If you’re just starting to build a nice wardrobe, you should pour almost all of your money into suits (if you wear them), shoes, and outerwear. To a certain extent, you can heavily skimp on the other things (pants, dress shirts, belts, etc), but if you have the best suits, shoes, and outerwear pieces you can afford, you’ll be pretty well set.
For the moment, one of my favorite outerwear companies is Enrico Mandelli. The company was started in 1964 as a family business by Paul and his son Henry. Almost right from the start, the company was able to work with some of the most famous designers for “Italian styling,” such as Walter Albini and Luciano Soprani, as well as some important international brands, such as Martine Sitbon and Ungaro. Despite having some considerable success, however, Mandelli remains fairly unknown and its growth hasn’t been very strong. Whereas most Italian companies grow at 3% a year, Mandelli hits around 1.5%.
Still, if you’ve ever handled a Mandelli jacket, it’s easy to fall in love with the company. They’re simply designed, but fit well and feel amazing. Everything I’ve handled by them, even their twill cotton trenches, feels buttery and sumptuous. Additionally, the designs, while very pared down and basic, express a lot of elegance. For example, their quilted jackets will be cut like notch lapel blazers.
The only downside is that they’re hard to find. De Corato (a store I hope to do a feature on soon) carries some great pieces, but you’ll have to live near one of their locations. For everyone else, there’s Yoox. Their European site often carries Mandelli, and you can get a piece for as little as $125. That’s quite a discount from the brand’s normal $400-600 retail price, but you’ll have to contend with Yoox’s uncertain stock.
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