(NEW YORK) Tucked atop a relatively petite building on 57th Street off Fifth Ave. lies a bespoke connoisseur’s veranda-detailed haute spot in the form of Bellucci Napoli, a custom tailoring outfit by Naples native Nedo Bellucci started less than a decade ago. What’s the trick to Bellucci’s trade? We got the immaculately fitted scoop!
BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV
What’s the backstory of Bellucci Napoli?
It started with a dream. I’ve always loved fashion, and I always wanted to move to New York. Love is always a great component in making a dream come true! I met my wife, Benedicte, in Naples: She needed a place to stay for one night, and voila! Eight years later, our love is still growing. I started this business as well eight years ago, when no one was talking about custom or bespoke.
How has the biz changed since then?
Many naysayers accused me of being crazy to think I could base my life on [bespoke tailoring]. Now, I’ve finally been proven right: Everyone has developed a taste for experiencing individualized and personalized things. A lot of hard work and sacrifice went into making it happen—I made this business with zero investment.
I moved to New York with $1,000 in my pocket. I had to work six days a week in restaurants to pay the bills. One shirt at a time, Bellucci Napoli came about.
Who is the Bellucci Napoli man?
Anyone who is already a gentlemen, or is interested in learning to become one. Anyone who likes to be well dressed and has finally understood that baggy clothing is just for losers! The Bellucci Napoli man is someone willing to experience the feel of a new fit.
Do you lure customers away from any competitors with your designs?
Someone who is familiar with the Neapolitan fit from other brands such as Kiton and Attolini and wants the same quality and fit at a better price.
How did the brand’s name come about?
We wanted a name that would automatically connect our brand to our Neapolitan sartorial tradition. In addition, it’s a long story, and one that I inherited from my father and the men who preceded him—the Bellucci name can be traced back to the Belluccis who moved to Naples from Perugia. So to everyone who asks if I’m related to the beautiful and brilliant Monica Bellucci? I reply “yes, apparently!” If we were to look back through our genealogy we might discover that we are in fact related. I try to avoid using my first name, Nedo. At first I did that just to be discreet; now I do so as an intentional branding strategy.
How and when did your beautiful 57th Street atelier come about?
The story and concept is based in the old Neapolitan palazzo. It’s also inspired by my own experiences: before founding Bellucci Napoli and developing the company, I worked in the hospitality business. I owned a nightclub and a restaurant, I was in finance, also worked as a communication trainer, and lastly in telecommunications. After working in so many fields I recognized that all had a common thread, that of connection people and making them feel comfortable around me and each other. I feel very grateful that this role. So here we are in a place where I can show first of all my design skills, and where I can welcome anyone, offering them an exclusive experience in life, from style to execution, to impeccable personalized service and, finally entertainment. It makes my day when I see them leave with a smile.
Are there any unique qualities to being bespoke in 2013?
In a word: versatility. I design what I call ‘style combinations,’ pairing tailored jackets with two trouser options in order to provide clients a unified look suitable for multiple occasions. This is why Neapolitan tailoring is, truly, the perfect choice for versatile men: It gives them the freedom to dress according to their needs while maintaining a stylish, tailored look. That’s how I came to design an exquisite jean-cut pant, available in 250 shades of cotton and in a range of weights that include corduroy and velvet. It’s one of our best selling items, and a personal favorite of mine!
What else sets Bellucci Napoli apart?
We offer an exclusive 24-hour bespoke shirt service. We’re the only tailor in the world to do so! A client can be measured and have a shirt made in New York in one day. Through our bespoke shirt delivery service, we work with many travelers too who are finally able to buy a Neapolitan bespoke shirt on their short trip to N.Y. These are mostly Brazilian and Russian; I also have clients from England, Venezuela, the Middle East and even Australia.
What’s your clientele like?
Our youngest client is eight years old, and our oldest are over 82, including Rupert Murdoch. Overall, they’re primarily very international. I have a very long list of French clients, which I’m very proud of, since, as everybody knows, the French can be very picky. Their patronage means I do a great job. Most are originally from America, who despite their reputation for a limited sense of style, are great students. When they learn something new and beautiful, they have this amazing capability to embody the best, becoming loyal followers and keen experts in the art of tailored clothing. This is what I like and appreciate the most about living and working in this country.
Who’s your style muse?
I have many! Marcello Mastroianni taught me how to wear a fedora; the hat makes man, on a whole other level. Justin Timberlake has a great sense of style, and Johnny Depp, of course. I’m actually surprised to see that not many stars wear Neapolitan style suiting, actually. I guess it’s my mission to introduce it to them!
How wide is Belluci Napoli’s reach?
Our flagship is in N.Y., and we have a showroom in Naples where my brother Luca runs daily production activities. I also have a place in Atlanta where I go four times a year.
Are you a fan of the ATL?
I love Atlanta! The guys there have a very interesting fashion culture and sense of style.
Who’s your dream designer collab?
For a young designer, the dream is to work with everyone. If I had to pick one designer, it’d be John Varvatos. When I’m casual, I like to try new things and I could easily be a John Varvatos man. I hope I’ll get to meet him one day!
Back to your Manhattan atelier! What kinds of luxe events have you hosted there?
We are trying to be very selective, and very proactive, too. I did a pop-up dinner with Zeruko [Spanish restaurant] because my good friend Veronica asked to do it as a last minute favor for her when they had an issue with their prior location. Despite a string of last minute complications, it was amazing! We mostly host our own events: we have a series called Bespoke&series, which we’re developing to eventually launch officially, including Bespoke&Dine, Bespoke&Wine, Bespoke&Tea, Bespoke&Poker. It’s a mix of cultural, shopping, and fun happenings catered to a selected audience, with some entertainment thrown in to keep it lively.
What kind of events do you hope to host there in the future?
Charity, for sure. I’m actively involved in different charity projects; I’d love to use my place for that. I love what my brother Unik Ernest is doing for his country in Haiti, and I’m honored to be part of the consulting members. My good friends Pierre Thome’ de Souza and Veronica Cabezas have asked me to host a fund raiser for a big movie starring Halle Berry, where Bellucci Napoli would provide a platform for producers and investors to come together. I am thrilled to meet Halle!
Where do you see Bellucci Napoli in a decade?
I’m a dreamer and a doer, so I could see myself opening a ground-floor store, maybe on Madison Avenue. In the
long term, I see Bellucci as a multi-line brand focused on quality, fit and lifestyle, attentive to workers rights and benefits. My philosophy for success is for each person, regardless of what position they cover, needs to be gratified and feel part of a project.For this I dream I’d like to have kindergarten for my employees’ kids, a sailboat in the Mediterranean, nd beach house in the Riviera Maya in Mexico, where my employees can go on vacation! I always want to be surrounded by, and hire, people who wiser than I am. Time will tell what will be of my vision!