A stitch in time: Cerruti 1881

As the house approaches its 50th birthday, chief creative officer Jason Basmajian reflects on how quality and elegance never go out of style


Cerruti 1881 was one of the first brands to bridge the gap between formal and informal dress to invent a new way of dressing for men - relaxed casual chic. The company will be 50 next year and while its founder, Nino Cerruti, doesn't own the brand anymore, we still have dialogues from time to time.

In 1881, Nino's grandfather founded the Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti wool mill in Biella, Italy, a region north of Milan that's long been renowned for producing quality fabrics for fine-wool and cashmere suits. Nino became head of the family business in 1951 and when he created his own menswear line in Paris in 1967, innovative textiles and luxury fabrics were the natural starting point for his designs.

This is why I'm taking the company back to go forward. I want to reclaim Cerruti 1881's brand DNA and build on it. For example, some of our fabric development is still done at the original mill and my first autumn/winter collection was all about understated, casual elegance. It's very masculine, but there's an ease and nonchalance to it because if a man feels comfortable and relaxed, he'll feel more confident.

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Cerruti 1881 has always been about sophisticated menswear that links tailoring and sportswear, which is very relevant to how men dress today. Nowadays, wearing well-cut trousers with a tailored coat says as much about style and elegance as wearing a suit, so we've really focused on outerwear pieces for winter, with the overcoat as the staple. I've created it in various silhouettes and colours and while there's very little black in the collection, the rich palette includes plum, burgundy, tobacco brown and duck-egg blue.

I took inspiration from garments and fabrics in the archive but instead of copying anything, I wanted to continue Nino's intelligent, individual approach to style – a philosophy that's stood the test of time.

JASON BASMAJIAN began his career in luxury menswear and worked at Calvin Klein and Donna Karan in New York, then ST Dupont in Paris. From there, he moved to Italian tailor Brioni as creative director, before being called upon to modernise Savile Row stalwart Gieves & Hawkes. He has been chief creative officer at Cerruti since 2015; cerruti.com

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