Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bespoke in West Hollywood: A visit to Giacomo Trabalza

Today I decided to drop by Mr. Trabalza's workshop on La Cienega just north of Melrose. It's tucked away among other local businesses on this busy street in West Hollywood. A lady answered the door and walked to the back workroom and brought out the tailor. I didn't have an appointment but wanted to see what Trabalza would recommend for me as a walk-in visitor looking to become a potential customer.

I was wearing a recently made MTM blazer and trousers and asked him what he would do if he were to make a suit for me. What I had read about his preference for raised shoulders and shaped waists was indeed true. He went to the shoulder first, placed his palms on my shoulders and pressed in and up slightly, saying that he would raise and narrow the shoulder a bit. He said he'd also shape the waist just a bit more. But it's all a matter of a quarter inch here or there, nothing drastic. Trabalza liked the length of my blazer (which was reassuring to hear as I had heard he liked longer coat lengths). For my build, he said he was looking at the relationship between my shoulder width (fairly broad) and chest/waist (not as built or broad). Good point, I thought. But I was most impressed when he moved in to take a closer look at the shoulder of my blazer, stating succinctly, "Brooks Brothers". As a matter of fact, I was wearing a MTM Brooks Bros blazer.

I mentioned I had read the recent Robb Report article on him and Joe Centofanti. I also heard a bit about him from Victor, a salesman who works at Brooks Bros. Trabalza also mentioned that he was interviewed recently again (though I didn't catch the name of the publication). It seemed his business has been doing quite well. He said that for a few months last year it was incredibly busy but things have since tapered off to a more manageable level. On the long table near the front of the store, he pointed out three packages of suits and jackets that were being sent to customers living outside of California. On one of the walls, Trabalza has photos of Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarznegger, The Rock and others. With such high profile clientele, it is perhaps no surprise that he sees he has no need for advertising (cf. my previous entry on marketing 201 for tailors).

He's been working in the trade since he was 14 years old, which is a remarkable span of time. In two or three years, he mentioned it might be time to retire. Incidentally, this means that the two leading bespoke (or bench) tailors of Los Angeles - Giacomo Trabalza and Jack Taylor - might be retiring at roughly the same time. If you're thinking of going bespoke in LA, now's the time to start considering it.

The only question remaining is whether Trabalza will be able to find and groom a successor to his business. Whoever it is, he needs to be a tailor, Trabalza said. I hope he finds some takers. The other trait that he recommends for this business is having a real passion for tailoring. That explains why he's been in the trade for more than seven decades and still going strong.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Juhn
Please forgive my enquiry I am without vast resource. I am 20 years
old and aspire to become a master tailor. Formerly, I was am enrolled in
a Design school-but unfortunately the curriculum did not provide me
with the necessary skills to create masterfully crafted,world class
suits as by Savile Row or the Great Italian Suiting houses, Penne of
the Abruzzi region of Italy. All of my research as yielded the same
results- that the art of suit making is handed down from master to
student. I am willing to do anything for the honor and privilege to
apprentice under a master. Moreover, here in America the tradition
of apprenticing and so forth seem to, as in all other parts of the
world, be in it's final throws. If you have any information that
could aid me in my quest to train under a master artisan tailor
please let me know, I am willing to commit my life to my goal and
would love only to fulfill my desire to service with my heart and with passion. Do you have any contact information regrading Please forgive my enquiry I am without vast resource. I am 20 years
old and aspire to become a master tailor. Formerly, I was am enrolled in
a Design school-but unfortunately the curriculum did not provide me
with the necessary skills to create masterfully crafted,world class
suits as by Savile Row or the Great Italian Suiting houses, Penne of
the Abruzzi region of Italy. All of my research as yielded the same
results- that the art of suit making is handed down from master to
student. I am willing to do anything for the honor and privilege to
apprentice under a master. Moreover, here in America the tradition
of apprenticing and so forth seem to, as in all other parts of the
world, be in it's final throws. If you have any information that
could aid me in my quest to train under a master artisan tailor
please let me know, I am willing to commit my life to my goal and
would love only to fulfill my desire to service with my heart and with passion. do you have any contact information regarding Mr.
Trabalza?

Thank you,
Keithe
korinkahn@hotmail.com

SAVOIA...TheTailor said...

I am SAVOIA...TheTailor from NYC and have recently relocated to LA in hopes of being the TAILOR that Giacomo will want to turn his business over to. I have met with him many years ago for that reason but he then decided to stay in the game awhile longer, maybe the time is right NOW... Please contact me when you have a moment at 917-538-5398, Ciao Grazie...

sleevehead said...

Welcome to LA Savoia! Please feel free to contact me at sleevehead at gmail.com. I'll be traveling quite a bit this month but I hope to chat with you soon.

Women Leather Bomber jacket said...

Welcome to la