Stylish Athens Is the Place to Be if Custom-Made Clothing Suits You
When you want to make a fashion statement, wearing a perfectly tailored bespoke suit helps you present the best version of yourself. Your customized attire represents you as no other wardrobe ensemble can, with its style, fabric or its dozens of details. If a custom-made suit is on your list, a visit to Athens may be in order.
Athens is increasingly a player in the fashion scene as Greek designers bend rules and create head-turning couture. If it’s a stop on your cruise, it may be the ideal place to buy a stylish bespoke shirt or suit, especially now that technology can help with the fitting process.
A tailor-made history
Bespoke, a past tense of “bespeak,” came into use in the 17th century when clients visited tailors, typically in their homes, and chose a fabric and style for a custom-made suit. This selection would then be “spoken for,” which led to the term “bespoke.”
Before the invention of the sewing machine, suits were made by hand. The sewing machine quickly changed the fashion scene.
Barthélémy Thimonnier’s machine-based clothing manufacturer opened in France to provide uniforms for the French army, but enraged tailors burned his factory to the ground. He opened another factory and, soon, civilian clothing manufacturers changed the trajectory of fashion.
Despite the Industrial Revolution, the art of tailoring survived.
Where to find ‘just for you’
You’ll often find bespoke wear in capital cities, where tailors create modern, stylish attire.
“The best reason for having bespoke clothes,” writes Bernhard Roetzel, founder of the Gentleman’s Gazette, an online magazine devoted to men’s fashion, “is that it is great fun and also exciting to have something made by hand for oneself.”
If your time in Athens or any city promising bespoke clothing is limited, technology provides the answer to suits that involve multiple fittings: Video fittings, often using an app designed to provide accurate body measurements as well as an analysis of your posture, can substitute for in-person appearances, ensuring that the custom suit will fit.
When the crafter and the customer are satisfied, the final product can be shipped to you.
Choosing your craftsperson
Selecting a tailor is a key step in your sartorial journey, says Giorgos Papadogamvros, a third-generation tailor in Athens.
“A good tailor’s eye is the greatest weapon in a man’s wardrobe,” he says in the Greek online magazine Protothema. “You can have a well-tailored garment with no personality, but finding the right tailor can take it to the next level.”
Talented tailors can create suits that make men look thinner. “A good tailor has secrets for slimming men,” he notes.
Here are a few of Athens’ bespoke creatives and what makes each unique.
Christakis Athens is known for its bespoke shirt making but also offers bespoke suits, lounge wear, safari shirts and dressing gowns.
Christos Triantafyllides, the founder of Christakis, arrived in 1934 from what was then Constantinople (today Istanbul) and set out to become Athens’ best-known shirtmaker.
Using Swiss fabrics, the tailor opened his atelier in 1947 and soon became sought after for his handmade shirts.
Today, Christakis Athens is a family affair including grandsons Antonis and Christos Nyflis and their uncle, Nikos Fotakis, a master shirt cutter.
Cotton remains the most popular shirting material, but other factors play into the creation of your bespoke shirt. For instance, do you want a single-fold fabric or a double-fold (or two ply) which entails spinning two yarns together for a finer, more luxurious feel, yarn count and fabric weave.
Poplin, for example, is suited to a Mediterranean climate because it’s lightweight yet crisp and cool and remains the most popular choice among the atelier’s clients.
Lounge wear is becoming a fashionable addition to modern wardrobes, and Christakis Athens creates its line using the same fabrics as their shirts. The dressing gown is considered one of the most dapper in-house garments, says Christos Nyflis.
“The sight of a gentleman greeting his guest wearing his ‘robe de chambre’ above a soft poplin shirt and tie is as debonair as it gets,” he says on the company’s website.
Information: Two locations: Christakis Flagship Store & Workshop, Kriezotou 5, Athens; Christakis Kifisia, Kolokotroni 9, Kifisia, about 10 miles northeast of the flagship store; Website: christakisathens.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You could say Vassilis Bourtsalas grew up with a threaded needle in his mouth.
Bourtsalas’ parents transformed his grandfather’s textile outlet into a ready-to-wear store. By the time he was 18, Vassilis oversaw the menswear department, selling ready-to-wear suits. He left the family business for an education in the U.S. and later began a career in the corporate world. He eventually returned him to Greece, where he opened a consulting firm.
Bourtsalas longed to return to his roots in the fashion world, and in 2004, he opened Bespoke Athens, which he describes on his company’s website as “a tailoring lab and a gallery of style.” Working with top tailors, he pursues his passion to “dress men like they’ve never been dressed before.”
Handmade suits become “true masterpieces” at Bespoke Athens, Bourtsalas says, adding, “There are no constraints and limitations. We love to break the rules!”
The team at Bespoke Athens works closely with the client when selecting the components of the suit — quality of the cloth, buttons, lining and thread, for example — knowing that making the right choices is key to the ideal custom suit.
“We are giving just as much attention to you as we do the suit,” Bourtsalas says.
Bespoke Athens also offers bespoke shirts, featuring mother of pearl buttons and fabric options including Egyptian cotton, linen, cashmere and natural blends, such as cotton/linen. Ties made in any length or width to suit a client’s proportions are also available. Fabrics include a variety of silk and cotton as well as cashmere and wool.
Information: Anagnostopoulou 15-17, Kolonaki. Website: bespoke.gr. Email: email@example.com
The son of a tailor and a designer, Giorgos Papadogamvros knew early on that he wanted to excel in the world of fashion.
After attending a top tailoring school in Greece, Papadogamvros continued his studies in Milan, Italy. When he returned to Athens, people commented on the young man’s stylish clothes, asking where he bought them. “I made them!” Papadogamvros said in an interview with The National Herald, a Greek weekly newspaper.
Papadogamvros, known for its classic-modern aesthetic, has a worldwide clientele, including shipping tycoons, celebrities and professional athletes. He interviews each, asking questions designed to determine the client’s wishes. “Each one has his style, and that is my challenge, to create something in his style that he loves,” he says.
Customers say that a suit by Papadogamvros, featuring a slim cut tailored to their measurements, fits like the proverbial glove. “Clothes don’t fit the body automatically,” Papadogamvros notes. “The hand of the tailor creates the shape. The cloth is his canvas and his marble.”
Information: Kiriazi 9, Kifisia. Website: papadogamvros.gr