Meet John Bartello. I met John back in 2012 right after I won Canada’s Sharpest Man as he wanted to talk fashion with another style conscious man. I loved John’s passion for menswear and we instantly connected on many interesting topics. As we talked, I discovered we shared an Italian background, which in turn revealed that we mutually appreciated the classic sartorial look that the men of Europe’s boot shaped peninsula mastered.
At 33 years of age John has experimented with many different looks as all stylish men have. He has found what works for not only him but for the fashion conscious man. With that idea, John created Etrusca. Etrusca is a high quality men’s shirting line that is all exclusively made in Italy. John built Etrusca with one key idea; to make a product that balances the fine line between professional and edgy.
Below is John’s Style Profile:
What do you do for a living other than Etrusca?
I work in finance, specifically in the bond world. I’ve always been business orientated. It could be that it runs in the family. My dad’s side was very entrepreneurial with my grandfather being a grocer who at one point owned 7 stores. On my mom’s side, my uncle was a financier, whom I most closely follow from a career perspective. Right from grade school, I always knew I wanted to go into business. They would ask the usual question, what do you want to be when you grow up? My answer was clearly ambitions, to be CEO of my own corporation. In university I double majored in Business Administration and Accounting with a concentration in Finance. Immediately after I began writing the CFA exams and found a job on Toronto’s Bay Street. Since then I’ve continued to build upon a career in finance. I haven’t yet achieved my grade school goal, but hope ETRUSCA one day is recognizable on the global stage as a boutique brand offering beautiful products.
What inspired you to pursue fashion and ultimately start Etrusca?
ETRUSCA started while getting dressed one morning. I always struggled to find clothing that really reflected my personality; professional, but with some interest or edge. That morning I woke up at my usual time, 6am to get ready and be in the office for 7:30am. I remember looking into my closet and finding absolutely nothing that offered inspiration. Fashion has always been something I loved, but I never had a reason to focus on it. So that was it, right there and then I knew I had to offer a product that provided inspiration to start your day.
Describe your style:
You ask a stylish Italian this and often the immediate response is sprezzatura: the Italian art of looking good without trying too hard or as I like to put it, nonchalance alla Italiano. Of course to an extent this would describe my style, though it’s quite general. Rules are meant to be broken. I often show up to the office mixing stripes, polka dots, paisley and floral. Sometimes I like to roll up my cuffs just a little bit (about an inch). I do this more so because I like to keep my wrists free while I work, but I like how it keeps a formal look just a little casual and I don’t mind that it happens to show off a bit more of your shirt. Regardless of my little hints of sprezzatura I always like to keep it professional and enjoy wearing a well-tailored suit, usually with a wide peaked lapel.
Favorite item in your wardrobe:
I have a few shirts that I can’t live without, but considering I designed them, that response may be a little biased. Shirts aside I love bright socks and pocket squares. While traveling to Stockholm a couple of years ago, on impulse I picked up a silk pocket square with a blue paisley print. I love it because it looks good with just about anything. Also on impulse, I picked up a pair of silver cufflinks from a craft jeweller in the Old Souq, while in Doha, Qatar last year. I was walking through with a friend, as we turned into a laneway I saw this jeweller working on a beautifully intricate gold ring and I knew I had to buy something. The cufflinks are in the shape of little Arabic coffee pots and remind me how interesting new places can be.
You feel your best when wearing…
A well-tailored suit. In fact all men should feel their best in a well-tailored suit. If fitted properly it should accent your best features, feel comfortable and help camouflage your less desirable features. Choosing an appropriate style should also reflect your personality. The last suit I acquired is modern, single breasted with a single button and a wide peaked lapel, by a local independent tailor shop, Gian-Paolo Mazzotta. The suit fits perfectly with a slim silhouette and tapered leg; it has functional cuffs and is in a beautiful burgundy fabric.
Your sartorial pet peeve:
When you buy an overcoat or jacket and the back vent is stitched, gentlemen, please, please remove the stitching. I don’t know why, but I’ve seen far too many men walking down the street with the vent still stitched. It’s worse when the stitching is in a contrasting colour, left as if the wearer thought it was a style accent. Back vents on a garment serve a functional purpose; the stitching is there for packaging only.
In your opinion, what makes ETRUSCA unique in comparison to other brands?
While our emphases is always on Italian craftsmanship, I think it’s all the elements that come together to make one of our shirts. To start with, our designs are intended to walk the fine line between conservative and fashion forward. By using unique fabrics and adding touches of contrast, we strive to offer you a shirt that is both professional and interesting. After they’re designed, our shirts are 100% authentically crafted in Italy, in limited runs incorporating a number of manufacturer’s details to complement the craft quality. When purchasing an ETRUSCA shirt you’re not just purchasing a unique style or simply a well put together garment. You are purchasing an exclusive item that draws from Italy’s unique wealth of generations practicing the same craft, which we then combined with a modern perspective.
How did you decide that Italy was the ideal place for your brand to be associated with?
Being Italian I am proud of my heritage, so of course I’m a little biased. That said I grew up experiencing Italian traditions that started with pride in making something from scratch. If Nonna wanted pizza, she would get out the flour and start to prepare the dough. Tomato sauce for Sunday dinner would come from tomatoes grown in the garden and jarred to last the year. Salami was handmade and hung in the cantina to cure. She even had her own recipe for limoncello. With so many options for cheap poor quality, mass produced garments, I felt that there was a need to focus on craft made again. Italy has a long history of passing down skills from one generation to the next. With each step these skills were refined and evolved into the quality and style synonymous with Made in Italy today. While it costs more to produce in Italy where skilled workers manage much of the process by hand, the end result is a beautiful garment of much higher quality that will be cherished for much longer. Simply put, there is no substitute.
Where do you find your inspiration when designing a new collection?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. When small details of daily life jump out at you, they merge with past experiences to spark new and exciting emotions. These emotions in turn build upon the foundation of our brand, which is inspired by the Etruscan culture. From their purple robes later worn by Roman emperors to sophisticated art and unsurpassed jewelry, they laid the groundwork for the quality and style which we associate with garments made in Italy today. From a design perspective, we are inspired by the landscapes and small towns of Italy; the colourful villages rising from rolling hills, vibrant harvests of fresh produce and the cheerful culture. Seeing images of all these scenes blended together, but with the colours blaring through is what dictates the texture, colour and pattern in each fabric we select.
What can people expect from ETRUSCA in the future?
In the near future we look towards adding accessories and developing a women’s line of shirts. Down the road we plan to offer a full range collection for both men and women. Our ultimate goal is that ETRUSCA becomes globally recognized as a boutique brand offering inspiration to start your day.
For more info on Etrusca visit: etruscamadeinitaly.com.
Thanks again John for talking to us!