Luxury men’s shirts, the Carabinieri, Polizia, and a ring of Northern Italian thieves. How the hell did we get muddled up with this lot? Look, we know that Imperial Black shirts are run in the most limited of quantities and that on the best of days they can be rare as hen’s teeth, but are they actually worth stealing?


It’s a Tuesday in March and the skilled craftsmen at the Imperial Black workshop have stitched the last button and tallied a final count of the run.  Three new luxurious fabrics and a scant twenty-five shirts each.  Now a leisurely drive around the outskirts of Venice to the shipper. Spring is in the air so it’s a quick detour to join friends for a glass. Much laughter, talk about Juventus, and the sense of a job well done.  The day grows long and a realization that the exporter closes shortly. A short run to the van is rewarded by the sight of the Alfa’s back doors hanging open, a view of the van’s now empty interior positively gut wrenching.


The number 112 is dialed. Then 113. Now the quiet corner is buzzing with Carabinieri and Polizia.  Statements are taken and we are told that luxury thieves have been working northern Italy. The size of the thieves haul from Imperial Black is laughable, the Carabinieri let us know this. Jokes are made about calling Interpol for us. A loose shirt sits against the back seat and a Polizia officer inspects…Fingerprints aren’t dusted, no CSI trick takes place.  The fabric is touched, held between thumb and finger, the buttons are traced, and the shirt is held up to the interior dome light.  The officer smiles… “This is nice” as he rubs the fabric some more.


We stand on the street corner talking about fabric, about tailoring, and how even in Italy the old ways are vanishing. Two of the Carabinieri join us and are soon going over the shirt.  The collar is inspected as are the cuffs. Details of orange thread are questioned. Only in Italy could this exchange happen. The officers having a great sense of the place they inhabit, of the importance of craftsmanship in today’s world. We part ways jokingly promising to design shirts for both police forces and laughing about the single shirt taken as “evidence”.

Imperial Black Luxury men's shirt made in Italy

Fortunately, we have enough fabric left for twenty or so shirts of each style. The small limited run is a bit late getting out but has now arrived stateside. We open the boxes and re-tell the story to each other, absolutely beaming at how lovely the shirts came out. We say that all of our shirts are special, but these even more so. These are the ones that almost never existed.

Imperial Black Luxury shirts limited edition Keyser Soze

Somewhere between Venice, Rome, and Milan, there are some very well turned out thieves…and at least one Carabinieri officer in the perfect shirt.



Shirt Images by Daniel Gray Photography