When it comes to Italian fashion, and particularly menswear, Florence and Milan have already established themselves as epicenters of style, innovation and trends, two cities not only renowned for their brands and incredible craftsmanship, but also famous for fostering new talents and therefore pushing the menswear envelope.

It was with real curiosity that I flew to Naples at the end of last month to attend MITBRANDS, an unconventional fair blending fashion showrooms with artistic exhibitions. Designed to promote local brands and their impressive savoir-faire, in partnership with Regione Campania, ‘Meet Italian Brands’ is in fact an international networking event where fashion buyers, designers and consultants from Europe, Africa, South America and the US get to mingle and share industry experiences.

There’s something deeply fascinating and non-Italian about Naples itself, a city of shocking contrasts where absolute beauty and crumbling decay seem to go hand in hand. The Campania region has become increasingly popular with tourists over the past decade, not only due to its incredible history, but also its delicious food and lively atmosphere. While Naples seems to thrive on chaos -its anarchic vibe being one of the city’s main features- it is true that Neapolitans are warm, welcoming and generous. And their behavior is definitely more theatrical than in other parts of the country. You could, in fact, envisage the whole city as a giant movie set and just watch daily life -and its dramas- unfold as a spectator.

Ferdinando Fusco SS24 Campaign

For Ferdinando Fusco, a talented print and fashion designer based in Sorrento, perpetuating regional know-how and motifs is crucial, while advocating a contemporary design approach: “I launched my eponymous brand in 2019 and am very much hands-on when it comes to the design process. All my prints are exclusive and made by hand. I only work with Italian fabrics, and many of my pieces are gender-free, which is perfect when dealing with resort wear. I want to focus on men’s more, and also start a homewear line, because print is truly something I am passionate about.” Fusco’s pieces are sensual, colorful and incredibly light, bringing up the pleasures of beach holidays to mind: “I have an atelier and store in Sorrento, but I took part in international fairs recently, such as WHITE in Milan, which has been very interesting for me. In Sorrento, we also have American and European clients who buy our pieces every year. In the future, I would love to design wallpapers and focus on interior design projects. We currently have stockists in Miami, Greece and Riyadh. I hope we can develop and reach new audiences.

Ferdinando Fusco SS24 Campaign

Famous industry figures were actually born in Naples, including the likes of Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Mario Sorrenti, Emilio Pucci and even Sabato De Sarno, Gucci’s new Creative Director. For Paolo Scafora, whose father Gennaro was also a Naples native and founded his brand of handmade luxury footwear for men in 1956, there are only two menswear traditions that matter when it comes to the fine art of tailoring: “There is an English line, and a Neapolitan one. Those two traditions shape tailoring as we know it today.”

Paolo Scafora

A few years ago, Paolo Scafora decided to return to the artisanal core of his Maison and focus solely on handmade shoes, which are the essence of the Scafora brand: “We have young customers who come to us looking for something special and unusual. We can work with pretty much any material, from suede and lambskin to alligator and mink.” Using exquisite color schemes, and often hand-painting shoes to achieve striking results, Scafora really believes that handmade is synonymous with comfort and reconnects us with the meaning of true luxury: “Luxury is not necessarily what you see from an object, but how it makes you feel when you’re wearing it. It’s not because our shoes are completely handmade that they are the best, but we are different from other brands that release more generic products. For me, luxury is all about private pleasures, and the satisfaction to own something which has a genuine story, as well as signs of outstanding craftsmanship.