MIDTOWN EAST — A tailor who specializes in crafting custom suits for businessmen is reaching out to a new market — women.
Nedo Bellucci, 33, tailor and owner of Bellucci Napoli, has long offered bespoke suit services to men from his two-floor shop in Midtown, but he decided to start taking on female clients about four months ago because of rising demand.
“A lot of clients’ wives would compliment us on the amazing job done for their husband and complained because we never had an offering for them,” Bellucci said. “With more women in executive positions, custom suiting will soon become a world for women as well.”
At first glance — with shelves and racks of men’s suits, shirts and ties lining the walls — Bellucci’s East 57th Street retail space appears to be a man’s world.
Only a small corner of the retail section is currently reserved for women’s shirts, which start at $175, but that ratio could change as more and more women seek out Bellucci’s tailoring services, he said.
Midtown resident Suelyn Farel, CEO of an international salon chain, was thrilled to discover that Bellucci would make custom clothing for her.
“Suits are a uniform for us 'business people,' and men have been our core demographic for the 'power suit' for a long, long time," Feral said. "I was jealous of the initials on men’s shirts. I have always been an ‘initial girl’ and thought, why not me too? This is not just for men.”
Farel, 44, has long recognized the benefits of custom-made clothing. She’s been getting different pieces of her wardrobe — including her shirts, skirts and fur — custom made over the past 15 years.
“I invest in work clothes,” Farel said. “Historically, I like clothes that are not readily available. It’s more appealing to women to have the ability to buy something custom made, clothing that empowers them — like couture, but in an accessible way.”
Bellucci’s women’s shirts and suits do not imitate men’s clothing in women’s sizes, Bellucci said. Instead, a completely different pattern is used to construct women’s clothing due to differences in style preference and body shape.
“A woman’s body is more difficult to work when we talk about custom,” Bellucci said. “Women usually like fitted clothing and this makes for more work. Pants are the easy part compared to shirts and blazers.”
Hell’s Kitchen resident Veronica Cabezas, a partner of a consulting firm, recently sought out Bellucci’s services for a shirt-dress that could meet the demands of her curvy body shape, she said.
“I have curves, which I embrace, but I also want to feel elegant and chic, so finding the proper balance was key,” Cabezas said. “When you buy at the store, as high-end as the brand might be, you are always compromising on some level. With a bespoke shirt, there are no compromises.”
Cabezas, 33, has commissioned several shirts from Bellucci, but one of her favorites is a blue shirt-dress with cropped sleeves, which she said has become a staple to her office wardrobe.
“I like to just roll out of bed and have something very easy to put on,” Cabezas said. “It’s professional, but also really feminine. I’ve tried Saks and Theory, and they have them, but their styles were all too similar. There was nothing different.”
Bellucci lets customers choose from a variety of fabrics including printed silks, cotton and lace. Clients may also request creative twists on the traditional shirt design, such as a cutout in the front of the blouse, trimmed sleeves or color blocking, to name a few.
“In all clothing I look first for fabric, second for construction, and third, for how it fits my body,” Farel said. “If more women, from size zero to 20, would know that they have the option to take the ‘magazine look’ and have it applied to their body, it would be remarkable.”
A custom-made shirt for women takes about one to two weeks to produce, and more if the chosen fabric isn’t in stock, Bellucci said. Suits can take up to two months to produce, and prices start at $2,000 for the jacket and $425 for the skirt or pants.
The tailor begins the process by measuring the client. Then the measurements are turned over to Bellucci’s resident master shirt maker for crafting. More than one fitting may be necessary for certain clothing types, such as jackets, Belluci said.
Custom clothing requires women "to change their mindset,” Bellucci said.
“Custom clothing requires patience and planning to achieve long-term satisfaction, which is different from ready-to-wear, which achieves instant gratification," he said.
“[Ready-to-wear] is often worn a few times because they [go] out of fashion," Bellucci added. "Custom clothing, on the other hand, can be part of your wardrobe for more than a decade if done well.”
In addition to the retail and fitting areas, Bellucci Napoli, on the ninth and 10th floors of 5 E. 57th St., also includes a lounge and terrace on the lower level. The shop originally opened in the city in 2007, and opened another location in Naples, Italy, in 2010. The fitting and retail portion of Bellucci is open by appointment only.
“The experience is really special,” Farel said.
“To enter a multi-story townhouse on 57th Street with outdoor space, be offered a glass of champagne, relaxing with one of the best views in Manhattan, and then be fitted for a shirt or skirt…well…what else can I say?”