Shirtmaker Anna Matuozzo's Neapolitan shop is located on the quiet street of Viale Gramsci. Once outside her building, you ring the doorbell, pass through the doors, and disappear into what feels like a home from yesteryear. The antique furnishings and warmth feel welcoming, and in the main room, the highly prized shirts speak of a kind of tailoring that approaches fine art.
Matuozzo’s firm is very small. Anna does all the cutting herself and four or five family members, including her daughters, do the sewing. Each customer has his own pattern. Whereas most custom shirt makers have pre-designed cuffs and collars, Anna designs many of hers by hand once she has assessed the client’s face, character, and lifestyle.
In addition to the pattern making, there is the handwork that her family is famous for. On her most standard shirts, the buttonholes, armholes, and yoke are all hand stitched. The handmade buttonholes are stable and clean, and the sleeveheads are slightly crunched in the way that Neapolitan tailoring is known for.
A customer can request any level of handwork, however. On one shirt I examined, there were neatly picked, nubby stitches visibly decorating the collar band and yoke. Then there were finer, almost invisible hand sewn stitches that ran up the side seams, down the placket, and across the shoulders. The hems were also hand sewn with a blind stitch, but with enough stitches that you would have thought it was done by machine.
There are a handful of shirt makers left in the world who will make a hand-sewn shirt. Some aren’t any good, and the others have handwork that’s almost indistinguishable from their peers. Matuozzo’s, however, strike me as more distinguished. The stitches are more neatly done and they have gentler, more beautiful character to them. Perhaps for this reason, when I asked who is the best shirt maker in town, almost every tailor I spoke to in Naples said "Anna Matuozzo."