MARCH 26, 2016
The story behind the craft: E.G. Cappelli ties
You would be hard pressed to find the E.G.
Cappelli atelier in Naples even if you were looking for it. Down the tiny Vico Cavallerizza a street as narrow as most alleyways you have to search out the number “37” on a small entrance buzzer next to an iron gate under a stone archway. Once buzzed in, you enter a large courtyard packed with cars parked this way and that. Turn right and use a keen eye to spot the small gold plaque that quietly announces: “E. & G. Cappelli Cravatte.”
The space you enter is simple and unassuming. Clean white walls, a few ties hanging here and there, bolts of silk and wool on shelves. The warmth of the place emanates from the owner, 57-year-old Patrizio Cappelli. He shakes your hand and makes you feel at home as soon as you arrive. The funny thing is, Patrizio might never have been here if not for taking a huge risk two decades ago.
Patrizio Cappelli in his Naples store.
Patrizio Cappelli was supposed to be a pharmacist. After years spent in school and specialized training, he settled into a career at his family-run pharmacy. But as he neared his late 30s, in the spring of 1995, Patrizio decided to risk everything and follow his passion. As much as pharmacy was in his family, style was in his blood. “I have always loved to dress,” says Patrizio, “I even had my first bespoke suit at 17. A gray flannel.”
But simply following a passion does not always lead to a successful business. The reason why Patrizio has thrived, the reason why the sartorially tuned-in seek out his ties wherever they are sold is his single-minded approach to quality fabrics and construction. The latter is done right in his store. Behind a green curtain on the lower level is a small workshop where five artisans follow a nine step process to make each tie. As Patrizio says, the skill required to assemble and perfectly close each tie, by hand, is like that of a bespoke tailor. The construction of his ties is something you can see and feel: the hand-sewn stitching running down the back; the self-tipped edging or, on the untipped, hand-rolled edges; the high-quality, two-type lining that is remarkably soft and pliant.
Patrizio Cappelli in medallion wool challis tie.
However, it is the outside, the fabrics and patterns that make Cappelli ties so sought after. Patrizio makes numerous trips to fabric mills at home and abroad to procure exactly what he wants: silk twill, madder and wool challis from Britain, grenadine from Como, Italy. He works with the printers to achieve the kinds of unique patterns so associated with Cappelli ties. When searching for patterns and colours that are subtle, deep and rich Patrizio does not follow a formula but instead “I follow my heart.” He is also searching for fabric with the proper hand and look—silks that are not too shiny, wool that is soft yet firm. And these fabrics are perhaps the unheralded secret to Patrizio Cappelli’s success.
Regardless of the tie – silk, wool, grenadine, self- or untipped – Cappelli’s neckwear is carefully crafted to have just the right heft to tie a perfect knot. And it is in the knot, after all, where the beauty of a tie rests. Patrizio understands that regardless of how you wear your tie, how nonchalant or perfectly presented, no matter the fabric or the pattern, the tie must make an excellent knot to most literally anchor it to your ensemble.
It is this combination of construction, fabric and pattern that make Cappelli ties so versatile. As you walk the streets of Naples, you will often see men wearing ties in more “casual” situations. And Cappelli ties are perfectly made to bridge the gap from tailored to casual. While many of the ties harmonize with a dark business suit, they are also just as comfortable with a sport coat, cardigan or even a safari jacket.
And as you prepare to leave the Cappelli atelier there is probably one last question on your mind: what does the “E.G.” in the name stand for? “My sons, Ettore and Gaetano.” And did Patrizio name the company in their honour, or in expectation that they will one day take over? “Whether my sons will continue with it, I don’t know,” Patrizio says adding, with a smile, “after all, I left my family’s business to start this one.”