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A Proust questionnaire interview with Tommaso Melani,
CEO of Stefano Bemer shoemakers
Who are you?

My name is Tommaso Melani. Born and raised in Florence and actively involved in real-craftmanship and true heritage Florentine companies such as Scuola del Cuoio (founded in 1950), Stefano Bemer (founded in 1983 and acquired in 2013) and Sartoria Vestrucci (founded in 1950 and acquired in 2017).

What is your professional background?

Master in Business Administration 

How would you describe your own style?

I appreciate authenticity, quality, depth, and attention to detail in everything I do. So my style reflects who I really am (I don’t spend a minute thinking of what to wear), is strongly rooted in mixing and matching a few quality items (I’m not a great shopper for lack of interest in fashion trends but also for a painfully evident lack of time…) that I have been spontaneously put together taking inspiration from what I do but also from what I see around me. I like to feel comfortable and laid back, so I normally don’t wear a tie, but I believe that a man (i don’t like the word gentleman, abused nowadays) should always wear a sport coat. I like to think that I reflect on the style of my city but also show that I am a man of the world if it makes any sense!

What is your earliest memory related to menswear and style?

The magnificent eighties, of course! the Paninaro look with Timberland, Levis 501, Moncler, ray-ban and El Charro belts.

What inspires you / How do you find inspiration?

Around me, everywhere I go. beauty is a multi-faceted jewel and you can find it expressed in small and large things in life. but I especially look up at men and women whose personality (and not just the achievement) are well reflected in their style. I love coherence…

If you had to name one person that has had the most influence on your style, who would that be?

David Niven! when I graduated from Business School, my perfect outfit was a blue suit (open weave for the summer) a shirt (or a Lacoste for the summer) and loafers!

How would you describe the Italian menswear scene? (Or British/American/Asian)

Fragmented, as our Country! many fashion followers, many fashion confused, some very talented tastemakers and a lot of tacky brands obsessed! but overall, great importance paid to style anyways, which I like.

How do you evaluate the Italian market in terms of sartorial menswear? Are there any trends?

It’s a market full of contradictions: we have the best makers and the worst clients! we’re known in the world for the skills and style but we have very few Italian clients. it’s partially due to the pricing (sartorial is expensive for the average Italian payroll) but also for the fact that Italians can get along by mixing low-cost clothing with a few quality pieces and still make a great impression. They know how to wear it!

How did you come in contact with Stefano Bemer?

I always admired his work. The first professionally met in 2008 during an event that the City of Florence had organized to showcase Florence’s best craftsmen (I as there with Scuola del Cuoio) and started brainstorming about ways to work together… in 2012 I drafted a strategy to restructure and grow the business. After his sudden passing, I offered the family to put in motion the same plan and made them an offer to take over the company…

Tell us a bit about your company or you as a person, what is the secret or unique aspect of that what you are doing?

Six years after the acquisition of Stefano Bemer, two into the Sartoria Vestrucci ad-venture and a (my) lifetime into the history of my family business, Scuola del Cuoio, I am still unable to express how much pleasure and personal achievement I get out of professing, bringing on and possibly spreading the subtle refinement of Florentine culture and style. Being in charge of Stefano Bemer brought me around the world on trunk shows and for events. I have met a great number of discerning clients that - I found out - share a good part of my passion, interests, and values. As much as I was focused on delivering a “Stefano Bemer experience”, I came to realize that, besides that, people appreciated the more general style and life-style that I carried along, which is a direct emanation of my city, Firenze. Being a “fiorentino” is a privilege: walking those narrow streets of cobblestone, admiring those monuments, the architecture, the colors, shapes and enhances one’s sense of beauty, proportion, refinement. It’s not strange that, during the Renaissance, Florence was the heart and cradle of the entire planet. The gravity of art, style, and beauty got stronger in Florence and the generations that followed were "natural born connoisseurs"! 

What is your number one suggestion to men that want to learn how to dress better?

Find an inspiration that it’s not just an icon for its style but that can also reflect a bit of who you are. Aim to it and let your confidence grow a little bit at the time so that you’re always at ease with yourself.

Can you mention any essentials in your wardrobe for next summer?

My wardrobe grows identical to itself! But I can say that green has been my new inspiration since last year: from a linen unlined sport coat to a pair of grass green suede bow tie loafers, passing through English green Polo shirts and even a pale green and orange pan overcoat. Plus, I have a new passion for denim shirts, both classic, formal cut, and vintage.

What was the first thing that brought you into menswear and how would you start building your wardrobe, any advice or secrets?

It was suiting (which I rarely do nowadays, as I prefer to break sport coats and trousers). But my strong advice is to always start with a blue suit for each season. A man never has enough blue jackets!

Brand Control:

Ties: YSL Knit 

Watch: Patek Philippe Nautilus

Shoes: well…… Yeezy??? LOL

Jacket: Vestrucci unlined

Shirt: Luca Avitabile

Bag: US Army vintage

Style Icon: Steve McQueen

Essential Item: Ray-ban aviator

Store: Ralph Lauren on 72nd street in NY

Hotel: Corinthia in London

City for shopping: Paris

Vacation Choice: Formentera

Dream Car: Singer Vehicles

Cigar: A Cohiba will do

Wine: Masseto

What are your future plans? 

We’re about to upgrade the experience that we provide to our clients. We’re restructuring the headquarters in Florence to integrate  Stefano Bemer and Vestrucci. We’re re-opening the Four Seasons boutique in August with the same concept and we’ll be opening in Milano in 2020. 

What is your vision? 

Focus on the experience. Know what you do well and do it better.

How many people work there today?

Amongst the three companies, approximately 80

Where are you located besides Florence(showroom etc)? 

Scuola del Cuoio is inside the Monastery of Santa Croce in Florence

Stefano Bemer in Via San Niccolò 2

Vestrucci in Via Maggio 58 rosso (until the end of the year)

Other direct stores:

·      Firenze, Via San Niccolò 2 ,+39.055.046.0476 - Bespoke@StefanoBemer.com

·      New York, 23 East 67th Street, +1.646.590.4254 - NewYork@StefanoBemer.com

Sales points?

Main partenrs:

Bergdorf Goodman in NY

Neiman Marcus in New York

Neiman Marcus in Coral Gables (from September)

Isetan in Tokyo (Shinjuku, Ginza)

 

 

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