I am Paola Stranges, I am at the Italian Cultural Institute to interview the President of a company, of a tailor’s shop, which has spread the Made in Italy on top of the world. The President of E. Marinella, Dr. Maurizio Marinella.
Good evening Maurizio, would you like to talk about the historic brand E. Mariella? About its past, present and future?
The brand was born in 1914, therefore 105 years of history. My grandfather is a genius, then my father Luigi, now I’m here and there’s also a fourth generation, my son. So 105 years. My grandfather’s dream was to invent a small corner of England in Naples. In those days, the elegant man dressed in English and the elegant woman dressed in French. My grandfather went to England and started to import brands that then became very important. We are talking about Aquascutum raincoats, Floris perfumes, Bridge umbrellas, Lock hats and many other brands. Alongside these big names, we created two workshops, one of shirts and one of ties.
At that time Naples had, but perhaps continues to have, a great artisan and sartorial tradition. Everything was made to measure. The fabrics had to be English but the manufacture had to be strictly Neapolitan. So there was always this ping pong between Naples and London for men’s fashion. Immediately after the opening, we began to enjoy a great success, also because the shop was and still is, in front of the municipal villa called Villa Royal. It was the meeting point of the Neapolitan noble families who came for a walk on horseback in the morning and then stopped to buy some items. Matilde Serao, who wrote in the Mattino, compared our shop to a “village pharmacy”.
The shop was a little meeting point where the carabinieri marshal, the mayor and the pharmacist met, and the fate of the town was established.
The First World War brought great difficulties. Even more it brought the second world war when the Italian government put sanctions for which articles could no longer be imported from England. The motto of the Italian government was “Producing Italian consuming Italian”.
My grandfather stayed with the completely empty shop for four years. He arrived at nine in the morning and closed at half past one, then opened again at four and closed at eight in the evening with an empty shop, apologizing to the customers. He said “the situation will change but for now I’m here, I can’t get the articles from England”.
Then we grew up, the two labs went very well. We arrived at a point that we had about 70 people in the two laboratories. Then with the tie we arrived at the neck of some important personages who became the face of our brand. From the Kennedy family onwards all American presidents, but also all the presidents of the Republic. In particular I would like to appoint President Cossiga who started giving away a box of 6 of our ties whenever he went to visit a head of state. President Leone, and then Napolitano who was an important ambassador for us. But also Gorbachev, Putin, in short we have become a reference point with our ties. This is because the E. Marinella tie transmits and will continue to transmit “craftsmanship”.
We continue to do things like my grandfather did, as did my father trying to preserve the same quality, the same attention to detail. This gave us a great reputation and a great and beautiful image in the world.
You have mentioned the wonderful city of Naples more than once. How important is this city for the Marinella family?
Naples is important for Marinella and Marinella is important for Naples. I’ll tell you an anecdote that makes me smile. About 13 years ago, a communication company, that of Klaus Gavi, did a series of interviews in six Italian cities and also in Naples. There were ten questions, one of these questions was “when we talk about Naples, which is the first person that comes to your mind?” So, in the first place came Maradona because Maradona was for us, the successes, we felt important, with him we won a championship.
In second place Totò, in third place Marinella, in fourth place San Gennaro, in fifth place Bassolino. For me, to have arrived even before San Gennaro was a source of pride. Now they are asking me a little about the miracle but I have to organize myself about this.
From your words it is clear that there is so much passion for tradition too. Marinella is born and remains in Naples, this means a strong bond with one’s roots
The link with the territory is very important for us. When my grandfather died my father told me: “Maurizio try to show people that we can do important things starting from Naples but mainly staying in Naples. Naples is my life force. Passion is what drives me more and more to continue with this work always with the same emotion. We open every day of the year at half past six in the morning. Hence without a strong passion, without a strong stimulus, stay inthe shop so many hours a day would be really challenging, I always do it with the desire to demonstrate a beautiful Naples, my family and to pass on to my son maybe a nice business card.
What is E. Marinella’s secret? How do you make the E. Marinella tie?
E. Marinella’s secret is a fabric, which we still make in England according to ancient tradition. Every two months I go to England to print and draw thousands of fantasies. These silks are still hand-printed as they used to be. Now with these new technologies, almost all the silks that are on the market are made digitally. Not us, we still print by hand, the colors are definitely warmer and have completely different color intensities.
Ties are made to measure. Each tie is born as a single object. Longer, wider, narrower, lighter, heavier. We are able to offer customers six different weights, from the lightest to the heaviest, to the very heavy. We made the ties, for example, for Magic Johnson basketball player. He was a giant, when he came into the shop he made the choice of ties with his head in the middle of the chandelier because it was the highest place, he fit it perfectly like a hairdresser’s helmet, we used the fabric of three ties to make a tie for him.
In the end, each tie is a unique object. We make only four ties from each design. The great availability, the great desire to convey a beautiful thing, the color, a little that Neapolitan genius that is a condiment always very appreciated in the world. I feel proud because maybe, with this extraordinary silk object a little unique, always updated, always different, in a world where everything is going crazy, maybe we, with this extraordinary piece of silk we have agreed left and right, north and south. Everyone came together under this emotion of wearing a tie.
We have always transmitted the tie, not as a compulsion. Even I, when I can, especially in the summer, take it off with pleasure. My grandfather used to tell me “Maurizio if you always wear the same gray suit and change a tie every day the same gray suit will look like a different dress”. Man does not have so many possibilities of putting things, a shirt, a tie, a watch, these are the things that make a man elegant. The tie should be worn with the pleasure of putting it on, but mainly we want our tie to also represent a sign of respect, when we go to the theater, when we go to a concert, when we go to a wedding. I must say that I suffer a lot to see, in some important theaters in Italy, some people still with torn jeans. These are situations that must be appreciated and respected.
How does it feel to be an ambassador of made in Italy in the world?
I am very proud because I remain a very simple person. I like it, I’m glad to have received an important witness from my grandfather first and from my father later. I am happy with what I did but mainly, my passion, my emotion is, I repeat and I stress it, to convey a beautiful Naples, a Naples that works, that is committed, that produces quality.
A Naples that wakes up every day at 5 to welcome its customers. At 6 am, we offer coffee and puff pastries. The sense of acceptance is also another principle that was characteristic of Italians before and that perhaps at this moment we are losing a bit but we do not want to lose it. We open at 6 in the morning, it’s the best moment we live with our customers.
In conclusion I wanted to ask you politely a greeting for all the followers and friends of Italians.it
I really greet all Italians living in all parts of the world with great emotion. We continue to broadcast a beautiful Italy. There is an “Italian brand” outside of Italy that is scary. We who are in Italy, maybe don’t even realize it. I made it starting from the deep South, from Naples where everything was a bit difficult or rather at the borders of reality. I have done it by going forward with incredible strength, so I encourage you and I hope you will continue to transmit an extraordinary Italy too.