Brioni was a men’s tailor established in Rome in 1945 under the name Atelier Brioni. The firm grew, transformed itself, and expanded in 1960 with the opening of a factory in Penne, Abruzzi, the hometown of one of the two founders, Nazareno Fonticoli. This was the first example of a tailor’s shop organized on industrial lines. The name was Brioni Roman Style. After more than half a century, the firm produces several different lines and continues to manufacture custom-made suits in single-brand boutiques all over the world, from New York to Milan. From the beginning, everything was due to the initiative of Fonticoli, a master tailor from Abruzzi, and of Gaetano Savini, a Roman designer, who decided, after World War II, to restore and revitalize the tradition of Italian men’s tailoring. As a child, while attending elementary school, Fonticoli would sew trousers on piecework, one pair a day, to help his family financially. He went to Rome, where he became a master cutter at Satos, a shop in via del Corso. There he met Savini, who managed sales and customer service: a marketing manager, one would say today. It is uncertain which one convinced the other. Probably, Gateano showed some hesitancy in contrast to the outgoing Nazareno. In 1945, they opened a men’s tailoring shop in via Barberini and called it Brioni, after the Dalmatian island which had been a fashionable spot during the war and had become synonym for elegance, la dolce vita, and dandyism. They had an almost immediate success that was fueled by two extraordinary events. One was the renewed international prominence of Rome, especially with the use of the Cinecittà studios by the big American filmmakers. It was in this atmosphere that the antennas of a monthy magazine attentive to changes in costume and fashion were activated. In the November 1958 issue, a correspondent wrote: “The most surprising phenomenon of post-war men’s fashion is the emergence of Italy as the principal center of tailoring on an international level. Rome has replaced London as the most important destination for those who want to dress well.” The second event was the launch of the “made in Italy” movement. This came from an idea by Giovanni Battista Giorgini to offer the first presentation of fashions created specifically in Italy and not subject to the dominance of French designers. It took place in February 1951 in Florence. Already by January 1952 clothes made by Brioni “walked” arm-in-arm with those of Simonetta, the Fontana sisters, Germana Marucelli, Jole Veneziani, Noberasco, Schuberth, and Carosa in the Giorgini’s third Italian High Fashion Show. The buyer for the big department store B. Altman & Co. of New York took notice of this and devoted the store’s windows to Brioni’s shantung smoking jackets. Some months later, during a very hot July, the runway of the Sala Bianca at Palazzo Pitti, which would become an icon in the history of Italian fashion, hosted the first men’s Collections presentation during the fourth Italian High Fashion Show. It was at that moment that Brioni became one of the pioneers of “Made in Italy.” Since then, for twenty-five years, Brioni, as a tailor shop and as Brioni Roman Style, has been a major figure in more than 400 presentations in 48 countries. In 1955 an article in Life magazine defined Broni as “the Dior of men’s clothing.” The New York Times spoke of the atelier as the inventor of “a new men’s look” and the Boston Herald described it as the leader of a “second Italian Renaissance.” In 1980, when tailoring as a profession was beginning to disappear, Brioni Roman Style founded, in Penne, a school to teach cutting, with four-year courses meant to produce master tailors. It was a big investment, not only in terms of money but above all in ideas. The question was how to organize a school which could revive and strengthen traditional tailoring, yet also take into account the twenty-year entrepreneurial culture of Brioni Roman Style which modernized the roots of that tradition. In that time, while keeping manual ability (in drawing, cutting, preparation stitching, basting, hems, button sewing, and finishing) as the focus of its artisanal skill, the firm has been able to reduce the time needed to “build” a suit from 45 to 20 hours, perfecting the division of work according to everyone’s particular aptitudes, selecting the personnel, and improving the system. Twenty hours against an average of two and-a-half or three in the manufacturing industry, which explains a lot about the tailoring content of a Brioni suit. In 1988 Brioni was awarded the Premio Pitti for its contribution to the development of Italian fashion throughout the world. In 1990, after the acquisition of a series of manufacturing mills and other production units, the Brioni Group was born, consisting of eight plants with 1,700 workers. Half a century of life was celebrated in Florence, on the occasion of Pitti Uomo, with a big retrospective in Palazzo Corsini. In that year of 1995, the atelier was given the task of manufacturing the wardrobe for the newest James Bond, the actor Pierce Brosnan. He was only the most recent of many actors, artists and politicians who have chosen custom-made Brioni suits, including Clark Gable, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Totò, Robert Wagner, Severino Gazzelloni, and Nelson Mandela. In the last years of the 1990s, the consolidated average turnover of the Group, directed by the general manager Umberto Angeloni, was 100 billion liras.
Launch of the first women’s Collection on the runway of Spring-Summer 2001.
The Group’s turnover is €150.337 million. It was €118.302 million in 2000 and €105.369 in 1999. The gross operating margin was more than €23 million.
The opening in Milan, at via del Gesù, of a women’s boutique. In September, Brioni Donna also opened boutiques in Rome and New York.
The opening of the first men’s boutique in Tokyo, on the Ginza.
At the Düsseldorf Salon, Brioni receives the European Fashion Diamond, a prize which Ingedo Company has awarded since 1989 to companies and professionals who distinguish themselves for performance and management.
The premiere of the 20th film in the 007 series. James Bond still wears Brioni creations.
Brioni ends the year with a consolidated turnover of €157 million. Export represents 80%. The U.S. is the primary market.
Always in the vanguard of industrial “custom made,” Brioni opens, on via del Gesù in Milan, a real tailoring workshop that employs 10 people, including workers and cutters. There are 23 single-brand boutiques all over the world.