A perfect fit -- the ultimate bespoke suit
By Paul Sussman for CNN
LONDON, England (CNN) -- If you think of the hierarchy of tailoring in terms of Mount Everest, down at the bottom -- somewhere around base camp -- you have your average run-of-the mill, mass-produced, off-the-peg suit.
From that level you climb steadily upwards, the atmosphere becoming ever more rarified as you go, the price-tag ever more exorbitant, past off-the-peg designer suits, made-to-measure suits, bespoke suits, until eventually, right up near the top, you encounter hand-made suits cut and stitched by the master-craftsmen of the world's truly great tailoring houses: H. Huntsman of Savile Row, William Fioravanti, Brioni, Attolini, Caraceni.
Above even those, however, sitting right at the very summit of the tailoring world, are suits made by legendary Italian tailoring company Kiton (named after the ancient Greek "chiton" -- a garment supposedly woven by virgins from only the very finest fabrics).
And of all the suits made by Kiton none is more luxurious, nor -- at $30,000-$50,000 each -- more expensive, than the prosaically-named K50.
So called because it is the product of 50 hours work, the suit is made exclusively by Kiton's master tailor Enzo D'Orsi, one of the giants of international suit making.
Because he and he alone can actually craft the suit -- he will travel anywhere in the world to conduct measurements and fittings -- a maximum of 50 appear each year, a rarity that only adds to their mystique and allure, not to mention cost.
"What makes this suit so special," explains Kiton's commercial director Antonio De Matteis, "is firstly that it is created on the body of the person who is buying it, ensuring an absolutely perfect fit; secondly that it is crafted exclusively by one of the world's finest tailors; and thirdly that it is made of only the very finest fabrics."
A K-50 suit uses wool from merino sheep reared in Australia and New Zealand, where the climate and grass-quality are especially conducive to the creation of high-quality fibres.
Typically a K-50 suit will use wool whose fibers are less than 14 microns in diameter, with some employing a superfine 11.5 micron fabric (the lower the micron count, the smoother and lighter the feel of the fabric, and the higher the cost.)
Enzo D'Orsi crafting a K50 suit
From this material, Senor D'Orsi crafts a suit that, according to one critic, "follows the lines of the body so closely, and yet sits so lightly, that it seems to be poured on."
Each one involves a minimum of three fittings and a painstaking process of cutting and stitching at Kiton's factory in Arzano, a suburb of Naples (the breast pocket alone can take up to eight hours to finish.)
Among other trademark design features, the K-50 has tapering sleeve ends -- making the jacket feel more like a shirt -- and an unusually short collar and high "gorge" -- the point where the collar meets the lapel.)
Uniquely, Senor D'Orsi doesn't actually cut a pattern for the suit -- he instead chalks the relevant measurements directly onto the cloth, a method that allows almost no margin for error.
So extraordinarily comfortable is the suit, apparently, and so superior to any other experience available in the world of tailoring, that one Kiton customer was moved to declare: "I could change from a Porsche to a BMW. But to go from Kiton to something else? Impossible!"
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