parisian art and grace and Italian taste. They were called “Caterinette” who used to consider themselves way more than simple workers.
The Italian fashion houses had incredible artisanal skills and used to make refine tasted tailored clothes for Italian rich costumers.The big ateliers turned Turin in a proper fashion capital, second only to Paris. Tailor’s shops and highly specialized artisanal workshops thrived in the city center while young women learnt the sewing art carrying the torch of the ancient working canons.
Is there a typical Camiceria Carmen customer and if so, how would you describe him?
Exigent, classic style, traditional and high-quality lovers. These are our customers. The love for a tailored shirt is often passed on from father to son, that’s why we have whole generations coming to us to have their shirts customized. Men who wear a Carmen shirt care about details, have a strong aesthetic taste, love feeling at ease in a shirt that distinguishes him from the others.
Do you have any general advice or tips for someone considering purchasing a shirt?
Nowadays it’s possible to find very good quality shirts. The first advice I’d give is surely to pay attention to the fabric, it must be of good quality and possibly decatized before being cut. The details make the difference, small sewing and collars without internal adhesive clothes will give a more refined style to a shirt, even if already made.
And: what ist your favourite place to eat in Torino?
Turin offers a wide range of traditional and non-traditional places to eat. I will point out the most famous ones and those in which I had the chance to go to.”Il Cambio” is surely the perfect place for an unforgettable dinner, also because it is located in an historical square called Piazza Carignano. It could be quite expensive.Another historical restaurant is “Il Porto di Savona”, in the charming frame of Piazza Vittorio Veneto, almost on the river Po. For those who want to wander and get lost in the oldest streets of the city, eat typical Piedmontese food and taste our famous wines, “Pautasso” and “Le Tre Galline” in the Quadrilatero Romano neighborhood are a perfect choice.