E. Marinella: The nobility of neckties

LUMINOSITY ITALIA

On the Piazza Vittoria, one of the premier addresses in Naples for men’s fashion, the historic E. Marinella boutique continues to display the classic elegance born from its pedigree stretching back to 1914.

Maurizio Marinella, the third generation of family entrepreneurs, spent a great deal of time in the shop as a boy when it was only a cramped 20 square meters. The same locale is now the E. Marinella maison internationally renowned for its iconic neckties. Today the family business also has boutiques in Milan, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Luxury ties of E. Marinella
Maurizio Marinella consults with then Presidente della Repubblica Giorgio Napolitano in the family maison on Piazza Vittoria founded in 1914.

“Soon after Easter we are opening a flagship store in Rome at Campo Marzio, while next year we will open a boutique in New York,” says Maurizio. Currently E. Marinella neckties are available at Bergdorf & Goodman at 754 Fifth Avenue.

Maurizio starts talking about his family legacy, and the more he talks, the more he discovers what brought that connection full circle — his “nonno” Eugenio and his father Luigi shared the same great passion for what they did. He too is doing what he really loves.

In 1914, Maurizio’s grandfather, the entrepreneurial Eugenio Marinella, opened the small shop on Piazza Vittoria, but probably even he did not dream that his neckties would one day become the preferred choice of presidents, the nobility and international movie stars.

Eugenio’s courage and initiative to sell fine men’s clothing where Neapolitan high society promenaded along the elegant Riviera di Chiaia paid great dividends. He started by bringing the latest fashions from London, then the height of trendiness, to the discerning in southern Italy, a business approach that later expanded to a vast range of exclusive products imported through his sole rights from English suppliers.

“My grandfather Eugenio had a big love for England and his dream was recreating a corner of England in Naples,” says Maurizio.
Eugenio, Luigi and Maurizio Marinella
Three generations: Founder Eugenio, his son Luigi and a young Maurizio Marinella.

At age 34 when Eugenio opened his shop he had already developed the now-famed E. Marinella philosophy: The salon is more than a sales point. Instead it is a place where human relationships develop through attentiveness, courtesy and respect.

The original shop not only made history, it also witnessed a great deal of it: Two world wars, the decline of the ancient nobility, the appearance of a new middle class and American markets that brought substantial changes to the fashion industry.

In the beginning, the main activity of the shop was selling shirts, not ties. It was so successful that Eugenio persuaded artisan shirt-makers without equal to move from Paris to teach his workers the art of the cut.

Maurizio, who earned a degree in economics, today continues Eugenio’s vision and philosophy, making E. Marinella ties a global symbol of elegance and refinement. In the years before he died, Don Eugenio required Maurizio, starting from a young age, to spend parts of every day in the shop so he could breathe its character.

“Well, I can say I was in the shop since I was 8. I was practically born there,” he laughs spontaneously.

While absorbing the shop’s atmosphere, Maurizio received two profound insights: From his grandfather, he learned the importance of relationships with loyal clientele and from his father the need to grasp the economic boom underway at the time in Italy.

And true to those visions, Maurizio continues to follow both paths. The boutique at Piazza Vittoria opens at 6.30 am, offering Neapolitan sfogliatelle and coffee to clients who are waiting. It is a place where a glance, an encounter, a chat can make lifelong bonds. “Certain mornings we could close the shop even at 9 a.m. considering the large number of people who already passed through,” says Maurizio. “Where logic ends, Naples begins,” he says with a laugh.

In modern times the dynamic business has adapted to serve the elegant from across the world in a discreet, convivial and informal atmosphere through corner shops and boutiques. Their first two outside Naples were, and are today, in Milan at via Alessandro Manzoni 23 and at via Santa Maria alla Porta 5.

“Our company is a miracle. It will certainly operate into the fourth generation,” he says.

“Our marketing strategy is the simplest and the oldest: traditional word of mouth is the cornerstone that makes our ties known in the most effective ways. We don’t use e-commerce, we prefer ‘phone’ commerce. We fancy talking to our customers, we like to interact with those who are undoubtedly our best ambassadors,” Marinella says. “We like to pamper them and convey the idea of a beautiful Napoli that works, not a Naples associated with problems and trash. We want to convey the beautiful side of Naples.”

His joie de vivre is infectious, endearing and a bit other worldly compared to many businessmen.

The maison generates domestic revenues of 13 million euros a year, with sales continuing to increase in Italy. And as its Neapolitan allure spreads internationally, annual turnover has reached 18 million euros when exports are included.

“Japanese people like the material, design and quality of our ties so much,” he says. “They are in love with E. Marinella because they are masters of form and big fans of Neapolitan songs and Toto movies.”
Fine neckties of E. Marinella
“A necktie represents a sunny day, an emotion,” says Marinella. “Follow your instinct when you choose a tie. Be creative and dare, please dare.”

His tailored handmade ties have dressed all U.S. presidents starting from John Kennedy up to Barack Obama, with former First Lady Michelle wearing E. Marinella scarves. The ties were favorites of iconic film director Luchino Visconti, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and industrial tycoon Gianni Agnelli. Winston Churchill, Silvio Berlusconi and the majority of Italian Presidenti della Repubblica have breathed a sense of style into politics by wearing E. Marinella ties.

“Churchill loved the red ones; he had a great number of them,” says Maurizio. The male members of British, Spanish and Monaco royal families also have a preference for E. Marinella ties. The maison recently designed ties for Real Madrid soccer players including superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Twenty-five years ago, when my father was still alive, we received a letter from Donald Trump who was offering a store at Trump Tower,” Marinella says out of the blue. “We rejected the offer since my father didn’t even know who Trump was and at the time we wanted to stay in Naples only,” he says. “But now they say that Mr. Trump has developed a passion for Italian tailoring and ties, and especially for Brioni, E. Marinella and Ferretti.”

What are the new E. Marinella trends in ties?

“We have a new collection each week. The trend of the moment is different nuances of light blue, classic blue and an explosion of colors.”

They can be knitted silk, tweed or flannel monochrome with subtle tonal and textural differentiation, but the lining of a E. Marinella tie, its internal spine, is a combination of wool and cotton. “The former confers softness, the latter provides fullness,” says Maurizio.

The conversation turns to the lack of dressing sense among the people of today. “I have to tell you, when I see all these persons coming out of cars and buses dressed all in black and grey, I am stunned. For the past 20 years they haven't known much about the art of dressing like people did 30 years ago. In those days, they knew exactly how to dress for every occasion, the morning, afternoon and night.”

Fashion’s love of the tie could actually have do with swinging it around.

“American studies confirmed the tie as a phallic symbol and also each knot has its own connotations,” he says. But even before those studies, Freud wrote in his Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1933): “In the dreams of men, one often finds the necktie as a symbol for the penis; not only because neckties hang down in front of the body, and are characteristic of men, but also because one can select them at pleasure, a freedom which nature prohibits as regards the origins of the symbol.”

So how to choose the right necktie when the occasion arises or when given as a personal or even business gift?

“A necktie represents a sunny day, an emotion”, says Marinella. “Ties don’t have to match with dress. Follow your instinct when you choose a tie. Be creative and dare, please dare.”