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4 Sep 2017

My Melbourne: Carl Navè

For bespoke tailor, Carl Nave, Melbourne’s unique style stems from our unique weather.

Melbourne’s weather is often described as having ‘four seasons in one day’. For most of us this could mean anything from always carrying an umbrella, to always carrying hope for those final rays of sunshine as the day dies. Not for bespoke tailor, Carl Navè. When he talks about Melbourne’s weather, he hails it as a major instigator responsible for Melbourne’s unique fashion sense, trend setting and cutting edge designs.

“Melbourne is definitely the most stylish city in Australia, and I believe it’s due to our weather. Melburnians get to experiment with layering and textures, something that most other cities in Australia don’t really get to do.”

Carl’s definitely right about that, and he should know. The Williamstown-born Italian comes from a family of tailors, and has been sewing since his Nonna first introduced him to needle and thread at the tender age of six. He now owns and operates Carl Navè – Individually Tailored.

How would you describe Melbourne men's style of dressing within the national and international fashion 'pecking order'?

Four seasons in one day means that our style needs to be easily adaptable; across business and social occasions. Most men have to carry around a light jacket and an umbrella, whilst their suits needs to allow them to feel comfortable indoors and out. During winter we wear trench coats, three piece suits, scarves and even gloves, we’re more like the northern Europeans in that way. I love the way the Italians dress, especially the Milanese. Melburnians are very similar to the Milanese, we work long hours and we are very social people. We appreciate style, but we are demanding of our clothes and, in many cases, a business suit needs to takes us from morning to noon to night.

What makes a bespoke suiting business uniquely different, and more of an experience?

The way we wear our suits has changed in many ways. To some a suit is a uniform, but to others it’s an extension of their personality. That is why, for me, it is very important to involve the client in every step of the process and allow them to impart a touch of their personality on to the garment I create. My made to measure is quite different to other services in that each suits is created from scratch using its very own pattern. This allows for all of the client’s measurements, posture and shoulder slope as well as all of the details of the garment, which incorporates everything from the lapel style and width to the position of the pockets, contrast linings and monogram detail.

Why is it important for men to invest in a quality suit?

A quality suit, will last the test of time, and ensuring that yours is made with integrity and to your exact measurements only means that you will get plenty of wear out of it. And of course every man needs a good suit to help them mark the special moments in life. It is important that we are all as well dressed as we can be when making these memories

We imagine that a business like yours may attract anyone from locals to visitors to celebrities. Any celebrities you can mention?

have had the pleasure of working with some amazing local celebrities, sports stars and even politicians. Their needs are just like those of the rest of my clients. They want to look and feel special in a suit that they have had a hand in creating. The Brownlow is a fantastic event for me and for Melbourne, and I dress a number of footballers each year. I love that these boys get to dress up in their finery for one night. They do it well and it’s changed the way men see their favourite players.

Are you predicting any men's fashion trends for spring?

I try not to follow trend too much, it’s the cloth that inspires me. Trends don’t need to apply when a customer is incorporating part of their personality or his own unique style. This is why I love what I do, each garment is unique and doesn’t fit a mould. I like to believe that everything is in fashion at the same time, it’s up to the individual too carry it off. Having said that, I am very much inspired by my heritage and have preference for very soft Italian style tailoring, I’ve been working with a lot of linen and light weight wool lately, and the warmer months allow us to soften the way that we dress.

What are your tips for dressing for the races?

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is all about colour. After a dreary winter, Melbourne comes alive with the best exhibition of fashion and frivolity. I like to follow the traditions of the carnival, a touch of yellow for Melbourne Cup, a bit of pink for Oaks Day and Black and White on Derby Day, but I like to have fun with it by experimenting with cut and detail. My advice is to have fun and be bold with colour and accessories, as long you can carry it off. The carnival is not for the faint hearted!

What do you love about living and working in Melbourne?

This city is nothing but style and class. The diversity and ethnicity is intrinsic and that’s what makes us so great. Whilst I love that Melbourne is a bustling 24 hour city, that rivals some off the worlds best, to me Melbourne has a strong sense of community. This is why I choose to operate my business here. I love that I can walk through the middle of the city, down Bourke or Collins Street and bump into a client or a fellow business owner and stop for a chat. We love fashion, food and parties and Melbourne comes alive for me in the spring time. The launch of the Spring Racing Carnival spurs my business on and we rejoice in the new season’s colours.

Carl's Melbourne Picks

Coffee spot Find Neapoli in Russell Place – great coffee and tucked away in a great Melbourne laneway.

Bar I’m loving the QT Hotel with its great bar, restaurant and roof top. Siglo has to be my favourite spot for a killer martini; the rooftop makes me feel like I’m in Paris. Then there’s Rufus in Greville Street, Prahran, my new favourite local.

Restaurant The European is an institution and has the best spaghetti marinara in town, hands down. But I also love Tokyo Tina in Windsor and Longrain in the CBD for some amazing Asian flavours and spice.

Event The Festival of Steve, it’s a design and lifestyle festival that celebrates the modern man and supports small business within the City of Melbourne, I happen to be one of the organisers, so I am little a biased. Treat St Kilda’s Aurora Day Spa at the Prince of Wales is my splurge. A day of massage and pampering whilst taking in some sun on their roof deck is all I need to recharge my batteries from time to time.

Treat St Kilda’s Aurora Day Spa at the Prince of Wales is my splurge. A day of massage and pampering whilst taking in some sun on their roof deck is all I need to recharge my batteries from time to time.

Building The NGV International on St Kilda Road is one of my favourite buildings in Melbourne, not to mention the amazing exhibitions they hold. I love the St Kilda Road precinct and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria’s Melbourne Gardens, it’s a beautiful precinct right on the edge of the city, especially beautiful in spring time when all of the colours begin to pop.