Kiton: The Best of the Best +1

Kiton prides itself on sourcing the best fabrics and making the finest clothes in the world. It's operating model is designed to ensure nothing produced is less than perfect.

Business Model

The Kiton website says their philosophy is simple: work hard to achieve perfection, and if you can’t, start over again.

This epitomizes the company’s business model, which is built on the concept of providing the absolute highest quality product with a personalized experience, enabling customers to showcase their personal style. The motto of the company is “The Best of the Best +1” and the name Kiton is actually a play on the word “chitone,” which was a special garment worn by Greek aristocrats, and was “a symbol of classicism, quality, and social distinction.

Operating Model

Kiton Buttonhole               Kiton Sewing

Quality thru sourcing and production

Kiton believes that quality begins before the suit is ever cut and sewn. It begins with the sourcing of the raw materials, which is why they go to such great length to acquire the best fiber in the world.

One example is the cashmere used in Kiton’s suits, pants, and sweaters. For goat hair to be considered chasmere, it must be 19 microns, or less, in thickness, and come from the belly of a specific goat. Cashmere’s quality is based on the uniformity, cleanliness, and length of the fibers harvested. Kiton only sources their cashmere from Scotland and England at specific farms, and only from baby Mongolian goats. Additionally, they only use cashmere fibers 14 microns or thinner, which is considered to be at the highest end of quality.

Once the fiber is acquired, it put be weaved at textile mills into cloth. Kiton purchased its own textile mill, the Carlo Barbera mill, in order to vertically integrate their operations and ensure that their standard for quality was met throughout the entire process of production. Once the bolts of fabric are made, with the patterns prescribed by the creative designers at Kiton, they are then sent to the factory to be turned into clothes.

Quality thru expertise

Aligning with custom designs and personalized garments, the factory at Kiton contains almost no machines. Kiton exclusively employs master tailors, who by definition are capable of building an entire suit from scratch. Each suit is sewn by hand by the master tailors according to the precise measurements of the customer, and each tailor is responsible for the quality of his or her work – there are no quality inspectors, just the word of the tailors that the garment is complete and correct.

Clearly this system requires the highly skilled tailors to ensure quality, which is why Kiton founded a tailoring school that accepts 12 new students each year. The apprentices complete two years of training, free of charge, and then up to 40% are offered positions at Kiton, and the rest may seek employment at other companies. The school was created after the CEO realized that the average age of his employees was 55, and since the creation of the program it has dropped to 36. This system ensures that skills are maintained and that there will always be a steady supply of talent to create and build the best clothes in the world.

Kiton Factory

Long Lasting Personal Relationships

A final part of Kiton’s operating model is matching the superior quality with an unrivaled customer service experience. Kiton will travel to the office or home of any customer to complete a fitting, and will alter a custom made garment, free of charge, for life. So as a client may gain weight, he can always have his suit altered to fit his changing body type at any time. Kiton also offers any client who happens to be in Italy the opportunity to tour the factory and see the production floors where their clothes have been made, adding yet another personal touch.



Interview with Peter Davis, General Manager Kiton New York.  6 August 2015


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Student comments on Kiton: The Best of the Best +1

  1. Thanks a lot for the article. I really enjoyed it. I am from Naples and I know Kiton as firm very well.

    I think you have very well described their operating model. One thing that you highlighted that i found very important is the Kitons’ school.
    Half the people who do the school as you suggested end up working at Kiton. By doing it, Kiton has solved such an important issue which is lack of talent .

    In addition I think it is also important to say that Kiton has well managed to scale globally having now presence in several countries and currently for instance is trying to become stronger and stronger in Asia.

  2. Interesting concept! If feels as though this space is exploding right now with many entrants like Combatant Gentleman, Blank Label, Indochino, etc. are performing similar services with slightly different approaches. Some require measurements to be sent in via email, some require presence at a physical location, but none have the on-the-spot service that you describe above. I’m curious how this affects the price point of the suits, but from the highly involved manufacturing and apprenticeship process you detailed above it appears they’re targeting a more affluent consumer. Are they able to reach consumers in the US? What is the price of a basic cashmere suit? I’m curious to see how the business fares in the resurgence of a hand-made garment trend–it should be promising!

  3. Enjoyed reading about Kiton! My friends in the industry (who seem like they know what they’re talking about) always mention Kiton as the benchmark for tailored perfection – interesting to learn more about how they specifically work towards that.

    From a business perspective I’m curious what kind of financial performance they’re able to deliver…from my experience many fashion companies often worry less about the cost side of the business. It’d be interesting to learn how Kiton (and other brands) actually perform.

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