Meet Richard Benettello, Knot Standard Master Tailor & Regional Tailoring Manager, who joins Knot Standard with an impressive resume from Armani, Zegna, Dolce & Gabbana black label, and Diesel.
KS: What is a Master Tailor?
RB: The master tailor is someone that over a decade or more develops an outstanding skill in made-to-measure and bespoke services. You have to work in a tailoring workshop for many years where you develop different skills as a custom clothier, alteration specialist, cutter (the one who cuts the cloth/fabric) as well as pattern maker (you create the patterns for each clients body/silhouette, size and specifications).
Becoming a master tailor takes more than a decade of specialized experience and skill acquisition. You start as an Apprentice Tailor, a process that takes four to six years.
The length of the apprenticeships vary, but each demonstrate the remarkable work and dedication that all parties commit to them: four to six years for those specializing in cutting; three to five years for those specializing in coats and two to three years for those specializing in trousers.
You then move up to Journeyman Tailor where you spend a few years learning skills and techniques, and about fabrics and more. After that, you work as an Expert Tailor and then graduate to Artisan Tailor where you will work for at least three years creating garments including your own creations. Only after a decade of experience, will you then reach Master Tailor level, a designation that means you have essentially mastered all the skills and techniques of tailoring, have a depth of knowledge about fabrics, clothing and drape and the ability and instinct for understanding how best to dress your clients and customers.
KS: Where do you fit in? What are your qualifications and background?
RB: I consider myself a modern version of a Master Tailor. I work both behind the scenes, in the cutting and sewing room and in the front of house delivering a made-to-measure service as well as representing the company that I worked for, by providing an outstanding passion for customer service on the made-to-measure experience. I try to combine the skills of the tailor with the eye of a young made-to-measure Expert. In the last 12 years, I’ve worked with some of the leading global brands including Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Ermenegildo Zegna, Diesel and Lane Crawford Hong Kong.
I know intimately the extreme knowledge necessary for luxury bespoke service, from creating a luxury garment from scratch. In the classic tradition, a bespoke tailor would go through five different stages after selecting the desired fabrics. The first stage is measuring the customer’s body silhouette, second is transferring the measurements into a custom pattern in order to create an unique garment, after this process comes the cutting of the pre-selected fabric cloth and the final stage of the garment creation is the basting (hand sewing everything together) and between the sewing and the finished garment there are around three to four more fittings with the customer in order to obtain the most accurate and comfortable fit.
I know how to sew a jacket, how to cut a suit. But I also understand the complex world of a luxury environment and the many challenges that come with providing a true and unforgettable bespoke tailoring experience. How to identify what works best for a client ñ even when he may not know himself.
With Knot Standard, I see an opportunity to evolve bespoke tailoring into the 21st century, to marry the finest traditions of classic Italian tailoring with technology and a global perspective. We bring the world of custom to the everyday guy which is why I was excited to join Knot Standard.
KS: What drew you to tailoring in the beginning? How did you get started on this path?
RB: I’m from Milan, which is the capital of Italian fashion. In Italy, you either go into fashion, football or cooking. The true story, I always wanted to dress nice like Richard Gere in American Gigolo. Where I come from it is very easy to be carried away with fashion, driven by the desire to wear beautiful jackets. Despite all the odds, I found motivation in the fact that if you want something you have to go and get it.
When I was kid I use to stare at the Brioni and Giorgio Armani windows in Milan on Via Monte Napoleone and imagine myself wearing those amazing suits jackets. I used to spend hours imagining how would I feel wearing a tailor-made suit or a Giorgio Armani jacket. Since my passion was growing inside day-by-day, I decided to be part of the fashion world by learning as much possible I could, starting from the shop floor and after that the tailoring room.
It was love at first sight. Instead of spending my lunch breaks at a bar or cafe, I took them in the sewing room. I asked a lot of questions. The cutters and tailors began to show me things. How to shorten a jacket, how to sew a buttonhole.
I was around 17 years old and it all fascinated me. So then I began to learn.
KS: What are the key skills and techniques that a master tailor needs to know?
RB: One of the main qualities a master tailor needs to have is a passion for it. He should love it and want to know as much as he can. I live by this philosophy: Its not what you sell that is important, it is the way you make people feel that is the true passion of a modern master tailor.
A master tailor should also be a problem solver and thats everything in bespoke tailoring, being able to solve problems. For instance, say a client gains a few kilos between the day he chose the fabric and ordered the suit and the final fitting. The garment wont really match the clients silhouette anymore. Or the client needs to alter the garment at the last minute. Or a client that doesn’t like the shoulder and sleeve cap wants it reshaped and you have a wedding the next morning, you need to be able think creatively.
KS: What does a master tailor do that is different from a normal tailor?
RB: A master tailor has a wealth of knowledge of fabrics, which change every six months ñ based on the seasons. A master tailor will know which fabrics work best for which customers and in which climates and seasons. We recommend fabrics for different climates, different regions, different periods of the year and can give the best selection and best final result and the correct product.
Another great quality of a master tailor is identifying details. They should have a really precise eye for details. Such as styling, advising the client with a selection of details. Through his experience and can advise a Milanese vs classic button hole, working shams and cuffs, how and when. A master tailor also needs to be able to travel ñ cause usually master tailors from luxury companies work in trunk shows and therefore are always on the move.
KS: What do you love about men’s fashion?
RB: The thing that I likes most is that it is constantly evolving. It’s always a new challenge, a new satisfaction. Every single client is a new small challenge and it’s not repetitive and it’s not routine.
When you have more than 10 years experience, you know you can expect for your clients to be satisfied ñ no matter what. But every six months when I see the new swatch books and the new creations, colors and new fabrics, I feel the whole process is renewed. It’s fresh, it’s hip, it’s young. The more we go down the line, the more styles change and evolve. I love that.
KS: What is unique about Knot Standard’s approach to bespoke?
RB: Knot Standard is a whole new idea. Its fresh and modern and combines the unique and classic world of bespoke tailoring with the modern world of technology to reach a global audience. Big fashion houses typically only offer one or two options fabric-wise, but Knot Standard is a platform for the world’s best and finest of fabrics and each individual can customize his suit as he likes. In other words, its about choice. Choice of the finest fabrics, the modern convenience and the speed of the delivery of the final product.