This Italian menswear factory spent 40 years making clothes for other brands—now, it’s starting its own
For three generations and four decades, Sannino Napoli has produced some of the best leather, suede and wool outerwear in Italy. Why, then, have you likely never heard of it? For most of that time, the brand made garments on behalf of other brands. Now, under Alessio and Gaetano Sannino, a well-kept secret is stepping into the light.
In some ways, this is a familiar Neapolitan story: A family-owned menswear operation with generations of expertise transforms from an insider-only sartoria into a distinctive brand with its own narrative. Add to that the world-renowned Neapolitan dedication to high craft, to lightness both in a garment’s construction and in its spirit and you might think you already know the whole story.
But Sannino stands apart in its distinctly modern approach. “The work is a little different from traditional Neapolitan tailoring; we come from that tradition but use new machines and make something with precision and accuracy,” Alessio Sannino explains. Where traditional Neapolitan suiting is distinguished by extensive handwork, which gives suits a unique but also inconsistent character, Sannino embraces cutting-edge engineering alongside craft. Sannino’s specialty is outerwear—not suits—so a bit of machine-made utility is pragmatic. “You can see the stitching is perfect, not handmade,” Alessio points out. “The cutting, the 3-D patterns, everything is computerized.” By the same token, the brand embraces technical fabrics: Loro Piana Storm and Rain Systems, stain-resistant leathers and suedes.
Key to Sannino’s journey has been a partnership with the veteran editor, retailer and stylist Josh Peskowitz, who met the brothers as they began transitioning from being a manufacturer to being a brand and decided to collaborate on a full collection. “They have access to the finest materials available and have made outerwear for some of the finest brands ever to exist,” Peskowitz says. To develop Sannino’s independent identity, the trio focused on making luxury outerwear more versatile and practical. Luxurious as the materials may be, these garments aren’t delicate. As Peskowitz says, “They’re for everyday wear, with a traditional look and feel but with modern performance aspects.”
Maintaining a connection to the past without getting stuck in it is one of the hardest problems for any brand with history. For Sannino, modernity has come in part from playful designs such as a wool fleece vest with contrasting suede patch pockets and a checked wool trench with burnt orange trims. But also, remixing the past with refinement as in a flight jacket made from a performance wool usually used for suiting or a pale suede vest that remains taut (and stain-free!) for decades. It’s a brand that can be relied on for finely-made jackets that suit most any occasion.
“The sky is the limit for outerwear,” Peskowitz says. “It’s one of the most important categories for men to invest in, and we want to continue to offer really technically sound, beautiful products that have function and longevity and can be in someone’s life for a long time.”
This was first published on Robb Report USA