International tailor’s congress in Biella — Interview with Alfredo de Giglio

From 31st July- 5th August 2023 tailors from all over the world met in Biella at the Congress of the World Federation of Master Tailors (WFMT). 

The World Federation of Master Tailors was founded in 1865 in Brussels as the Federation of Master Tailors WFMT. Since 1908 it is called World Federation of Master Tailors. The first congress was held in Paris in 1910 followed by the second congress in Paris in Paris with 100 participating tailors. The third congress took place in Zurich in 1939 and the fourth 1950 in London. Since then the congresses are held every two years. 

The last congress before the pandemic took place in Verona in 2019. In 2021 it had to be canceled and for 2023 it was decided to stage it again in Italy, It was hosted by Gaetano Aloisio, the President of the Accademia Nazionale dei Sartori, the National Academy of tailors in Italy. When the decision was made to hold the congress in Biella, Gaetano Aloisio was Vice President of the WFMT, on the last day of the congress in Biella he was elected the new President. 

Gaetano Aloisio had the idea to hold the congress in Biella, because „every tailor knows Biella as the home of the best fabrics of Italy and the world. But very few know the town Biella.“ Responsible for the organization of  the congress was the Italian menswear writer and publisher Alfredo de Giglio, who is also founder and editor of the blog Stilemaschile.

Feine Herr: Can you give me some numbers first of all. How many guests have you welcomed? From how many countries?

Alfredo de Giglio: The tailors who attended the congress were about 280, with a hundred guests/ companions. In some moments of the Congress we exceeded the total of 400 guests. The 33 participating countries are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA.

You have seen tailoring from all over the world. Was there anything that impressed you in particular?

Two things. The creativity and the desire to dare – too much – of some young people from the Asian world. The conceptual difference in fit depending on latitudes. For example, the extensive relaxation of South America and the adherence of the Eastern world, for example Taiwan or Korea.

From my point of view Italy is the world leader in men’s tailoring in terms of number of tailors, quality and style. How do you rate the quality of tailors from abroad in comparison to Italy?

The fashion show of the Accademia Nazionale dei Sartori, on Thursday, August 3, gave a tangible sign of the Italian school, indeed of the different Italian schools. Both for men’s and women’s tailoring.

I share your opinion if it would still be necessary to work a lot on the quality and the concept of the tailor’s work. It takes more professionalism and vision to excel in the global market. However, there are young people, and with them hopes for the future.

I have seen excellent tailoring, especially from the point of view of workmanship, of great quality, which is not always found in Italian tailoring. In general I saw great desire to confront and grow, to learn and hone their skills. Then, the world of tailoring is beautiful because it is varied and different in every part of the world.

Many tailors complain that they don’t find young people. What is the situation like in Italy?

This is a problem that has always accompanied crafts in general. Reading some articles in newspapers of the 50s, the lack of manpower has always been a problem. For some years, however, the craft of tailoring has become more interesting. Thanks to social media, events like Pitti Uomo, trunk shows, young tailors are increasing because they know they can do it and sometimes even become famous. At the Accademia Nazionale dei Sartori we have many requests, from all over the world, to participate in cutting and sewing courses. We just hope that these young people work on quality, which as I said, is the big problem of today’s tailoring.

What was your personal highlight at the Congress?

The most interesting point was Thursday, August 3rd. The morning with the conference on eco-sustainability together with the sponsor companies Drago, Piacenza, Reda, Vitale Barberis Canonico) and with expert friends like you, Bernhard, or Giancarlo Maresca). And the evening with the parade of the Accademia Nazionale dei Sartori in the historic center of Biella. A perfect fashion show.

Could you please speak about your personal wardrobe at the Congress. May I ask which tailors made your clothes?

For the duration of the congress I wore jackets and trousers by master Massimo Pasinato (Vicenza), both bespoke, and made to measure with his brand Made to Max like the jacket of the Italian uniform, which I chose personally, in blue seersucker by Vitale Barberis Canonico. With some exceptions. Thursday evening I wore a vintage mohair dress by Vincenzo Cuomo in Naples. Friday evening, however, at the grand finale, a tuxedo from 2010 by Maestro Giovanni Celentano from Rome, for 20 years my tailor, before his retirement. The shirts were by my friend Alessandro Siniscalchi, Milan, mostly with cufflinks. I wore ties by E. Marinella, a tie with the Italian tricolore by Ugo Cilento. The tuxedo bow tie was Drake’s, of twenty years ago.