Designer Profile: Gianluca ISAIA

Designer Profile: Gianluca ISAIA

Founded in Naples in the 1920s, Isaia is a luxury lifestyle brand for men with personality and taste. Isaia’s Italian artisans still handcraft each garment in the Neapolitan sartorial tradition, though now it’s reinterpreted in a contemporary way. At the helm of this exclusive business is Gianluca Isaia, the third-generation CEO, who is famous in the menswear industry for his warmth, charm and creative sense of style. His mission: to help men discover their own personal style in clothing that’s modern, comfortable and very cool. We chatted with Gianluca recently about fashion, business and living life to the fullest.

What are you proudest of?
“That in 2020 we still hold true to our traditions as a family-owned company but are always looking to what’s new and contemporary. I’m also proud that, in my parents’ honor, we’ve launched a School of Tailoring in Casalnuovo near our factory. The school teaches the next generation of tailors the sartorial skills needed to continue the tradition of Napoli.”

To what do you attribute Isaia’s success?
“We live by passion. We take our craftsmanship very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We like to have fun and enjoy life, and it shows in everything we do. It’s important to me that all our associates wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work.”

Can you discuss changes in suit styles for 2020? After getting as tight as they can get, are fits loosening up a bit?
“Because we serve countries around the world, we have models that vary in fit. And while we’re always experimenting with new initiatives, we believe our current fits cover the needs of our customers. So we’re not implementing any drastic fit changes at the moment. Globally, our customers appreciate Isaia’s approach: traditional tailoring with a contemporary twist. I want them to always feel comfortable in our garments.”

So what’s new for Summer 2020, and what will you be wearing?
“This season, we took inspiration from the colors and décor of the Museum of Capodimonte in Napoli and the green area of the surrounding Real Bosco. We’re showing many incredible variations of pastels. Personally, my spring 2020 wardrobe includes T-shirts with Neapolitan references, knit shirts, foldable jackets to carry on my travels and, of course, sandals!”

What will Isaia’s collection look like for fall 2020?
“It’s inspired by underground Naples, a world of its own that reflects the intense and alluring appeal of the city’s history over the past couple of millennia. Isaia interprets this atmosphere through a palette of dark and earthy tones, inspired by a range of textures.”

Isaia is known for quirky advertising. What’s your objective here?
“We aim to tell stories with our ad campaigns. It’s not about just showing a suit
or jacket that we’re trying to sell. It’s about communicating an idea. One of our most beloved campaigns was one we did in 2008 right after the U.S. stock market crash. It featured a man in a well-designed suit, hunched in a corner crying. It captured the sentiment of the time, showing a ‘real man,’ one who was not afraid to show emotion.”

Could you have been happy in a different line of work?
“I’ve always been passionate about my work and I hope to inspire those I work
with to bring the same level of dedication, creativity and appreciation for Napoli’s
sartorial tradition to everything we do. However, I spend much of my time in
Capri (especially in summer), and I’m always entertaining and hosting. If I had
to choose another career, I would become a hotelier and open a boutique hotel, perhaps on Capri. I’d create an environment where interesting people from all over the world could come and experience the best wines, art, food, etc., in a luxe but eccentric environment.”

How would you describe your personal style?
“Truly my own and a bit irreverent. I often wear sandals with my suits!”

How does Italian style differ from American style?
“It’s all changing now. American men used to be more conservative when it came to silhouette, color, etc., but it’s become more fluid, which is great. American men are becoming more interested in cultivating their own personal style.”

What are your top tips for men to look their best?
“Be comfortable in your own skin. Be confident. Don’t try too hard to be perfect. (There is no such thing!) Make sure your clothing fits you properly. And if you’re not sure—ask for help! Try not to follow any rules, but if you must, heed only those that speak to you and ignore the rest.”