Prior to visiting Madrid, I emailed the author of the El Aristocrata blog and he kindly recommended a number of tailors to visit. The three tailors he recommended were Larrainzar, Gallo or Calvo de Mora. I ended up visiting Sastreria Jaime Gallo (Calle Ayala 27) in the Salamanca area of Madrid.
When I walked into the shop around midday, I said hola and promptly asked for an English speaker. I ended up talking with a fellow named Fernando. We had a very informative chat and he was friendly enough despite Gallo's impressive reputation. In other words, I got the sense they do not live exclusively off their history and reputation alone, which is a good thing.
First some basic information. Operating since 1936, the store is open 10am to 2pm and 5 to 8pm. We talked about their fabrics, style and tailoring operations. In terms of fabrics, Gallo uses H&S, Gorino (a Spanish manufacturer), Dormeuil, Scabal, W. Bill as well as various shirtings. For new customers, a new suit may take six weeks and at least three fittings. Like the French tailors I visited in Paris last year, Gallo does not travel abroad.
Fernando described the style as leaning toward British (which I took to mean an English sensibility for fit and fabric) with a little dash of Italian aesthetics thrown in. Regarding the silhouette, he described Gallo's typical look in a couple of different ways. First, he emphasized that the "front is the most important." By this, he meant they focus particularly on the visual area formed by the chest and the lapels, namely, the balance between the two. The back should be "square and smooth". The "house" shoulder appears to be fairly straight but relatively soft with minimal padding.
Elsewhere on the mannequins, I saw slightly open front quarters and a traditional button stance around the lower ribs. The result is an appropriately conservative style and cut for the majority of Gallo's clientele. Everything, Fernando explained, is sewn by hand except the center back seam of the jacket (and presumably other straight seams).
The front half of the store consists of three tables, two of which were occupied by cutters during my visit. In the back was a large table where Fernando and I chatted. The head cutter, probably in his 70s or so, was also at this table cutting a grey chalkstripe jacket.
We then walked to the rear of the shop where Fernando showed me two back rooms. One of them contained seven or eight sewers, all sewing and working by hand when we walked in. I also saw two or three sewing machines.
The anteroom in the back housed a couple of examples of the madrileno version of the Teba jacket. Similar to what I saw in Bel y Cia in Barcelona, there are two fabric types - summer and winter. At Gallo, you can order cloths in Scottish linen/cotton blends (Best) or tweeds by W. Bill. Fernando pulled out a winter Teba from the closet and showed where the customer had requested curved front quarters (marked in chalk). Traditionally, the Teba fronts are squared off he noted.
After my visit to Gallo, I also walked to Moises Cordova on Velazquez 96, walked in and had a brief exchange with the older gentleman manning the shop. He did not speak English, hence my visit to this tailor was abbreviated.
Incidentally, if you are near the Prado museum and looking for a bite to eat, check out Estado puro (las tapas de Paco Roncero), which is just around the corner from the Palace Hotel and serves excellent tapas. Try the Cantabrian anchovies with tomato and basil on bread and "Ali oli" (potatos in garlic and oil sauce).
- London Lounge thread on Jaime Gallo
Updated March 2010