FEATURE: Luxury Retail>de Corato

JMS-INSIDE FASHION-ARTICLE

A COMMUNITY OF QUALITY: de Corato – FINAL DRAFT 

Title:  de Corato The Fitter

Words: 2078

GIUSEPPE DE CORATO APPROVED

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Fitted precisely to the center seam of Manhattan’s luxury apparel epicenter on East 60th Street, one block east of Central Park South and fifty feet west of Madison Avenue, resides a small, but visually crisp, aesthetically pleasing 1500 square foot men’s apparel boutique named de Corato. For men on safari for quality apparel the store is easy to miss, because its humble façade is dwarfed by its looming, and sometimes overwrought neighbor, the historic fashion department store, BARNEYS. But, for any man who does find de Corato for the first time, and who grasps its leather-wrapped door pull to enter the warmly lighted shop, de Corato will welcome that man into a stupendously chic, classically rooted and well-stocked room. Everything a man can wear on his body across four seasons of any year, whether in Capri, at a state dinner, in the boardroom or in Old Trafford or Yankee Stadium, is here.

The key to unlocking the treasures held in this little Italian jewel box is to understand that its owner, Giuseppe de Corato, is a clothier of men, yes, but more so, a true merchant and specialty retailer, for Mr. de Corato is most of all a transformer of men’s perceptions of what it means—and takes—to be well-dressed.

de Corato is a ‘fit’ store. It makes men handsome by grafting onto their bodies layers of intensely handsome sartorial skin—outfits—from fibers of merino, cashmere, camel, vicuna, silk, sea island and poplin, and from the skins of deer, calf, pig, cow and goat.

“We offer the best of Italy,” says Giuseppe de Corato of his product. “We’re Italian. I’m Italian. I offer what I know.”

What de Corato knows, perhaps best of all, is the answer to the decades-old question millions have asked: Why do Italians look so good in clothes? He exhibits the answer in his merchandising philosophy. Mr. de Corato vigilantly styles his apparel offerings, across all classifications, in ways other competing retailers in his market can’t, due to corporate cultures or client resistance: through shape and fit.

“We try to dress our customers like true Italian men dress,” says Mr. de Corato. “That is to say, men who like to mix their clothing, choosing from the best companies in the marketplace. Some people think we’re a Neapolitan brand, but it’s not so. Neapolitans are famous for shirts and tailored clothing, but other cities are famous for other products. For example, the best pants are from Parma, Venezia or Milano. The best belts are from [the] Emilia Romagna region, and best outerwear from Veneto and Lombardi. We select the best that Italy has to offer by mixing products from different regions. All those brands have in common the style and elegance that come from our collective Italian heritage. Our fabrics and fits are exclusive to our store. Yes, you can find some of our vendors…Incotex, Rota, Marinella, Attolini, Fedeli, Finamore and Moorer in other stores, but our shapes are ours alone.”

de Corato’s shapes are trim, close and neat, because Giuseppe de Corato—the modern-thinking merchant—is constantly exploring new ways to evolve his, and his client’s perceptions of fit. “We’re working now on trimming sleeve diameters and shortening jacket and suit coat lengths,” says de Corato. “We’re interested always and only in proper clothes; clothes that are well designed, well-made and that fit well.”

The clothes of de Corato fit close to the body – like skin. Think about that for a moment. When is the last time you went to your tailor, or your doctor, and asked to have your skin “let out”? Never. That’s because your skin is the ultimate self-altering garment. It fits you perfectly—custom!—from birth at least through middle age, and often times longer. Your skin is discreet, it’s adaptable, it’s perfectly tailored by nature, and it’s even water-repellent. de Corato believes, especially when it comes to tailored clothing, that apparel fit closer to the body—not tight, but closer—is apparel more sympathetic to the body’s musculature and form, and thus, a more handsome body is created when covered by it.

Like a cosmetic surgeon, Giuseppe de Corato offers men customization of product from almost every vendor he carries. This isn’t a “trunk show”-style perk, offered bi-annually over a three day in-store “event” such as one finds at larger stores, and then, usually only with tailored clothing, but rather, is a daily and regular occurrence. “Incotex jeans and outerwear aren’t available for customization,” says Mr. de Corato, “and sometimes, of course, fabrics or colors expire, but we can customize almost everything, from knitwear to suits to trousers to shirts and more.”

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It wasn’t always like this. Giuseppe de Corato’s boutique used to have a different name, and in support of, and in service to that name, a different purpose. de Corato used to be called Luigi Borrelli.

“I owned the physical Luigi Borrelli stores in the United States,” says Mr. de Corato, “and I had the exclusive license to use the Borrelli name and logo for all the Americas until 2030. Contractually, I was obligated to buy shirts, ties and tailored clothing directly from Borrelli in Naples, but of course, I also had the freedom to buy [knits, belts, socks, outer wear] from other suppliers onto which the Borrelli label was sewn. When Borrelli started having [legal] trouble [in Italy], which would eventually lead to the dissolution of the brand, I decided to change the store to de Corato.”

With an established business supported by men who had come to his East 60th boutique for years to purchase the architecturally superior hand-sewn shirts and ties from Neapolitan manufacturer, Luigi Borrelli, and all the apparel to surround them with, Giuseppe de Corato’s metamorphosis into a multi-brand retailer from a mono-branded one was fairly simple. He knew what his clients expected from him, knew what he wanted to present to them, and knew where to find it at market.

“I just followed my dream,” says Mr. de Corato. From the looks of his boutique on any given day, it’s apparent Giuseppe de Corato rarely, if ever, has nightmares.

There is an old joke about poorly-designed clothes which says they’re usually made in colors not found in nature. If true, those clothes—and this writer has never seen them—must truly be astonishing in their hideousness. Well, this writer has seen the clothes in de Corato, and the colors Mr. de Corato merchandises—and patterns too—are not only found in nature, but seemingly, in nature’s sweetest spots and moments. Rarely does a men’s store present itself so consistently and harmoniously as a whole when it comes to color and pattern as de Corato does. Mr. de Corato’s store is a cornucopia of the most classically masculine hues; blues, grays, tans, browns, creams, greens and violets blossom, wink and peek out at shoppers from what seems every square inch of hanging and folding space.

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Sport shirts hang on the right wall of the store with out-facing-sleeves rolled back to the elbow, animating the garment on the hanger as if it were on an arm, shoulder and back of a man. Trousers, hanging along the left hand wall of the shop are so precisely arrayed it seems a violation to disrupt their rigid at-attention posture on hangers and sweaters, shoes and leather bags sit stacked, or aligned in rows beneath hanging suits and jackets like trophies in an awards case. But to touch any of these beautiful garments, indeed, to pull them off a hanger and fondle them, and to try them on, is encouraged.

“We’re a small boutique,” says Mr. de Corato, “and we have a familiar feel, even to a new customer who we hope will become a client. We’re a clothing store. We want people to know our clothes and to know us. There should never be a feeling of “off limits.”

After all, if a man desires to be made more handsome than he already is, that man needs to touch, and try on de Corato’s offerings. After all, this is a fit store, a specialty store in the truest sense of the term, and a very special place in which a man can attire himself. All of this is de Corato.