By their nature, basics aren’t very exciting to talk about, but they also form the backbone of our wardrobe. I imagine that’s one of the biggest challenges for Luca Faloni, a relatively new Italian company specializing in fine dress shirts, knitwear, and leather goods. They started in 2013 on the idea of selling high-end Italian products directly to consumers, cutting out the middleman and offering more value (a common marketing angle these days, even if the idea of value is more complicated in reality). But there’s an important difference between them and other brands doing the same thing. Since their items are so basic and simple, on first blush they can seem indistinguishable from the thousands of other products online. Think of how the market for white t-shirts work – since t-shirts are mostly fungible, they compete on price.
Luca Faloni, the company’s founder and namesake, recognizes this. “We rely on word of mouth and repeat business,” he says. “Selling classic men’s shirts and knitwear on the internet comes with a lot of challenges, namely the customer can’t feel the materials. But we hope to offer such tremendous products, customers come back after their first purchase.” For Luca, this distinction on materials is paramount. He prides himself on using top-end Italian yarns, such as Cariaggi cashmere. In fact, the entire production process is done in Italy, from the yarn spinning to the cutting-and-sewing (although the fibers themselves are sourced elsewhere).
The collection here is simple and likely wouldn’t catch many eyes on Instagram. In today’s attention economy, wardrobe basics such as these can fly by our screens. At the same time, they also form the foundation of the “casual Italian” look that’s popular among men who are trying to find new ways of dressing down their tailored clothing, or wear slightly more refined versions of casualwear. Luca Faloni has slim-fit linen shirts, in both spread and band collars, then some brushed cotton equivalents for cooler days. These are single-needle sewn with mother-of-pearl buttons and crows foot stitching (typical for this price point). They also have some basic knitwear, including plain crewnecks and shallower v-necks, as well as linen shorts. The entire collection has that semi-resort vibe that’s common in Italian casualwear.
Luca loaned me a couple of items for review – a linen dress shirt and pique cotton polo. Both are on the slimmer side of things, as you’d expect from a more modern Italian company, although they’re just short of what I would call a skinny fit. Of the two, I was most impressed with the one-piece collar polos, which have a stiffer interlining that allows the collar to stand up when worn underneath a sport coat. In Italy, they call this a paramontura construction. “With a one-piece collar, the interlining flows continuously from the collar points to the shirt’s body, so it holds its shape better. You can use it in a more formal context, such as worn with a sport coat, while still having the casual and comfortable feel of pique cotton,” says Luca. “On the other hand, people who want a more casual polo may find them too formal.”
Luca is particularly proud of his cashmere knitwear, which includes two-ply cable knits and silk-cashmere polos made to be worn during transitional seasons and summer evenings. Like the rest of his line, these are entirely made in Italy, which makes them a seemingly impressive value at $325. Unfortunately, since I return review items back to their companies, I can’t speak to the quality of the cashmere knits. While the dress shirt and polo I borrowed are well made, quality in cashmere is buried deep in the fibers. You have to wear a sweater for a while to see if it bags or pills, which is why you should be wary of people who review sweaters they’ve just received (especially if they’ve gotten them for free). On the upside, the two-ply cable knits are just thick enough to layer underneath a sport coat, unlike the chunkier four-plys I get from William Lockie.
Again, it’s easy to miss wardrobe basics such as these online. Luca Faloni also operates in that middle ground that’s focused on making high-end products at relatively affordable prices, which is embattled on both sides nowadays by luxury brands on one end and fast fashion on the other. I’m impressed with the two pieces they loaned me, but you have to see them in person to really appreciate their fit, materials, and collar designs. The good news is that the company offers free shipping and returns, even for international customers, and there’s a generous 60-day return window. For the sort of casual Italian look that’s popular nowadays, Luca Faloni is a good source for basics.