Ambrosi Napoli – Bespoke Trousers – The Finished Trousers

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Art masquerading as trousers. This sums up the finished product from Salva’ and it hints at the essence of true bespoke tailoring and perhaps any worthwhile pursuit in life: Creating something beautiful from the ordinary, not through necessity, but from passion and the simple dedication to excellence in a field.

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I’ve divided this article under two headings “Trousers” and “Experience” as they’re best addressed separately.

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Trousers:

Famously, where a pair of Ambrosi trousers will differ from most other bespoke makers is in the detail and amount of hand stitching. The handwork which goes into a pair of trousers is beyond that of most other tailors. Bar-tacks sit at every stress point of the cloth, pick (raised) stitching runs along the entire length of the outer seems as well as at several other points to the internal and external parts of the trousers, certain buttons and button holes are hidden from view until you know where to look…. detail and some artistic flair. Much of the detail is functional, such as the hidden buttons which have been sewn into the cuffs to allow them to be opened and cleared of dust (which accumulates a lot more than you’d think) and this, along with the prolific use of bar-tacks and a button fly is somewhat of an Ambrosi signature.

Bar-tacks surround the pleats and pockets, with pick stitching below the coin pocket and hand sewn belt loops. Note the matched checks on either side of the pleat which are hard to cut accurately.

Bar-tacks surround the pleats and pockets, with pick stitching below the coin pocket and hand sewn belt loops. Note the matched checks on either side of the pleat which are hard to cut accurately.

In addition to the above, Ambrosi are known for a fairly unique cut and you can generally spot someone wearing Ambrosi trousers if you know what to look for. Higher on the waist, tapering at the ankle and cuffed. A very Italian aesthetic. Where other tailors are happy to cut trousers however a customer likes, Ambrosi are more likely to offer flexibility in small areas (like with my trousers, which had slightly shallower cuffs. A wider leg or less tapered silhouette wouldn’t be an issue either), however the overall aesthetic will always tend to remain largely “Ambrosi”.

Hand sewn button holes to the fly

Hand sewn button holes to the fly

The fit is fairly good, which had looked likely, given that the first fitting was quite accurate. However some alterations do need to be made (which would have been achieved had we had a second fitting, but my schedule ruined that. Not Salva’s fault. Changes that will eventually be made include the need to raise the waist slightly (you’ll see in the article of the first fitting that the waist is slightly higher, but the finished pair sit lower) lengthening the cuffs by a centimetre and raising the rear bias (raising the back half of the trousers into the waistband, so the trousers fall in a clean line over the back of my legs (they currently break slightly over the back of my calf). Additionally, and as some readers have pointed out, the pleats stay open when I’m standing naturally and they should be closed, only opening when sitting down The hip seams will need to be opened to close the pleats properly.

The details which are missing, which were supposed to have been included, are the fish shaped buttonhole which I have on all my bespoke commissions (it wasn’t sewn in to the waistband closure, instead, a standard button hole was made) and a wider waistband.

The checks have been matched quite well, but not along the inner leg and are slightly off on the outer leg. No-one else will likely notice it, but I can see it.

The “Shark Skin” cloth from Vitale Barberis Canonico has made up beautifully. It’s light, breathable and the simple check pattern balances subtlety with some personality. It’s an ideal summer cloth.

Waist button which slots into a hidden button hole at the waistband seam

Waist button which slots into a hidden button hole at the waistband seam (only visible from the bar tacks at the seam).

Experience:

I wanted to include this separately as there have been issues along the way. Namely, the delay. The trousers were expected to be delivered in September last year. Their arrival last week puts them at around 10 months past that date. The frustration came largely from not hearing back from emails which I’d sent to ask for updates once the September time frame had well and truly passed by. Over the years Salva’ has had some well published feedback, online, from others who have had to wait excessive periods of time for trousers, some saying they never received them at all. Salva had assured me, when we caught up in Naples, that this was a thing of the past, so it was a bit of a shame to have had emails go unanswered for months at a time, not to mention the literally dozens of emails I received from readers asking me where the trousers were and suggesting I had been taken advantage of.

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Checks matches well horizontally. Pleats should be closed when standing in this position.

It got to a point where I had my doubts if I would ever see them, but I was quietly confident that they would eventually arrive. This was largely due to the fact that I genuinely really like Salva, coupled with the fact that he twice went out of his way to open the atelier for me when he was already on holidays, spent time showing me how he sewed his bar-tacks (I wanted to see if they were any different to how I learned to make them – they were) and when he did eventually reply to my emails, they seemed sincerely apologetic. So from my experience, the issue exists mainly in the back end of running the business and a breakdown in the chain of production and communication, rather than anything malicious or deceitful. It is not, as many have suggested, what to expect when dealing with Italian tailors. It’s unfair to categorize Italians in this way, as every other experience I have had with an Italian crafts-person has been outstanding (namely Nino Corvato, Marco Finardi and Anna Matuozzo).

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For anyone who would have concerns about commissioning trousers through Salva’, I’d suggest not to worry too much, though if you want to eliminate the risk, then working with another tailor may be a better option for you. It seems that in recent times the delivery issue has improved (though it hasn’t been eliminated) and my experience is more of the exception rather than the rule. For peace of mind I’d recommend going through any of his trunk shows around the world, namely with the team at the Armoury, Ethan at Brycelands Co, or Drake’s who have played a big role in bringing Ambrosi to a global audience. Dealing with businesses like the Armoury is a more reliable process and you can expect that you’ll receive your trousers as expected and on time. Salva travels prolifically and is back and forth across the globe several times a year.

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It’s my hope that having written about the couple of negatives which cropped up won’t affect my relationship with Salva, as it’s one I value, but it’s important to me that I write honestly about each experience.

Overall, I’m happy with the finished trousers, they are well cut, well made and a pleasure to wear…. they just took a little while to get here and as much as I would have liked to have been wearing them since last year, I’d say the wait hasn’t been a waste.

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Andrew is an Australian born writer, covering the world's leading bespoke tailors and craftspeople in menswear, with a focus on authentic quality, over branding. He spends most of his days running his successful (god knows how) consulting company and travels frequently to Europe for work and writing. He's a passionate cyclist, former trainee professional golfer and lover of all things Cocker Spaniel. He's married to his best friend and significantly better half, Mehri.

8 Comments

  • Reply July 31, 2015

    JohnC

    Dear Andrew,

    The pants look truly incredible and the close up details are a wonder to behold. I think the cuffs are spot on!

    You’ve hinted before that you have picked up a needle and thread – how is that going? A couple of weeks ago I started practising sewing just get a further appreciation on the art (and my grandmothers trade). I’m about halfway through making a tie. Sewing is an incredibly difficult skill (and I know how to suture!) and even a small attempt gives a deeper appreciation of your “art as trousers” point.

    • Reply August 3, 2015

      Andrew Doyle

      Thanks for your comments, John.
      I spend a lot of time working on bespoke trouser making, learning from Bijan. I think that to truly understand something it helps if you can do it yourself. It’s going well and I’m halfway through a pair of bespoke Loro Piana flannel trousers (hint: don’t make your first pair of trousers from windowpane cloth, unless you’re a masochist).
      If you ever have some spare time, go and introduce yourself to Charles Maimone on Crossley lane, he’s a very good tailor, a lovely man and I’m sure he’d be happy to show you how to sew buttonholes. You can then spend the next 6 months cursing the day you ever learned, until they start to look like more like buttonholes and less like squashed spiders.

  • Reply August 3, 2015

    Nik Ismail almurtadza

    Andrew,
    It,s a beautiful trousers,no doubt.But,I would ask for a flatter front pleat.Anyway,it’s a personal choice.

    Nik

    • Reply August 3, 2015

      Andrew Doyle

      Good eye, Nik. Having worn the trousers a couple of times more, I’m going to have the hips released a little to close the pleat fully and give some more room in the thighs.

      • Reply August 11, 2015

        James

        Dear Andrew,

        I think that’s a good idea. Whilst fit can be a subjective thing, I think that the trousers are a little bit too tight and that the pleats shouldn’t flare open when you’re standing still without anything in your pockets – especially when you consider that they’re bespoke trousers.

        • Reply August 12, 2015

          Andrew Doyle

          Hi James. I agree. We’ll have that fixed in the next few weeks.

  • Reply March 26, 2016

    Jay S

    Hi Andrew, how high do these sit relative to your navel? Have you worn these pants with ties with a shorter length due to the increased waist height?

    Best,

    Jay

    • Reply March 29, 2016

      Andrew Doyle

      Hi Jay,

      They sit just below it. In the sweet spot above my hips and below my navel.
      Most of my trousers sit at a similar point, but if a tie is significantly too long for it, I just tuck the back blade into the waistband. If it’s only a couple of centimetres too long for it then I’m happy to just leave it out. Purists might disagree with doing that, but buggered if I can be bothered worrying about it.
      That said, for some of my favourite ties, I’ve cut them shorter, to my preferred length and then re-sewn the slip stitch. It only takes half an hour if you know what you’re doing and are relatively handy with a needle.

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