Gagliardi – The Story Behind the Brand

Gagliardi - The Story Behind the Brand

The family-owned Bortex Group (the name an anagram of ‘Borg’ and ‘textiles’) has been making apparel ever since 1964. Founder Salvatore ‘Sunny’ Borg launched the firm, specializing in men’s suits, jackets and trousers, whilst also being renowned for manufacturing for other labels and tailors and for various well-known and high profile customers from around the world. 

The Borg family started Gagliardi based on the founder’s nickname and life story… Salvatore Gagliardi had always wanted to see the world. However, as the first distant hints of war approached, he joined the military ranks as a young lad, eager to contribute towards safeguarding his beloved Mediterranean islands. With a slim wad of banknotes in his wallet, some pennies in his pocket, his rucksack on his back, he set off to his destiny along with a few hundred other young men, aboard an army truck driven over rubble roads towards the barracks which would be their home for many months to come.

Gagliardi - The Story Behind the Brand

He wriggled in his new uniform, making sure everything was just so, the way his mother had always taught him. “Being respectable starts from the way you dress,” was her motto. The commander in charge of his battalion must have had a mother sharing the same ideology and seemed to take the self-same motto to heart. Salvatore enviously eyed the man’s sharply creased trousers, immaculate shirt and spotless jacket, making a mental note to press his own trousers a bit harder next time round. 

The military experience proved to be an eye opening one for him. He learnt a great deal, observed everything and anything that seemed worthwhile of observation.
He made his first travels to nearby Italy, and he learnt fast. Eventually he used his natural aplomb and enthusiasm to stand out from the crowd, quickly scaling the ranks within the forces as his innate prowess at leadership came to the fore. His skills expertly manifested during the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943, when he was already commanding an Anti-Aircraft Battery that effectively downed wave upon wave of attacking enemy aircraft. 

Due to his expert marksmanship Salvatore quickly earned the nickname of ‘The Blind Shooter’, a nickname jokingly supported by his claims that he always shot blindfolded! Fact is that ultimately, he was awarded the Italy Cross by his Commanding Officer quite early on in his military career.
It was not just Salvatore’s infectious personality and good-natured temperament, but also his humility and sharp wit that earned him the respect of his men and he became something of a celebrity within military and social circles. 

Dubbed a ‘war hero’ for his selfless and exemplary work at war, once it was over, Salvatore enjoyed his new-found fame and life treated him well. ‘Il Gagliardi’ as all his friends amiably called him, was enthralled by his opportunity to stand out from the crowd in more ways than one. It was time to travel in some leisure and ease, even whilst attentively eyeing the industrial and economic resurgence of Italy where he spent most of the immediate post-war period.

Gagliardi - The Story Behind the Brand

Salvatore learnt to appreciate ‘la bella vita’ which the Italians always relished, a lifestyle he experienced strolling along the streets of Rome, Florence and Milan all the way up the boot of Italy. Salvatore discovered the finer things in life, observed the way men dressed and envied the finesse of their clothing, the elegance of the gait. 

He quickly came to strengthen his own resolve on how effectively the well-dressed always stood out from the crowd. Returning home via a long trail southwards that led him through all the most fashionable hubs, Salvatore learnt to appreciate the bonhomie and freshness of Italian fashion and the way Italian men carried it.
He was especially taken in by the world of Capri, the luxuriousness and infinitesimal aplomb with which personalities carried themselves on this island, rendered famous by the crowd it attracted. 

It was not just about the way people lived their lives, not just about the new expensive cars or bohemian houses. The islands’ colours seemed to bounce back with extra vigour, allowing the spirit to be especially buoyant, each and every day. During this time, Salvatore could also be found whiling away time in the casinos of San Remo or at the boat shows in Genoa, witnessing the glamour and style, but most of all making up for time lost during the gloomy and oppressive war years.

Gagliardi - The Story Behind the Brand

Salvatore soon made acquaintances with the upper echelons of Italian society; his striking good looks and intelligence distinguished him from others and sowed the seeds for his continuing success. Whilst mixing within these social circles, he was further allured by the importance of ‘la bella figura’: the seemingly effortless, well-heeled elegance of the Italian people that is still very much a central part of their culture today. 

He had long noticed how men were trying to emulate all the big shots of the silver screen, inspired by the 50s ‘New Look’ which urged their female counterparts to dress up with more flair after the austerities of war-time rationing. On a personal level, Salvatore started investing in a series of bespoke suits, better understanding the nature of Italian men’s tailoring: the need for simplicity, veracity and elegance. 

At a certain point after returning home, Salvatore became restless and felt the need to harness his lifelong wish to sail the seas. By then, the year was 1950 and Salvatore grasped the opportunity to join the British Merchant Navy. At sea for months on end and trading with lands far away from his own, Salvatore learnt to be an excellent entrepreneur. Buying from one port of call and selling at the next was an effective way of making good money. From bartering cigarettes in the mess hall to negotiating land prices, Salvatore entertained his natural acumen for business dealings, determined to get the best out of every situation. 

Regarded as one of the best-dressed, sartorial mariners on shore leave, ‘Il Gagliardi’ would mingle with the locals, learn snippets of language and tradition and observe habits and style. He was enthralled by India and perused the rainbow coloured stalls of the Indian textile markets for exotic and rare fabrics, always making sure to get a suit fitted by the British tailors while he was there. While stationed in Australia for six long months as the ship he was sailing underwent maintenance, Salvatore was introduced to Merino Wool and its unique qualities. Eventually Merino Wool would become one of the key fabrics he repeatedly included in his sartorial collections. 

Back home on his native Mediterranean island, Salvatore knew the time was ripe to settle down. He decided to forge ahead and start a business in the fashion world. It was the right thing to do at the right moment in time and his stamina meant that hard work was not something he feared. Salvatore’s vision was to create his own menswear brand. He was not a tailor, yet he knew a great deal about clothes, and was determined to bring quality male fashion to the masses. His menswear collections would be all about the finer things of life and whilst he wanted to offer fair prices and a value for money, he insisted that the men wearing his clothing would effortlessly stand out from the crowd for being exceptionally well dressed and exceptionally respectful. After all, wasn’t that what mama had taught him?

The face of Henri Lloyd Spring Summer 2014

The face of Henri Lloyd Spring Summer 2014

No one seizes opportunity more so than Sir Ben Ainslie; after completing his most successful sporting achievement ever sailing in the 2013 America’s Cup in September last year, Sir Ben returned home to support the brand he calls family. 

Honouring his many achievements Henri Lloyd celebrates a true Modern Day Pioneer in their Spring 14 campaign.
Inspired by the brand’s rich marine heritage, Henri Lloyd have crafted a beautifully executed campaign shot by esteemed fashion photographer Steve Harries and features brand ambassador Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful sailor of all time – achieving 4 Olympic Gold Medals, 11 World Championship titles and 9 European Championship titles in his career to date. 

We sit down with Craig Prest, Creative Director of Henri Lloyd to find out more about this high profile collaboration: 

How did the link up with Ben come about? 

“Henri Lloyd have been working with Sir Ben since 1995. At first supporting him through the early days of his sailing career up until today when it’s much more a case of Ben helping us developing bespoke sailing gear whilst sharing and honouring his increasing achievements on and off the water.”

The face of Henri Lloyd Spring Summer 2014

Tell us about the new collection 

“Spring 14 is all about investing further into strong nautical looks and the very best of British design. From seafaring stripes and colour blocking to indispensable seasonal staples the collection is easy to wear and easy to style. The offer is bold in its use of colour, fabric and detail embracing springs new trends for nautical influenced pieces. We have seen a lot of bright colour on the catwalk spanning the tonal spectrum from primary’s to almost fluorescents and whilst we have celebrated colour we have made sure to anchor the collection in foundational marine blues. We also worked hard to start bridging towards next season when the trends smarten, watch out for sport tailoring and the return of the short suit.” 

The collection seems to have a new feel, are you heading in a new

“No, we are still very much grounded in our brand values and DNA. Influenced by the sea yet very aware of what’s happening else where. Directionally you have to respect the ever decreasing divide between the worlds of sportswear and fashion. It’s no longer enough to throw a technical fabric into a winning style and call that new, our consumer is much too savvy and won’t accept that level of hybrid design. Its now leaning much closer to developing new construction methods and finding details that are unexpected and refined. So no it’s not about a new direction but much more about knowing your identity, where you have come from and where you are going.” 

Any exciting plans for the next 6 months we should know about? 

“Always but then if I told you they would cease to excite! All I can say is that we are working hard on all aspects of the brand from newly developed technical innovations through to more modern contemporary looks. We have just been showcasing some of this at Pitti and I’m currently writing this from ISPO where we are meeting with most of our partners working on some new technical developments. 2014 is a year when you will see Black Label start to influence and have greater resonance within the market whilst our lifestyle offer also increases its focus on having an individual POV.”

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Watch the Super Bowl Trailer for “Transformers 4: Age Of Extinction” is a post by on Highsnobiety.

COMME des GARCONS Junya Watanabe MAN Spring/Summer 2014 Collection

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COMME des GARCONS Junya Watanabe MAN Spring/Summer 2014 Collection is a post by on Highsnobiety.

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