A young woman named Rosanna had a talent: with a needle and thread, she made beautiful shirts coveted by the Who’s Who of Bologna.
Rosanna loved making shirts. But she wanted to make them better. She obsessively refined her skills for the next twenty years, attending Italian tailoring schools of the highest order.
Rosanna fell in love with Luciano. A dashing young man who lit up every room he entered with his smile and bone-dry humour. Nick-named “The Accountant,” he had a successful corporate career with Ducati, the storied motorbike maker, also of Bologna.
Rosanna and Luciano married. They had a child and named her Manuela.
The first milestone came in 1959. Rosanna finally gathered the courage to set up her own atelier. Luciano, knowing his wife’s time would be better spent with shirts than with numbers, joined her. With a clever tribute to their little daughter, MAROL was born:
MA for Manuela. RO for Rosanna. L for Luciano.
A young Rosanna and Luciano.
A very young Manuela, already hard at work.
1960s, the beginning.
Rosanna measuring an Italian senator.
Fate works in funny ways.
Unlike her mother, Manuela was not born a shirtmaker. Ironically, she wished to be anything but.
“I saw my mother suffer, saw the sacrifices she made,” says Manuela. “I did not want to live like that.”
Rosanna existed for fine shirts and fine shirts only. Calling the shirts her actual children would not be far from the truth. Her relationship with Manuela was distant and strained.
Not the poster-child of your stereotypical Italian family hoo-ha. This is real life.
Fortunately, Luciano was the polar opposite. He doted upon young Manuela. They had weekly father-daughter dates. He sent her to study in Switzerland and England - mastering new languages while expanding her view of the world. Manuela respected her father profoundly. But the thought of accepting the torch had not crossed her mind.
Things changed in 1980 when Luciano decided to take action. With an expanding global reputation and business, albeit only amongst connoisseurs, Luciano asked Manuela to give him a hand two days a week.
“You can’t say no to your father,” recalls Manuela.
She never left the atelier again.
Fortunately for MAROL’s customers, she soon found her mother’s passion for creating clothing of extraordinary beauty—or rather, it found her.
With her mother’s hands and her father’s smile, Manuela propelled MAROL to the height of international prestige—dressing men and women who not only want the best, but also understand it.
Manuela and Luciano accepting an award for artistic craftsmanship in 1992.
Manuela and her father Luciano.
Manuela in our Bologna atelier.
Luciano and Rosanna passed away in succession in the 2000s, as MAROL celebrated its 50-year anniversary.
In the true spirit of Italian artisanship, they passed away at their work tables. The very places they laboured tirelessly for five decades. They gave their entire lives to MAROL in the most literal fashion.
When asked, Manuela always cites the greatest lesson learned from her parents: “They taught me to be honest.”
Rosanna, shortly before her passing.
Luciano taking care of shipments.
Today, in the same glorious city of endless porticoes, in the very same neighborhood as its founding, the house of MAROL is alive and well.
Today, each shirt created, whether classic or visionary, preserves the soul of Northern Italian craftsmanship instilled by Rosanna and Luciano over six decades ago. An ideal alchemy of beauty, function and above all, the highest degree of integrity.
Today, Manuela is still at her desk, square in the middle of the workshop, critiquing the latest bolt of precious shirting. Like her mother before her. Throwing in the occasional quip. Like her father used to.
Today, with the renewed leadership of our new co-owner, Bo Yang, MAROL is embarking on a new journey. A journey of sharing not only our shirts but also our story, to the discerning few.
It is a story worth telling.
The entire MAROL family, including Oscar the dog.
Strength. Function. Beauty. Convictions behind every MAROL shirt.
Crafted to become old friends for years to come.
Long before we were a company, we were a shirtmaker. Twenty years, to be exact.
When Rosanna started, it wasn’t a career. It was an obsession. She did everything in her power to elevate the quality not of her business, but of her shirts. Not to impress a paying customer, but to satisfy herself. The shirtmaker.
This mentality stuck. It drives painstaking steps in our craft today no one will ever see. Visibility does not matter. They exist in the blind solely for the sake of a better shirt.
Because we were first a shirtmaker.
The age-old practice of Dritto Filo—removing a thread from the warp of
the fabric by hand. Using the gap left by the missing thread to cut
a perfectly straight line when required.
Re-cutting the neck-hole of each shirt by hand after the front and back
panels have been stitched together. Ensuring absolute precision
of the neck shape before attaching the collar.
Hand-pressing woven labels bearing our name before attaching, to
prevent pulling or puckering during laundry.
Matching the distance between stripes across the two front panels of
patterned shirts. Across the inside collar band and down the back.
Not to show. But to feel. To know.
Unlike a jacket, a shirt leads a trying life: worn, hung, washed, not washed, pressed, worn again. Lived in. We make shirts for real life. They hold up to washes. They can be cared for with ease. They soften. They age elegantly, for many years. With you.
Because we were first a shirtmaker.
Thankfully, our craft is not all invisible.
13 stitches in every centimeter of our seams. 2 millimetre side seams and bottom hems. The finest we know of.
An overlap at the bottom of the front panel. To prevent unsightly stretches (perhaps during superb dinners).
A side gusset shaped like a little house. Or casa in Italian.
A hand-attached sleeve, with hand-sewn seams widening gradually from armpit to sleevehead. Balancing maximum comfort with a clean, athletic silhouette.
Hand-cut, hand-sewn buttonholes when fabrics are deemed suitable. In the name of beauty.
Silks from Como. Cotton and linen hand-picked from Egypt and the Caribbean islands. Mother-of-pearl buttons from Australia.
House-shaped gusset and our signature stitching.
Front panel overlap and hand cut/hand sewn buttonholes.
Opening and sewing buttonholes by hand. Applied selectively to tightly-woven fabrics.
A MAROL shirt is a second skin. It becomes a part of you. It elevates you. Strengthens you. Readies you for the world. Yet we hope you hardly know it’s there.
We have been honoured to make shirts, in utmost discretion, for customers who excelled, performed, led, fought, won, entertained, inspired. Not for “influencers,” but people of influence. For decisionmakers.
But in the end, clothing is not important. Elegance is not conscious. Put on our shirts with care, then get on with it. Live.
That is the ultimate form of luxury.
Our denim shirt worn with a navy blazer and a grenadine tie.
To understand our artisans, one must first understand Bologna. And the city’s three nicknames capture Bologna’s personality perfectly.
“The Learned” refers to the University, founded in 1088, the oldest in the Western World.
“The Red” refers to the terracotta bricks, expressing the culture of craftsmanship and artistry built into every vaulted archway.
And “The Large” refers, famously, to the result of indulging in the city’s fine culinary tradition, including its sumptuous, eponymously named ragù.
Surrounded by such depth of beauty, history, and art, one has to be made of stone not to be affected.
The city sets the standard for our artisans—a direct line connecting every portico in Bologna with every stitch in a MAROL shirt.
It takes a village to raise a child. A family to make a shirt. And we are a family. Many of us have been working together long enough to feel like true mothers and sisters.
Mothers and sisters because in the Italy of old and the MAROL of today, women make shirts (while men made suits). As Manuela says, “women have delicate hands.”
Valeria, with us for seventeen years, hand-cuts your shirt.
Claudia crafts the collar and the cuffs.
Rosa sews buttonholes and mother of pearl buttons.
Nadia, who has spent over five decades with us, re-cuts the neckhole after the front and back panels have been stitched together to ensure perfect precision and neatness, before the collar is attached.
Lucia presses each shirt by hand, including the woven label, to prevent it from stretching or puckering under laundry.
And the final person in that line is, of course, you. You will not only have the pleasure of wearing the shirt, you will care for it. Building your own connection to the soul of our company.
From Rosanna—a direct line connected to every craftsperson in our atelier. And, in the end, to you.
Our signature one-piece Holiday Collar shirt.
We care equally about how we craft our shirts and the people who craft them.
We do not believe in "mercenaries" to craft our shirts - anonymous craftspeople, however skilled, whose singular focus is receiving the next job, from whoever is willing to pay for the job in question.
Our artisans deserve better. They deserve job security to start or maintain a family. They deserve social security contributions to see them through a happy retirement. They deserve a dignified working environment where they are treated with professionalism and kindness - like any other (highly skilled) occupation.
In today's garment industry, where enduring quality is finally receiving deserved attention, we endeavour to give the same attention to our unique family of women who make it all possible.
They deserve nothing less.