Since its creation by the Italian shirt maker Guglielmo Battistoni in 1946, Battistoni has become a global icon of men’s haute couture. Staying true to its rich heritage of unparalleled quality, every piece sold by this international fashion house is still hand-made in Rome by Italian tailors. eniGma’s Bronwen Mehta spoke to Gianni Battistoni, the son of the late Guglielmo Battistoni, now the house’s Chief of Creation, and Francesco Capodiferro, its CEO, to uncover the secrets behind this luxury brand.
From its very beginning, Battistoni was exceptional. Recalling how the house of Battistoni began, Gianni Battistoni describes how his father created not a retail store, but a holistic luxury experience in Rome. “Situated in an ancient building, the store was a place to discover; a secret location. It became the meeting point of American and Italian culture in the heart of Rome,” he recounts. By the 1960s, Battistoni’s store already had a star-studded clientele, including the likes of Marlon Brando and Kirk Douglas. From the kings of film, Battistoni has since gone on to dress actual royalty, including the king of the Netherlands and members of the Saudi royal family.
While the modern world seems obsessed with efficiency and technology, Battistoni prides itself in maintaining tradition. “We make the shirt the same way it was made a hundred years ago. Italian craftsmanship is about patience and precise attention to detail. It takes a lot of time, something that contrasts with the modern world. Our system focuses on tradition, quality and taste,” Gianni Battistoni explains.
Despite these traditional methods, however, Gianni Battistoni makes it clear that the brand has a timeless appeal, drawing young people into the world of classic luxury. “Young audiences appreciate tradition and quality. Maybe they saw their father or grandfather’s shirts, and they want something like that for themselves,” he explains. Francesco Capodiferro adds that Battistoni’s focus on perfecting the classical look is their strength, stating, “Other brands digress, but we have kept our direction. We always stay in touch with classical elegance. Obviously, we know things evolve. While you can see content evolving in our stores, you can still very easily detect the classical roots.”
Providing exquisite quality lies at the heart of Battistoni’s identity. To Gianni Battistoni, who monitors quality himself, using the finest fabrics is essential. “Typically, you find cotton being mixed with artificial fibre, but we take a lot of care with our fabric and only use pure cotton. The fabric we use is very light, becoming like a second skin. After you wear a Battistoni shirt you can’t go back to another quality,” he proudly exclaims. Capodiferro emphasises that experiencing luxurious quality isn’t just about appearance. “When you dress in Battistoni, you can be sure you are in your best shape. It’s not just a question of dressing up. Your personal and professional life is going to improve, because you feel so much more confident,” he exclaims. Gianni Battistoni seconds this, highlighting that, “The shirt is a key item for a man. The collar is like a frame for a man’s head.”
Since 2015, Battistoni has broadened its horizons, opening stores in London and Los Angeles and holding trunk shows across the world, including in Riyadh, Cannes and Zurich. Gianni explains, “For the trunk shows, we invite a few important customers, take measurements, have the suit hand-crafted in Rome, and then after fittings, we send them the final bespoke suit.” “As for international expansion, we are far from done,” says Capodiferro, adding “We have the intention to open a store in New York and to hold more trunk shows, including in the Middle East.” Battistoni is also developing its women’s line further, “We already have a number of items for women, including silk shirts and cashmere knits. Currently, we are developing a line of women’s blazers that we are very excited about,” Capodiferro shares.
With a rich past and a bright future, this Italian brand has successfully balanced tradition with ambition to create the Battistoni that we see today.