Quick Q&A with the founder of Italy’s iconic haberdashery ERAL 55

If you’ve ever visited Milan and strolled along Corso Como, then you may have noticed the colorful windows that face Piazza XXV Aprile, one of the city’s busiest squares. The displays are often whimsical, classically stylish, and distinctive, even among the flashy nearby façades of bigger, more well-known brands. They all belong to ERAL 55, the 44-year old men’s haberdashery dedicated to perfectly-imperfect menswear staples like bespoke suiting, charismatic vintage items like English-made footwear and Japanese denim, as well as fine accessories and eccentricities.

The store’s founder is Ermanno Lazzarin, an icon of mens style in Milan and one of the few forging a different path from the wider fashion industry’s movement toward streetwear and casual style. Lately, he himself, his store, and his private label Sartoria Lazzarin have garnered a loyal following across the world in Japan, where sophisticated, discerning menswear customers are embracing his “old school” charm and philosophy around dressing. We reached him by email for a quick Q&A…

Q: Tell us a bit about your background. What led you to found ERAL 55 in 1976?

A: A diciassette anni durante lo studio di geometra facevo il commesso part time in negozio che vendeva solo pantaloni. A ventuno anni ho seguito la mia passione e ho aperto Eral 55 insieme ad un mio amico. 

A: When I was seventeen, I was a part-time shop assistant in the surveyor’s shop, selling only trousers. At twenty-one I followed my passion and I opened ERAL 55 together with a friend of mine.

ERAL 55 Ermanno Lazzarin italist style icon
ERAL 55’s Ermanno Lazzarin, an italist style icon

Q: How has the bespoke menswear business changed since then? Do you think there will always be demand for bespoke tailors in menswear?

A: Negli anni ‘80 con l’avvento degli stilisti e di aziende che producevano abiti e giacche confezionati con sempre miglior fattura, la sartoria attraversò un momento poco felice. Di seguito la globalizzazione, iniziata negli anni 2000, ha concesso a tutti la possibilità di avvicinarsi a determinati consumi, falsando il significato di lusso che, per definizione, non vuol dire costoso, ma unico. Si aprì quindi una nuova stagione di ascesa per la sartoria, con la possibilità di fare a propria scelta un capo unico ed esclusivo. 

Purtroppo i sarti veri hanno tutti età avanzata, per cui la loro sostituzione diventa sempre più improbabile.Il sarto è una figuraccia in via di estinzione

A: In the 1980s, with the advent of designers and companies that produced clothes and jackets made with ever better workmanship, tailoring went through an unhappy moment. Globalization, which started in the 2000s, has given everyone the opportunity to approach certain consumption, distorting the meaning of luxury which, by definition, does not mean expensive, but unique. A new season of ascent for tailoring opened, with the possibility of making a unique and exclusive garment at one’s choice.

Unfortunately, the real tailors are all old age, so their replacement becomes increasingly unlikely. The tailor is an endangered fool.

ERAL 55 Ermanno Lazzarin italist style icon The Gigi Red Wing Ralph Lauren PT01

Q: What’s the stylistic essence of Sartoria Lazzarin and ERAL 55? What sort of customer comes to you?

A: La fusione della sartoria tradizionale acquisisce gli umori del consumatore del negozio, dove si respirano culture internazionali e la sperimentazione di Eral 55 si mette a disposizione dell’azienda di famiglia: Sartoria Lazzarin.

A: The fusion of traditional tailoring acquires the mood of the shop consumer, where international cultures are breathed and ERAL 55’s experimentation is made available to the family business: Sartoria Lazzarin.

Q: You do a lot of business in Japan and with Japanese customers. What are the cultural and sartorial parallels between Italy and Japan?

A: In Giappone, in questo momento storico, il cliente è più preparato e più portato ad approfondire le informazioni su quanto consuma, a differenza del consumatore italiano che, più presuntuoso, è portato ad un consumo più legato al fast fashion.

A: In Japan, in this historical moment, the customer is more prepared and more inclined to deepen the information on what he consumes, unlike the Italian consumer who, more presumptuous, is led to a consumption more tied to fast fashion. 

ERAL 55 Ermanno Lazzarin italist style icon Drumohr Eleventy Gabriele Pasini Tricker's Alberta Fasciani Henderson Baracco

Q: What makes ERAL 55 special? What gives the Milan shop staying power among myriad online and offline competitors (and a general trend toward casual streetwear)?

A: Penso che Eral 55 sia una realtà non fedele a marchi o mode del momento, che resta coerente con le sue radici e questo può essere l’indice di gradimento e apprezzamento di un certo pubblico. 

A: I think ERAL 55 is a reality not faithful to brands or fashions of the moment, which remains consistent with its roots and this can be the index of satisfaction and appreciation of a certain audience.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who has never experimented with bespoke? Why is it worth their time and money, at least to experience once?

A: Andare in sartoria non vuol dire comprarsi un abito, ma acquisire un oggetto che è destinato a durare nel tempo e il prezzo che può sembrare più alto di un abito confezionato, è destinato ad essere ammortizzato nel tempo. Quindi non vuol dire spendere di più ma probabilmente spendere meglio. 

A: Going to a tailor’s shop does not mean buying a suit, but acquiring an object that is destined to last over time and the price that may seem higher than a packaged suit is destined to be amortized over time. So it doesn’t mean spending more but probably spending better.

ERAL 55 Ermanno Lazzarin italist style icon Eleventy New Balance Drumohr Ralph Lauren Henderson Baracco

Q: What’s your personal style philosophy? Are there any principles that you live by?

A: Il mio obiettivo è quello di non essere omologato e di non stare dalla parte della maggioranza.

Il mio modo di vestire non ha dei canoni precisi, ma è un modo di mescolare il classico con lo sportivo cercando sempre di lavorare su un dettaglio di imperfezione.

A: My goal is to not be approved and not to be on the side of the majority.

My way of dressing does not have precise rules, but it is a way of mixing the classic with the sportsman always trying to work on a detail of imperfection.

Q: What do you wear if you’re not in a suit or semi-formal attire? What are your favorite casual brands or designers? 

A: Anche se in questo momento sembra meno popolare tra i consumatori, penso che Ralph Lauren sia un punto di riferimento importante. 

A: Although at the moment it seems less popular among consumers, I think Ralph Lauren is an important reference point.

Q: As an insider, what are your favorite spots in Milan to eat, take aperitivo, and shop (for gifts, books, gourmet food)? Favorite bars? Are there any places you would suggest our readers not miss if they visit? 

A: Per mangiare La Briciola. Per aperitivo Radetzky. Libri: Corso Como 10. Cibi: Eataly. Bar: Tommasi. 

A: To eat: La Briciola; for aperitivo: Radetzky; books: 10 Corso Como; food: Eataly; bar: Tommasi.


Shop classical menswear and suiting brands on italist, inspired by the “perfectly imperfect” style of ERAL 55 founder Ermanno Lazzarin:


Discover more Style Icons on italist Magazine, including fellow menswear icon Alessandro Squarzi and fellow Italian female style icon Vanessa Zoppas.


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