My partner went to Brioni and all I got was a £150 T-shirt

One of the world's most exclusive suit makers seems to be feeling the pinch, reports Nina Lakhani

Presidents and kings have shot their well-cut cuffs; the cream of Hollywood slip their hands discreetly into the immaculately sewn pockets. Brioni, arguably the world's most exclusive – not to say expensive – suit maker, has been worn by everyone from Nelson Mandela to George Bush, James Bond to the Rockefellers.

Now, for men of more modest means but with a taste for luxury, the Italian fashion house is branching out into, well, T-shirts.

Wide in the shoulders, narrow in the waist, Brioni's bespoke suits are not for the typical male fashion fan. A top-of-the-range two-piece will set the buyer back an eye-watering £28,000.

But, as the global downturn continues to bite, Brioni has been left with little choice: it has become the latest, and perhaps most unlikely, fashion house to cross into leisure wear. It joins its compatriots Armani and Canali in an attempt to appeal to a wider market through designer jeans, polo shirts and sweaters. Of course, with hand-stitched embroidered detail, Brioni won't be producing any old T-shirt, and at £150 garments are unlikely to end up in the bargain bin.

Brioni has been forced to join the rag trade as the luxury goods sector suffers in the recession. Clothing has been hit hardest and quality menswear sales are expected to fall by 15 per cent this year, according to the international consulting firm Bain & Company.

The Savile Row tailor Henry Poole said yesterday that regular customers were coming in a little less frequently and perhaps buying two suits rather than the usual four.

Ozwald Boateng, the British designer credited with introducing Savile Row bespoke tailoring to a new generation including President Obama and stars such as Will Smith and Jamie Foxx, has seen customers swapping bespoke for made-to-measure suits. Tim Quayle, a spokesman for Boateng, said: "Last season was probably our best season ever for ready-to-wear pieces, and though people still want investment pieces that will last for years and years and years, they are perhaps moving it down a level from what they used to buy."

It is unlikely that the Italian suit maker, established just after the Second World War, will foray too far into the high street, however. Brioni's tailors train in-house for four years before they are allowed even to handle fabric for clients. The very best suits are pinstriped with white gold.

By the 1950s, the house of Brioni had become synonymous with elegance, luxury and daring sophistication, boasting Clark Gable, John Wayne and Kirk Douglas as regular customers.

The apogee of its fame was when it became known for dressing the world's most eligible fictional man. Pierce Brosnan introduced Brioni suits to the 007 wardrobe in GoldenEye and passed on the style baton to the new Bond, Daniel Craig. Just days before the release of Casino Royale, Brioni launched a £3,000 Bond-themed tuxedo: each had "James Bond" stitched into its silver lining.

But with the Bond deal lost and in tighter times, the new T-shirt perhaps signals that Brioni realises exclusivity alone doesn't cut it any more.

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

    Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

    £24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

    Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat