Vincenzo Mercadante

This tailor can fuse old-world traditional tailoring techniques with modern tools and technology to get the job done. About 10 years ago, he went to design school at Lasalle College to learn how to use digital media to make patterns and create designs. After obtaining his degree, Mercadante went on to l’UQAM to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Teaching at the age of 65. This tailor now offers private courses at his shop for aspiring young tailors, and he creates customized garments for his loyal clientele – one stitch at a time.

Age: 67 Birthplace: Vezzara, Conca di Campania, Caserta

In the business since: “… I was 11 years old. After school, I used to go to the tailor shop to sweep the floor. I learned how to iron with charcoal, and I learned sopramano (hand-stitching).

Modus operandi: “It depends what the customer wants. Here, we can take the client from A to Z. When they first come in, I study my client. What type of client are they? What are they looking for, for what event, and what style will suit them? I help them choose a style and fabric. Then I take their measurements. I use stencils and patterns to make the suit, sewing with a machine or by hand. They come for a fitting, I make minor adjustments, and then they come back for a final fitting.”

Fashion philosophy: “Fashion is not for everyone. Fashion is what you feel good in.”

Famous clients: (orchestra conductor) Yuli Turovsky, (former Montreal Alouettes player) Peter Dalla Riva, (Vancouver 2010 Olympic speed skater) Olivier Jean

Strangest request: “Someone came in the other day, and he wanted a suit like The Beatles used to wear in the 60s: short jacket and tight pants. I told him, ‘The pants are too tight. They’re going to burst.’ But that’s how he wanted them, and he was happy.”

Favourite part of the job: “The creativity of it. When I see a piece of cloth, I am already imagining what I can do with it…Taking that piece of flat cloth and seeing it moulded on someone’s body is the best part.”

Worst part of the job: “Sewing buttons. I hate to sew buttons, but when I do it, let me tell you, they don’t come out anymore!”

Qualities of a good tailor: “You have to like the trade. You have to be very meticulous to make garments that are refined and precise. It also takes a lot of patience, and you have to be good at understanding your customer.”

Tricks of the trade: “It’s simple. It’s geometry. But there are some techniques, that when mastered, make the rest of the process easier: your cutting has to be exact, pressing is important, and making straight seams. Also, I never tell my clients the flaws of their body. If I notice one hip or one shoulder higher than the other, or something is crooked, I’ll take note of it, and try to make a garment that will hide those defects.”

Is tailoring an art or a science? “It’s an art, because you are building something to fit the human body. You work so hard to try to make your client look his best, for his body type.

Factory vs. shop (Industrial tailoring vs. traditional tailoring): “I can make a garment entirely by machine if I wish, or entirely by hand, if I wish. But there is nothing like a made-to-measure suit. I sew all the lining by hand, the seams are hand-finished. The quality of traditional tailoring is completely different.”

Select Men’s Wear

4809 Ste. Catherine Street East – 514 255-2493

written by Sabrina Marandola