When you first meet Fabrizio Margutti, second generation owner of Perugian tailor, Sartoria Margutti, you realise quickly that he’s not afraid of colour. As we hop on a Zoom call to chat, he appears before me in a glorious Umbrian green corduroy jacket, with a deep emerald-coloured floral-print cotton shirt underneath. It’s an impressive combination, and over the course of our conversation it becomes tricker to tell which is greener, Fabrizio’s jacket, or me – with envy.
Sartoria Margutti isn’t perhaps a name you’ll have heard of, unless you’re a serious Italian menswear aficionado. The shop itself is an elegant bespoke tailor and shirtmaking atelier in the medieval town of Citta di Castello, and was founded by Fabrizio’s father, Franco, in 1947. It feels like a hidden gem, every bit the authentic, true-to-tradition family firm. “I spent my childhood sitting on work tops in the atelier, watching my father work and listening to customers coming and going,” Fabrizio tells me with a smile.
Fabrizio calls these childhood memories “joyful”, but it never occurred to him that he’d end up continuing his father’s work for another generation – even when he started working in the family business part-time while studying. Fate, though, had other ideas. Just as Fabrizio was finishing up at university in 1992, his father sadly passed away and his path became clear: “I knew that I had to continue his work,” he says, simply. He also introduced shirtmaking to Margutti’s bespoke offering for the first time.
“In the past, the core business was suits,” explains Fabrizio, “but I prefer working on shirts to suits – and when I started working with my father as a teenager he continued to look after our suit business and I introduced shirts. I wanted to be able to offer customers the full service; suits, shirts, separates, maybe shoes – the works.”
Speaking of the works, Margutti’s house style is arguably as colourful as Fabrizio, led by confident checks, plaids and printed fabrics, styled in neat-looking shirts with rolling collars and contrast-lined cuffs. “Of course, we have our own specific details for the shirt, but we’re open to the requests of all our customers,” Fabrizio says, “we’re here to make customers’ dream shirts reality.” In terms of make, Fabrizio and his team offer two services; Classic, which mixes machine-stitching with handmade details, or Exclusive, whereby most seams are sewn by hand, as well as the shirt’s sleeves, front and hems. Naturally, the finishing is beautiful throughout, although Fabrizio is keen to emphasise that working with the right fabric is key.
Shirtmaking is like pasta-making. If the grain is bad, you don’t get good pasta. In the same way, with shirts, you need the best raw materials. Then, the modelling of the shirt is the next thing, ensuring a flawless fit for customers, no matter their shape or size.
— Fabrizio Margutti
Despite this time-honoured formula, Margutti is no stick in the mud. Alongside conventional bespoke shirtmaking and tailoring, Fabrizio offers a digital tailoring service, whereby customers can create their ideal made-to-order shirt online by choosing fabrics, styling details and inputting their own measurements into the Margutti website. It’s a clever system (and was indispensable during the lockdowns of 2020) and having trialled a few different digital tools, Fabrizio ensures he keeps the quality high by overseeing every order that comes in. “It’s very important to me that when online orders come in, I receive them personally,” he explains. “I can see immediately if there are any issues with the measurements or if anything looks unusual. If there’s anything I’m not sure about, we’ll invite the customer in for an in-person fitting, instead.”
Fabrizio is also a keen Thomas Mason ambassador, and was one of the very first shirtmakers to trial the brand’s digital cut-length ordering service when it was introduced a few years ago. “I like to think that I was a pioneer of the service,” he says, proudly. “I was one of three or four shirtmakers who were part of a new chapter for the mill.” His favourite Thomas Mason cloths speak to the playful parts of his personality, and that of the Margutti brand too.
“For me, all the fabrics offer exceptional quality, but the Thomas Mason Victoria denim is great for casualwear. When business-people come to me, though, I always recommend the Journey 140s twill; I get great feedback on the Journey fabrics from all of my customers who travel, it really helps them to stay looking pristine.”
A large part of Margutti’s clientele today are international business travellers, but as our conversation wraps up, Fabrizio tells me that he has one client who stands out more than most. “A big satisfaction for me was when Pope Ratzinger asked me to make something for him. In the past, I had a small shop inside the Vatican, so he knew who I was. Making shirts for the Pope is pretty cool.”
Surely, there are few testimonials out there more powerful than His Holiness’s own seal of approval? Sartoria Margutti might be a small, under-the-radar firm, but it’s one you really ought to try.
Learn more about Fabrizio and Sartoria Margutti at margutti.com