Text by Mark Cho / Photo by Mark Cho
As someone still in the early stages of his career, I’m fascinated by the working habits of the greats, particularly how they use their time. Rich or poor, smart or slow, in a day we all have the same 24 hours to work with. How the greats use this limited resource, that is given equally to everyone, is of particular interest to me.
Antonio Liverano, one of the greatest tailors in the world, who cuts in the Florentine style, is today’s subject. Here’s how he spends his day:
5AM – Antonio wakes up, gets dressed and enjoys a simple breakfast of a pastry and a cafe macchiato.
6.45AM – Antonio departs from his home in the countryside to his shop in the city of Florence, sometimes by car and sometimes by train. Once he’s on the road, he starts thinking about work. He starts by thinking about the business as a whole, then recalling individual customers and their orders.
7.45AM – Antonio arrives at the shop. He is usually the first one to arrive. After checking the shop, he prepares the irons, starting them so they are ready to use when the other tailors arrive. Antonio’s first job at 8 years old when he first started in tailoring, was preparing the irons. Back then, irons needed to have lumps of hot coal placed into them by hand.
8.30AM – Antonio checks the work of the tailors from the day before. He is still intimately involved with all the garments, constantly doing quality control on everything that passes through the shop.
9.30AM – 1PM – Antonio spends most of his morning cutting customers’ orders.
1PM – 2PM – Lunch break. Antonio is now 78 years old. On some days, if he is feeling tired, he will return home early.
2PM – 7PM – Antonio continues to cut but also does some teaching and training with the younger tailors in the workshop. The workshop now has 8 tailors, 5 of which are under 40 and still in training. Antonio is passionate about tailoring and in training his apprentices. He looks for young people who are share that passion and he tries to grow them. In everything he does, he tries to transmit that passion and expects the same from his juniors.
7PM – Antonio returns home to eat dinner with his daughter’s family who live next door to him. His work starts early in the day but at 7pm, it ends and he does not dwell on work any further preferring to spend time with his family and recuperate, in bed by 10pm and ready for the next busy day.
Tailors stay in their profession all their lives. It is a difficult trade to master and it requires a lifetime of dedication. Often their businesses end when they retire. Antonio, a more modern tailor than his age belies, always has his eye on the horizon. His finest apprentices, such as Qemal Selimi and Takahiro Osaki, have been with him for nearly ten years and are now coming of age with the potential to take over from where he leaves off. I have enormous respect for his ability as a tailor but I am most impressed by his long term vision, to preserve his tailoring house and traditions and allow it to continue for another generation.