Made in Italy: Luca Faloni

The founder of the eponymous men’s style brand on Italian artisans, what to wear this summer and why craftsmanship improves lifestyle

Style 5 Jun 2020

Luca Faloni silk-cashmere crew neck sweater in aquamarine, £230
Luca Faloni Portofino linen shirt in sky blue, £140
Luca Faloni Versilia linen shirt in Payne's grey, £130

What is the Luca Faloni style?

The style is basically a classic style, which means our product will look nice over time – they will look nice in 10 years and they looked nice 10 years ago. We try to be between casual and formal so you can wear it for both occasions. For instance, our hoodie isn’t too casual, it’s made from cashmere, there are nice buttons and no pockets, and it’s tailored.

Linen shirts are usually very casual– baggy and with pockets, but our linen shirt has mother-of-pearl buttons, it’s more fitted, there aren’t any pockets, and it has a nice elegant collar. We wanted to have a linen shirt you could wear in the city as well as at the seaside. It’s perfect now for hot weather when people are stuck in their cities.

We also focus on fine materials we think are special – so for knitwear it’s only cashmere and silk cashmere. We don’t do wool, for example. For shirts we do linen and brushed cotton, which are very fine textiles.

Who are your style icons?

Coming from Italy and from Turin, I have to say Gianni Agnelli, the founder of the Fiat group. He was one of the best-dressed Italian men and influenced the way a generation wore clothes. Outside of Italy, someone like James Dean really represents our style well: he is in between classic, casual and rebellious – an inspiration.

How did you start the Luca Faloni brand?

Before starting the brand, I worked in the UK as a strategy consultant for many years. I was always buying my clothes on trips back to Italy rather than finding them in London. Firstly because I had the insider knowledge of which store made the best shirts or shoes, at the best price. But when I came to London, I didn’t know where to get anything and the clothes I knew were high quality were really expensive. However, I didn’t think much about starting a business around it until I was in my late twenties. By then I was working in San Francisco in consulting. It was around 2012 when I came across the first direct-to-consumer brands and thought it was really interesting. They explained how they were skipping the middleman and selling their product straight to the consumer over the internet. And that it made it cheaper for the customer. I immediately thought I could do something like it for Italian high-end fashion business.

Luca Faloni, whose collections are 100 per cent made in Italy
Luca Faloni, whose collections are 100 per cent made in Italy

What makes your fabrics exceptional?

At Luca Faloni, we only want to focus a few fabrics and really learn about them. We have cashmere, brushed cotton and linen. Soon we’re going to add a silk cotton. The fabrics are special as we spent many years in Italy researching suppliers, testing fabrics and selecting the ones we think are the best.

Why are they the best? They come from some of the oldest mills in Italy who have been doing it for generations. The brushed cotton, for example, comes from Grandi & Rubinelli and they use the local supply chain to produce something that is amazing. It is resistant, lasts a long time and it is also soft and silky: very good to wear.

Longevity is important to you, how do you make sure your clothes last?

Longevity is important – we don’t change the collection every year but occasionally add designs and colours. We believe that men should own a few staples that last a long time – so we focus on these and make them as good as possible.

We find the right suppliers and test the products for a long time before launching them. By focusing on the same staples, we’ve been able to improve them over the years by adding reinforced stitching on certain areas, for example. We also wouldn’t launch anything with a textile we know is very delicate.

Brushed cotton is soft but it’s very resistant and it will last a very long time if you treat it correctly. The same with linen – it is 35 per cent stronger than cotton – a lower thread count but a stronger fibre. Cashmere requires maintenance but if you wash and care for it correctly, it will last a really long time.

You’ve said supporting Italian artisans is important to you. Is this even more vital post Covid-19?

From the beginning we said we wanted to source both the materials and the craftsmanship from Italy. No shortcuts, I wanted to stick to being 100 per cent made in Italy. Of course, Italy was one of the first countries to be hit badly by Covid-19 in Europe. Artisans across the country really suffered because the stores closed, products didn’t sell so brands were ordering less. Luckily for us, having a permanent collection means that if we sell less for a few months, our collection will still be relevant and saleable a few months later. We didn’t change the relationship with our artisans – we kept everything on order, everything the same. The workshops opened again in early May so we started production again. And before then, in April, we donated 10 per cent of revenue to the hospital in Bergamot – the city at the heart of the area where all of our artisans operate.

What do you think is special about Italian craftsmanship?

If you travel across Italy to different regions, you will see that all the areas are famous for different products. For example, in La Marche, in the middle of Italy, they do shoes. In Veneto also they do shoes. In Turin they do textiles; in Lombardy they make shirts. Cashmere production is in central Italy. The craftsperson’s job and the artisanal tradition is also passed from generation to generation – the grandparents and the parents of the artisans who work for us today did the same job. The second thing is that these artisans do the same job their whole life. If you have tradition, many generations of experience and passion, you’ll be better at your job.

“There is pride and passion in wearing carefully considered and crafted clothing. I think it improves the way you perceive yourself and your image”

You say on your website that craftsmanship improves lifestyle – what does this mean to you?

If you wear clothes that have been imagined for your lifestyle, craftsmanship can improve it. We know that a lot of people these days have dynamic lives – they travel a lot and don’t live the same week every week. Our clothes are designed for that. There is also pride and passion in wearing carefully considered and crafted clothing. I think it improves the way you perceive yourself and your image.

Many Londoners will be facing a summer spent working from home without air conditioning – what do you recommend they wear to stay smart and cool?

For summer, we really focus on linen. We have three linen shirts – the classic, which is perfect for more elegant evening occasions and work meetings. We have the band collar shirt and we have the kaftan – those are more casual and perfect for relaxing. And we also have linen trousers and shorts – we actually had a client write to us today saying how happy he was about wearing Luca Faloni linen shorts in the house because they felt so fresh and comfortable.

Cashmere is great as an extra layer in the evening – we’ve always used silk cashmere as it’s very lightweight and cool. When we can travel again, I always take cashmere for the flight because of the air conditioning. It regulates your body temperature so you don’t get too hot or too cold.

Where are you looking forward to travelling to after lockdown is lifted?

Definitely Italy as I haven’t been for three months, it’s the longest I’ve ever been away. I usually see the artisans once a month. Away from work, I know them personally so want to catch up with them. And of course, I want to go on holiday.