Antonio Paone lives in two worlds.
One world subsists on his lucrative title as President of Kiton USA, a clothing brand that is the definition of tailoring, tradition, beauty— the pinnacle of luxury, the emblem of Neapolitan design. Kiton’s bespoke designs, gender neutral palettes and Italian touches make the brand as chic as it is unique.
The second world grew from the first world, but is in every way just as enchanting and passionate for Paone: in it, he is the CEO and President of Sartorio Napoli, a Milan fashion brand known for its haute couture pieces and craftsmanship.
Both these worlds subsist on one thing: Paone’s distinct sense of fashion.
In every interview across the web, this Italian style king is seen wearing a suit from his brands, beautiful leather shoes and watch, as well as the understated but in every way meaningful pocket square. Paone vehemently believes that fashion is self-expression and therefore fashion pieces should be of the highest quality, to help foster that sense of individuality.
My clients are different clients: they are looking for quality,” Paone explained in an interview with Haute Living. “They don’t want to show that they are wearing Kiton; they want to show they are wearing something for themselves.”
With this philosophy in mind, Paone ensures his stores feature clothes that elevate someone’s sense of style and are garments that make a difference in a customer’s life.
It all started years ago, when someone made a difference in his — and that someone was his uncle, Ciro Paone.
Ciro Paone and a community of Neapolitan tailors worked together to create the signature Kiton suit in 1968. The family grew up around suits, fabrics and trips to the factory and Paone, the nephew of a fashion mastermind, was no exception. Since he was a little boy, Paone would make trips to the factory, play with different fabrics, learn the family business and soon be old enough to accompany his uncle all around Europe, choosing styles to sell.
The start of his career under his uncle’s company, Paone worked as his driver, one day making his way up to Commercial Director. In 2006, he became the President. Through his whole career, there was one moment that defined the way Paone viewed his family’s brand.
“I was starting in 1992— I was 20 years old— and my uncle [took me to] the States to a strip in Dallas where it was the 90th anniversary of Neiman Marcus; he didn’t speak a word of English [so he] was using his hands to explain the quality of the Kiton brand,” Paone recalled. “I remember all the big CEOs and customers were listening to him like he was a professor, and it’s a lesson that keeps me thinking.”
Indeed, that was the day Paone learned how fashion can speak for itself. If a brand has the right philosophy and the right people and even more beautiful, valuable product, you can make a world of difference for your customers.
In the years since its debut, Kiton became a fashion powerhouse, managing 50 stores worldwide that reach both men and women audiences. In 2007, the grand success of Kiton allowed the Paone family to acquire the aforementioned Sartorio business. Paone became the Creative Director and then in 2017, the CEO.
Today, Sartorio has two stores, one in Milan and one in Vienna. The brand’s customers are all about looking “cool and different”, “contemporary and modern,” according to an interview with Paone. He hopes one day to expand into the US markets, allowing his second brand to go international.
With a brother brand like Kiton, Paone knows Sartorio has the foundation to go far.
This is because Kiton, unlike many fast fashion companies as well as other luxury brands, uses a vertically integrated manufacturing model. This means that the chosen materials for clothes are sourced from handpicked producers including Italy’s finest: Carlo Barbera Mill. The decision of the people behind the clothes ultimately allows the best experience for the people eventually buying them.
Recently, Kiton has opened a new store on Madison Avenue in New York City, with Paone personally seeing through the displays and the heavy focus on the female collections. According to Fashion Weekly, the company aims to have its female collections account for almost 50% of its sales in the next five years.
“At the end of the day, my companies are extensions of who I am and what I stand for,” Paone shared, meaningfully. “I listen to the people around me, tuning into the trends of our communities and I incorporate what I hear into my designs: we need more empathy and more understanding with one another, and we need to give each other that space to be an individual— and make a mark. My clothes are meant to represent that.”