March 2011

Image: THE XY FACTOR Blue Man Group

Umberto Angeloni aims to reboot the approach to men’s suits
by Adam Tschorn

Ironically, it wasn’t until after he left his job as CEO of Italian suit label Brioni in 2007 that Umberto Angeloni could finally step back and take a good, hard look at menswear. What he concluded is its fundamental building blocks—the size, shape and silhouette scaled from a set of measurements based on post-WWII soldiers—needed to be revisited.

“Men were different then. For example, the right arm was a slightly different size because of all the lifting of the rifles,” he says, emphasizing the point by raising and aiming an invisible rifle. “It hasn’t changed at all since then.”

Apocryphal tale or not, it’s Angeloni’s way of saying he assumed nothing—and questioned everything—on his way to creating the Uman label. These tailored suits and informal jackets are perfect for the fellow he calls homo novus—the “new man.”

Who is homo novus? “He has curiosity and money...He likes to travel.” Angeloni used the measurements of 3,500 men in Milan, Paris and London to fashion his updated silhouette. “It’s not a low shoulder,” he says, pointing to a “Umannequin” that symbolizes the modernized shape, “but it’s not a square one either. And it’s a slightly more muscular physique.”

It’s clear his man (and, one might argue, the vast majority of men) wants a straightforward approach to style. Angeloni built his collection around a two- or three-piece wool or wool-silk blend handmade Italian suit priced at about $3,000, with three jackets—ranging from $2,300 to $3,000 each—added to the lineup every season. (The line launched in Milan for spring 2010, and the jacket count stands at 12.) Coordinating the components is a no-brainer because they’re all in a shade of blue. (Think of it as an adult version of Garanimals.)

Since Angeloni sees homo novus as curious about clothing but unlikely to do the research himself, each suit comes with an illustrated book that lays out the brand’s philosophy, and each seasonal jacket comes with a hardbound book featuring an essay by a fashion writer or bon vivant.

Uman—which made its U.S. debut for fall/winter 2010 exclusively at Barneys New York—is about to roll out three jackets: the Mariner (double-breasted blazer with a hint of peacoat), the Monoi (overprinted jacquard jacket-shirt that riffs on the aloha shirt) and the Mogambo (akin to a classic safari jacket)...all in blue, of course.