Paolo Martorano bespoke hopsack jacket: Review

Wednesday, March 8th 2023
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This bespoke jacket was made for me by Paolo Martorano, the tailor in New York I first covered in 2020

It’s particularly significant because of the dearth of bespoke tailors in the US. Although many tailors travel to the US from the UK and Europe, and some now also have full-time bases in New York - Huntsman, Cad Thom Sweeney - for such a big country with many bespoke customers, there are surprisingly few tailors. To an extent it illustrates the importance to such crafts of tradition and a support network. 

There are some, such as Leonard Logsdail, and we’ve covered them in detail on an article here. The comments on that piece, by the way, are just as useful as the article itself. 

But homegrown tailors remain rare, and so I know American readers will be keen to know what I thought of Paolo’s work, now I was having something made.

The answer is that I think the fit and quality are very good. Certainly on a par with a lot of English tailors, and both more consistent and better finished than some of the cheaper options from, for example, Naples. 

We had three fittings in total (one in London, two in New York) and I think there’s a slight issue we need to work on next time in the closeness of the back and/or armhole. I’m not technical enough to know what the issue is - but I know how it feels and, more importantly, know enough to know what I don’t know. 

However, this is a small quibble. The jacket has beautiful, clearly bespoke shape, from the high and close-fitting collar, through the shape of the chest and into the waist and skirt. It is real bespoke (unlike some US offerings) and shows that in every part of the way it is executed. 

The material is a black, cashmere-mix hopsack. I have many things to say about this choice, but one that should be flagged early is it’s difficult to photograph. 

Put in direct light, it looks wrinkled where it isn’t; put in shadow, you can barely see the shape. Alex and I tried, and this is the best you’re going to get. As I always say though, the images are merely illustrative - there to illustrate written points - and any attempt to judge the fit purely from them is a fool’s errand. 

The other things I have to say about the cloth are more fun, less technical. 

The hopsack is beautiful, soft to the touch but without apparently sacrificing much of the sharpness of a regular hopsack. Paolo was wearing one when we met, and it convinced me to choose that over a regular navy merino. Unfortunately it was a vintage length and no other mill offers a cashmere-blend hopsack as far as I'm aware. 

The colour choice I’m less sure about. Of course, I’ve plunged headlong into black in recent years, and this does seem like a natural extension. But I have the feeling my black tweed might be easier to wear. 

Plus the navy mesh jacket I have from Ettore de Cesare does need to be replaced - it was my first piece from him and isn’t really a style I’d pick now, even if it wasn’t pretty tight. 

I went into colours I like with black jackets on that tweed article, so won’t go through them all again here, but some of them don’t work as well with the sharp hopsack - the browns and greens in more casual materials like corduroy, for example. 

Paolo, by the way, disagrees with me here and thinks black is just as versatile as navy, with the bonus of being less pedestrian. The latter might be driven the greater popularity of navy blazers in the US, compared to the UK; but the former is just a style difference: Paolo would wear this with dark jeans and with cords and chukkas, where I wouldn't.

But returning to Paolo (above). When we had our first fitting in London, I was a little concerned. 

The jacket was cut big, almost everywhere, with the intention to get the balance right and then take it in everywhere. I always emphasise that tailors operate in different ways and the only thing that matters is what works for them, but you’re always a little assured when the fit is close from the very start. 

Fortunately it all worked out, and when we met in New York you could see the jacket had that perfect balance - when you unbutton it, the two sides stay hanging close together (a matter of balance front and back as much as left and right). 

I should also say that Paolo made me a pair of trousers right after that first fitting, and they were superb. Actually, two - he wanted to show me his usual style, which is high rise, double pleated, wider in the leg and with a lapped side seam. 

Those fit well, but weren’t my style. They’ve gone to a good home, while the other pair - in a four-ply high-twist grey/brown from Drapers’ Ascot bunch - will be worn a lot this summer.  

The shape of the jacket is really lovely, which of course is partly driven by Paolo’s house style and partly by my preferences. 

The shoulder is wide, just off my natural shoulder point. There is padding, but only to square the shoulder, not to lift it - there is no padding at the neck, it’s gradually added as you move towards the sleevehead. 

The lapel is wide but not dramatically so (perhaps not noticeable even, to most people), with a little belly. The notch is set a little lower than most ready-made brands, but not to the point of being stylised; I like the fact the gorge points squarely at the shoulder, not the chest or the ears.

There is a little drape in the chest, as Paolo likes, but the fit through the back is quite close, again as Paolo likes. We let this out a little bit after our final fitting, but as I mentioned earlier on, it might need a little bit more.

It’s understandable that a bespoke tailor wants to cut a clean back. It looks so much nicer, especially when the jacket is going to be photographed and pored over in public. But really the style of a bespoke garment is in the shape of the back and chest, the gentle waist suppression and kick into the skirt. It’s not worth sacrificing comfort for that back to be a little closer to the skin. 

The finishing is of a very high standard. Fine buttonholes, lovely taste in the choice of buttons. Though I’m not sure I’d have a pen pocket next time, just because it makes the cut in the cloth through the inbreast pocket more obvious. 

Paolo, as with most people in New York, is not a cutter but works with a dedicated cutter and coatmaker, and I met the cutter during my second fitting - it’s lovely to see the gentle little arguments between people when they discuss the subtleties of bespoke. 

The cutter spent most of his career working with Rafael Raffaelli, and we talked about the influence of different traditions on New York tailoring - many of whom saw Savile Row as the zenith, but came from Italy and had their own traditions too. Many liked a particularly low, droopy gorge for instance. 

They all had to be versatile though, and this gentleman had also worked for Bill Fioravanti, who liked a shoulder that was very different to Raffaelli: “So padded! You could play [American] football in them!” in his words.

Paolo feels that there is a new American tradition to be forged here: something that is definitely not Neapolitan, but not Savile Row either, building on that Italian/New York look that the city's tailors became known for, but updated and refined.

Paolo has moved showrooms since our first visit, though still in the same building. It’s a nice, cosy apartment: you walk through a office hung with fittings (always check out the fittings for inspiration) into the fitting room. 

He’s also still accompanied by Tom Mastronardi, which is a bonus. Tom was with Paolo at Paul Stuart and has excellent taste - I don’t dress in the same style of tailoring as him, but would still always take his advice. Few tailors have someone good like that. 

I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be using Paolo a lot going forward, just because the location makes it inconvenient and he’s not offering something dramatically different to tailors in the UK. 

But then, that’s not what US readers want anyway. They’ll want a good, real bespoke tailor in the US that makes a suit that brings out the full potential of bespoke. And on this evidence, that’s what Paolo Martorano does. 

Cloth is a vintage Super 150s/cashmere hopsack from Standeven. From a current bunch, Paolo would use Drapers 'Jackets & Solaire' bunch for hopsack, though there is no cashmere blend.

Price was $5200 including VAT, which is the starting price for a jacket. Suits start at $7500, trousers $2200. 

Red Rabbit pin and black rayon scarf from Bryceland's. Cotton/linen shirt from D'Avino, grey flannel trousers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury. Below, Paolo with guitarist John Pizzarelli

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Il Pennacchio

Unfortunately it was a vintage length and no other mill offers a cashmere-blend hopsack as far as I’m aware. 

Di Pray does, if I’m not mistaken.


Hi Simon, what other navy hopsack cloth would you recommend? I’m having a hard time finding a good one. Any suggestions would greatly help.


I have a nice navy hopsack from the Caccioppoli spring summer jacketing bunch. 280gsm. Worth a look.


There are some really nice heavier hopsacks in Bateman and Ogden’s Apollo bunch (430 grams). They have two nice dark blues, one a classic navy (AA1) and one more midnight (AA2).

My blazer is made from a hopsack from Harrison’s Universal bunch, and I am also really happy with it. At 465 grams it is a bit too heavy to wear in late spring or summer though.

If you want something more like a mesh or mock leno, there are also a few nice ones in Smith’s Finmeresco bunch.

Martin du Toit

Hi Simon
Thanks for another interesting article.
You comment that it’s is difficult to photograph as the fabric is black. This is clear to see, but if I may it would have been better had you not been wearing a scarf of similar colour. This makes the shirt collar invisible in the shots of the back, and barely visible in the shots from the front.
Thus, the overall look is very black everywhere with little if any contrast, making it all but impossible to see anything by way of shape.
Hope this makes sense.

Martin du Toit

Well it’s the first 6 photos that I’m referring to.

Ian F

Sorry Simon, but I have to agree with Martin. If this had been a style piece the scarf would have been fine but as the collar and lapel line are so important in assessing a coat’s fit, the wearing of a scarf here obscures these. When added to the difficulties posed by the cloth in your efforts to obtain clear images I feel the whole presentation would have been much more useful without the scarf. 

Lindsay McKee

Simon, great to see another bespoke review. That jacket is beautiful and I wish you health to enjoy.
You interestingly, mention the Ascot brown/grey bunch for one of the trouser pairs you had made. Can you recall the swatch number of the Ascot bunch, if possible? The 6-ply seems quite heavy for Summer, I assume albeit that would work fine in a High Twist fabric like the Ascot bunch.
What was the weight of the Cloth for that jacket?

Many thanks
Lindsay McKee

Lindsay McKee

Can you confirm the code for the 6-ply at your able convenience please.

Lindsay McKee

Many thanks

Prince Florizel of Bohemia

According to Drapers website, 18056 is 4-ply.


Having followed your blog for many years it was nice to read a review of a jacket.
I recall in earlier years it was nothing but reviews.
So I read this thinking how I viewed the jacket and the review differently from when I busted used to read them.
For example at one time I would have commented the waist needs to be slimmer to produce a more V-shaped silhouette.
But now having had bespoke myself I understand the point about comfort.

I particularly noted you say “ It’s not worth sacrificing comfort for that back to be a little closer to the skin. ”…. This seems to be be a ‘thing’ on Instagram with models often standing like statues . A certain Spanish ‘tailor’ seems to specialise in this “spray painted on” effect (sigh).

The cloth gives an appearance of creasing like linen , from the photos , but I wouldn’t fuss about the colour. I think most men are happy not to stand out and that grey with black (slimming) look would be a default for most men.

The price …over $5000 …. I can recall reviewed jackets being circa £2000 (back in the day).
Alas inflation and £/$ !


I have to say I am a bit confused about this one.
The black colour, the fact you are wearing it with flannels clearly indicates it is a winter jacket. However, the hopsack weave would let the cold air wind pass through, so I wonder how practical it is.
I reckon the black tweed was more coherent.
Besides that, great looking jacket


So would consider this an all-seasons jacket ?
It’s true, I hadn’t thought about it as an evening piece, even though I almost pulled the trigger on a black linen dinner jacket last year.


Great looking jacket! Paolo is a great tailor.
Black is one of those colours that people (including myself) aspire to wear, but the jury is still out whether it’s actually that useful. In New York or any metropolitan though it would definitely fit in.
May I ask what that thing on your lapel is though?

SE Londoner

Simon, I am having a navy hopsack db jacket made right now. I have looked through your past posts on trousers to go with hopsack jackets but I’m not sure what you’d definitely recommend. Now I’m in my mid 40s I tend to wear jackets with ties, even in the summer, which I assume affects the choice. Do you think it’s better to go with smart cotton trousers, or lighter wool? And could you recommend a London shop to find whatever you recommend (I can’t afford bespoke trousers at this point). Many thanks.

SE Londoner

Thanks very much Simon.


I find your move towards more black interesting, in a way somewhat European Continentalish. When will we see you in a black worsted superfine-wool suit?



I am not sure that one can objectively say that a navy or charcoal is better in all respects in a business setting.

This seems to me mainly a question of culture. Before starting reading your fabulous website, I was quite unaware that black suits come with a certain baggage in England / America. When you scroll, for example, homepages of reputable Italian business law firms you will see that quite a lot of lawyers wear black suits, or very dark charcoal ones bordering on black.

Apart from geography, it also seems that the field of business plays some importance. In my field, business law, I would estimate that black is the second most used colour, after charcoal (dark grey), while navy is not as common. Even in England, barristers and judges wear a black outfit in court, even though this is of course a very traditional one you could not wear on the street.


Hi Simon,
Just wanted to pick up on your comments around your first fitting. I similarly have just had a first fitting at a reputable Savile Row house that you have used on several occasions but was somewhat concerned that the fit across both jacket and trousers was quite off (much too big in most places). I gave them the benefit of the doubt and hope things will be much better by the second fitting but how much of an alarm bell is this usually and how would you approach things at the second fitting if fit is not much improved?
Separately, aren’t Paolo’s prices actually higher than most London tailors? What’s driving that?
Thanks for the help!


Looks like a great jacket! How can you tell if the armhole is too large and should be taken in during the fittings? I feel like I always say the armhole is alright if it’s not too tight but I have no idea if the armhole can be taken in or not.


Hi Simon,

Lovely jacket, and fantastic to see a bespoke review. I look forward to more!

I wonder: You’ve often spoken about how with separate jackets it’s important to make sure that they don’t look like one half of a suit. I’m interested in your thoughts on how this jacket achieves that, and generally how many of the style hallmarks of the blazer/sports jacket (no or little roping, lighter more casual buttons, perhaps patch pockets, etc.) a jacket should retain, so that it doesn’t risk looking like a suit coat.



Thanks Simon. Makes sense!


Can you clarify where the 5 buttonholes are? I assume 1 lapel, 2 front, and then 1 working buttonhole on each sleeve?


Now who says black jackets can’t look good? 😉
A question off topic: Did you have to hem your Rubato Jeans when you received them?


Hi simon: 

Thanks for yet another timely post. A question for you and I hope other readers will feel free to chime in.

I’m in New York, contemplating having a MTM jacket made by a manufacturer in the UK. As traveling to the UK for one or two fittings would blow my budget, and I’m uncomfortable taking my own measurements (even with help), the manufacturer proposed sending me a toile. 

Does this make any sense, and if so how likely is it that one of the New York-based tailors you mentioned would consider fitting me so that the toile can be sent back to the UK?

Or am I better off waiting and saving my pennies until I have plans to visit the UK?

Or just buying my usual size off the rack?

Many thanks.

Il Pennacchio

Simon’s right that it would be better to see a tailor in person, either NY-based or visiting.
That being said, I have gotten good results doing exactly what you’re trying to do by engaging the services of an alterations-only tailor. In New York, two that come to mind are the Tailoring Room and Jimmy Sam.


Simon, how would you compare Paolo versus other US tailors, maybe Alan Flusser in particular given the NY base?


If one only focuses on fit – is it worth getting a bespoke unstructured jacket compared to an off-the-rack jacket, generally speaking?
My guess is that it’s more important when buying a structured jacket while an unstructured one is more casual and therefore the fit doesn’t need to be perfect.
I don’t own one but planning to buy one.


Ok, got it! Thanks!


Is it fair to say that Paolo is a fitter and not a tailor? Does he cut, sew or draft patterns?


Excellent cut and proportions, I really like the shoulders, lapels width and length, the buttoning point. And the black looks fresh and chic (relative the all the “gentry” brownish-green palette) – as per Alan Flusser.
I own your book Bespoke Style and have to say I enjoy this one, alongside the masterpieces from Caraceni, and Panico, the most


It may be great tailoring. Can’t tell from this distance. I have been in the clothing business for over 40 years. Sold Polo before anyone really knew who he was, no Polo shops, only in small specialty stores, Hilton, HSM, Luciano Barbera, Oxxford, Brioni, Zegna, your lapels are too wide. Balance. May be the width of Polo 1980, but everything needs balance; shirt collar, tie width, pant rise and leg width.


I like much about this jacket. Really good to see some bespoke pieces reviewed again. As you note above, that’s why many of us started coming here. Was also interested to see the comments. I know, looking back, that a black suit was a terrible idea for work – and I agree with you, Simon, that navy and dark grey are much more the thing. But it’s interesting to hear that others don’t have the same feeling. Though unconvinced that the jury is still out in New York, and utterly unconvinced that Continental Europeans would wear it. (And ‘Continental Europeans’ is a big bag. The French dress one way, the Italians another, the Germans and Luxembourgouise another, and the Dutch another. Indeed, I wonder whether there’s a language thing – some Germanic speakers wear dramatic window-pane suits to meetings. With brown shoes and colourful socks! I kind of admire them for it.)

Commenting on this comment because one of the things I liked was the lapel width. Indeed, I might have liked a lower button even – give the lapel chance to flow down more gradually. And then is the skirt a bit shorter at the back than the front or is that just the photos? How do Huntsman do it? Of course they miss the second button – but their lapels look longer and also they have loads of skirt. Maybe if there was more length to play with at the back the tailor could have given you more space while still giving a nice shape?

Though one point that Jim made was intriguing. Would the trousers the tailor made in his style have been more in proportion with the jacket? Would have been nice to see what the tailor thought worked best (that’s what most buyers will get) before you passed them on – is there any chance you could get them back and do photos with ‘how the tailor would have had me’ and ‘how I would have me’ as a contrast? This may give us a sense of how the tailor thinks and how you think and give us the chance to choose what we like.

Indeed, this may be a fun thing, no? Give a few personalities (tailors, influencers, wife, best mate) a brief. I’m going to wear this jacket. I’m going to a museum in the morning, for lunch with some friends, then I’m going to do a bit of shopping in the afternoon before dinner then I catch a show. The weather forecast is for rain. I don’t want to go home to change. How should I dress? Other than that, the rest is up to you. Rifle through my (huge) wardrobe, style me as you will. How do wife, tailor, best mate solve the problem? How does Simon solve the problem? It’s a real problem – I’ve had to do similar.

It was only a little padding – but I think it looked good on you. Though, as you mentioned, the photos are difficult. On the 4th photo, it looks like your left shoulder is dropped. On the 6th, it looks like your right. I wondered at first whether you’d had one of the pictures flipped.

Anyhow, I’ve learned a lot from your site, and am grateful.


Thanks, Simon.

I wondered about the length – mathematically it must be. But my Huntsman jackets come down to roughly the same place on my hands as that one does on your hands. But I have abnormally long chimpanzee arms, so maybe that’s it! (I looked on their website. The RTW jackets seem to come down to a similar place on the models’ hands. But also the buttoning point seems slightly higher / lapels shorter than on my own. I guess, without my realising it, that the tailor has taken advantage of, or disguised, the length of my arms. I read your website and learn things, and have developed fairly strong tastes, but at the end of the day, I trust him to do what he knows better than me how to do.)

With most people’s wardrobes it would be hard – but with yours it could be quite easy (unless much of it is in storage). If I thought grey flannel trousers would go with your jacket choice, I could be confident you had some. And I could even search the website and say ‘the grey flannel trousers you wore on this page, the black suede shoes you wore in that photo, the watch from this article, the scarf from that one and do you have any mid-blue ties…’ I even know what umbrellas you own in case the forecast is accurate! But it did strike me that you may find the exercise a bit weird – a bit like a Barbie doll being dressed by children…

robert e gault

I am fortunate as I have a great tailor close to me that is younger than I am so unless he wins the lottery and flees to warmer climes I should be good. I have a family doctor like this as well. What else does a man need? My shoemaker is older than I so could be in trouble there.

Kamikar German

I love your comment. So, next to ypour tailor, doctor and shoemaker you need to add the hairdresser & dentist. Cheers!


I find Paul Stuart prices borderline ridiculous from a basic quality/value perspective and the price of this jacket seems to be following the same path, no? Compared to your Neapolitan and Saville Row commissions it doesn’t look anywhere near same level of fit and finish you would expect for the money? And it might be photography but the left sleeve looks short/odd maybe?


I made the Paul Stuart comparison as I think the tailor spent time there before striking out on his own. Looks like he took the Paul Stuart pricing model with him perhaps…


How does the fit and make compare with that of Whitcomb & Shaftesbury? It’s hard to judge from the photos, but the fit on the W&S jackets looks significantly better on you — and at a much lower price to boot.

Max Alexander

Simon what do you mean when you describe the price as including VAT? Are you referring to the combined NYS and NYC sales tax? Or did you get some kind of refund on the state and city sales tax as a non-US resident, then have to pay UK VAT on reentry? I’m guessing you’re using the term as shorthand for sales tax although they are not the same —even if the end result in both cases is a surcharge. Thanks in advance.


“The navy mesh jacket I have from Ettore de Cesare does need to be replaced – it was my first piece from him and isn’t really a style I’d pick now, even if it wasn’t pretty tight.” Can you please elaborate? Do still recommend the fabric?
I found your mesh jacket a beautiful piece. Also I can’t imagine black jacket can replace a navy blazer.


Do the sleeves need a bit of taper? The left sleeve, in particular, seems a bit too open at the wrist. Or maybe it’s just the photo, which (as you mentioned) cannot be used to judge the finer points.


‘Agree that an extreme taper at the wrist would look odd.