MILAN — The Triennale Milano museum is further boosting its affiliation with the world of fashion. After counting Valentino as a sponsor of one of its latest exhibitions dedicated to Italian contemporary painting, on Thursday the multidisciplinary institution revealed a partnership with tailoring specialist Kiton.
The two parties joined forces to spotlight the importance of craftsmanship and the training of a new generation of tailors with a showcase that will coincide with the upcoming Milan Men’s Fashion Week.
Running Jan. 12 to 16 at the museum, the “Tailoring School. A Journey Into Education” showcase will celebrate Kiton’s in-house academy and involve its current class of students. Curated by Luca Stoppini, the project will offer visitors a glimpse of the everyday educational work that is carried at the academy with the goal of giving resonance and right dignity to professions in the sartorial craft. Side talks and activities involving other schools will be included in the initiative.
Kiton’s chief executive officer Antonio De Matteis expressed his satisfaction in collaborating with “a cultural institution that believes in the value of education like us,” while Triennale Milano’s president Stefano Boeri recalled how this was founded a century ago around the concept of applied arts, so “for certain aspects this idea of a careful observation of craftsmanship is at the core of our institution.”
“This project can help us communicate what we want to do in the future, that is making Triennale a hub enabling youth to get closer to a dimension of artisanship and manual skills… I believe craftsmanship needs to regain a key spot,” said Boeri.
Housed at the company’s headquarter in Arzano, five miles from Naples, the Kiton Tailoring School was launched in 2000 and offers a three-year course taught by in-house teachers. The first two years are dedicated to learning the complete production cycle of jackets, while during the third year the students are required to choose a specialization in a specific phase of production.
“We started an academy when the education and training of new craftsmen was not such a big topic yet, thanks to the intuition of my uncle and founder of the company Ciro Paone,” said De Matteis. “At the time, the average age of our artisans was around 55 and we already felt the need of training a new generation of tailors.”
The executive recalled how the first class was attended by only 10 students, also due to prejudices around the appeal and career opportunities of the profession. “But at the end of the three years, all of them were hired by our company, which eventually started a word-of-mouth in the area and requests of enrollment significantly grew,” said De Matteis.
The most recent cycle of training involves 20 students selected out of 150 requests received by the company. “This telegraphs how the perception among new generations has changed. They have understood that if they learn a craft, they can have a professional future,” continued the CEO. De Matteis underscored that students receive a diploma at the end of their training as well as compensation for attending the academy, which is fully self-funded by the company.
In general, 80 percent of students usually find a post at Kiton, while the rest are hired by other firms in the area. “We also had three of them that opened their own ateliers, which is a source of pride for us,” said De Matteis.
“What’s important is that they all perceive that this job can gratify them, also economically. People need to be paid well and work in dignified environments. Youth is different from us, we don’t have to impose what we did 30 or 40 years ago upon them. The world is theirs, not ours,” said De Matteis.
Kiton has five production plants across Italy and counts roughly 850 employees. In addition to Arzano, sportswear looks are made in nearby Caserta; outerwear in Parma; knitwear in Fidenza, and textiles in Biella.
A fifth-generation member of a family of Italian fabric merchants, Paone, who died in 2021, originally established a small plant making tailored pieces in 1956 under the CiPa label, which combined his initials. The company was eventually rebranded Kiton in 1968, taking inspiration from the name of the tunic worn in ancient Greece, the chiton.