Nicolás Zaffora has just arrived from Ecuador. Until there he wore his elegant suits impeccably cut and custom made for your new customers.
His idea is to be a benchmark for tailoring in Latin America, a luxury for few that is not so easy to achieve in this sector of the planet.
Something that does happen in the northern hemisphere, especially in cities like London or Milan, where tailors are well recognized.
“The best are there,” says Zaffora, 46, divorced and father of two girlsbefore starting the production of photos in your atelier located on Arroyo street.
That’s where men with good taste go, they like to look elegant, are lovers of handmade clothes and can afford to pay over $2,000 for a suit. The model, of course, is unique and unrepeatable.
The list of clients of the tailor shop, which has its own workshop on the first floor, will not be revealed for the world.
“The first thing, always, is discretion”, clarifies the tailor who try measurements and sample imported fabrics on the first date to order a tailored suit.
Nicolás Zaffora, in addition to being a discreet man, is calm, orderly and very detailed, like a good Cancerian.
He doesn’t seem like someone of many words. Only the fair and necessary. Perhaps this feature of his personality is influenced by the fact that he has spent ten years of his life living with the silence of a monastery.
“Yes, I was a monk and one day my superior told me: ‘You have to be the tailor of this place’ And that’s when I started to learn to work with fabrics, to make clothes for people who don’t look at themselves in the mirror. I would say that I learned the trade: to sew and cut. I was 21 years old,” she recalls.
learn by working
Before the monastery Zaffora remembers playing around with fashion a bit. An orphan, he was raised as a boy by his grandparents who lived in Azul, in the province of Buenos Aires, where he attended primary school.
His grandfather was a retired military man and worked as a saddler. But he had a cousin who gave him clothes and he especially remembers a light gray linen suit with shoulder pads and a very wide lapel.
“I would wear it for special occasions and roll up the sleeves. Sometimes he wore it with a t-shirt underneath. And that was absolutely modern for the time and place”, he says proudly. Everything was in his head: in the town there was no information about style, trends or looks.
“I also remember that when I was in high school (he did high school in Buenos Aires) I used to wear my jeans with military boots and I cut the sleeves off the t-shirts. I even remember especially when I bought some very pointed Texan boots that were crazy, ”he says.
After high school and rehearsing some lookscame the years in the monastery.
“When I left, my taste was stunted, but the path of learning had begun,” he explains.
“In our country you learn by workingthere are very few academies where you can study, only in the First World is there more demand,” he says.
“Here one has to learn perhaps with another professional who teaches you to cut, to sew and to read what the fabrics are telling us. Because the fabrics, I assure you, communicatethey always say something and that has to be discovered”, he continues.
So it was that, to what he had learned in the monastery, added Natalio’s advicea tailor whom he found after looking for a professional to teach him.
“He gave me the first tools and with that I learned. Later, I left the vocation of service because I did not feel good in there. The first thing that happened is that I had to accommodate my ideas: at 18 I had decided on one path and at 28 I was faced with another”, he says.
Zaffora then shuffled and dealt again. He closed the door of the monastery and began a new life. “I went from the vow of obedience to making my own decisions and from the vow of chastity to the possibility of starting a family and from the vow of poverty to making a living,” he reflects.
Did you imagine then making a race between fabrics, threads, centimeters and scissors?
“The truth is that I had no idea, it was only when I left the monastery that I made decisions. He knew that he didn’t want to be an employee and that he wanted something of his own. Y the tailoring was a common thread, the way: I like to cover and protect when I make clothes, so that the person who wears what I make them feels safe”, he expresses.
“There that feeling comes from the mission I took on: I take it as a commitment. I always look for a way for that person to have what they are looking foreven outside my schemes”, says the tailor, who has up to four interviews to achieve a perfect suit.
“As soon as a client enters, I listen to him, I understand him, I analyze him. And when I read the profile I already know what genres to show him for his suit. I work with eight brands of Italian and English fabrics. Then comes the moment of the measurements: they are around 40 so that there is no mistake and the clothes fit well”, he says.
And he adds: “I know that this service is not from this era, we are like anachronistic, our work is highly artisanal. In any case, it must be recognized that in the ’90s there was a weariness of brands and small author firms were reborn in the world. That is why there are brands of hats, shoes, ties. In international markets, this is more noticeable because they are much larger than the Argentine market.”
The Tailor of Arroyo Street
Zaffora defines its clients as true gourmets. “They are enjoyers of good things,” she clarifies. And then she comments that although they have different professions, they know that in their atelier everything is set so that your suits are perfect: “In the first suit we do more tests because, in addition, we make the personalized molding that is stored here.”
A sastre at home
Although at her workplace Zaffora has all the items she needs to start a costume, many times he goes to the place of his clients. “European tailors move to Russia or the United Arab Emirates. Also to New York. I started doing this at a regional level, outside of Buenos Aires, which is a city where everyone usually comes.”
“Men from other parts of the region do not have such a service and my idea is to offer it to themtransfer this proposal to Latin America, from Mexico down, and that they don’t have to travel to New York or a city in Europe to make a good suit.”
The Latin American tour of the Nicolás Zaffora tailor shop includes, in addition to Ecuador, countries like Mexico, Chile and Paraguay. “I am organizing the work. I go for the first time to meet the client, then I return to prepare the suits based on the chosen fabrics and with all the measurements taken, and finally I go again to see the client. They are comings and goings because I cannot test them in Buenos Aires, so I am adjusting methods.”
In the world of tailoring there are three categories: there are suits Ready to wear that are sold in stores, Made to measurewhich is custom made good quality suit and finally the Bespoke which is tailor-made and by hand. The latter, precisely, is the specialty of Zaffora.
“It’s like saying: there are common cars, there are premium cars and there are Rolls-Royce y in a Bugatti. They are all cars, but they are different. The same goes for suits. In the world there are models that cost up to 12,000 dollars, something totally unfeasible in Argentina, a country where three months is an eternity”, he adds, while acknowledging his admiration for Ramón Blanco, whom he defines as an absolute eminence at the time to make a suit.
The keys to a perfect suit? “There are three: that the fabric plummets (the thread has to look perfect), that the fit is adjusted to the body and that there is a balance between the front and the back”, explains Zaffora, who closes her idea demonstrating her self-demand. “Sometimes I think that there is no perfect suit, that’s why I never stop and you always have to learn,” he says.
For women he also does tailoring. “The suit is a masculine garment that enhances femininity, it is something that cannot be explained but it is like this: the suit or tuxedo looks very good on women, it gives them power.”
In times of social networks, Zaffora has her own account where she is in charge of showing her models almost daily. He poses in private planes, is shown smoking cigars, wearing luxury watches. Such a influencer of the tailor shop with almost 35,000 followers.
“When I started professionally, 12 years ago, I did it at home, with a sewing machine and a wooden board, making arrangements for my friends. I didn’t have money to hire a model so I would make my clothes for myself and show them off. I dress in the clothes I make and show them. Sometimes I must confess that I suffer a bit from the subject of the photos, but here we are”, he reveals.