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Italian magic... the making of a scarf collection

9th September 2019

If you’ve never thought about how our scarves are made before, or if you’re keen to find out just how those designs get transferred from drawing to fabric, read on for an insight into the ‘making of’ our latest silk scarf collection, Wild Frontier.

The stunning views over Lake Como, a stone's throw from our scarf factory in the hills.

With a setting in the foothills surrounding Lake Como in northern Italy, our factory was chosen for its history, ethical and environmental credentials, and the sheer commitment to craftsmanship and quality at every step of the production process. The jaw-droppingly beautiful location is just an added bonus, we promise!

"It’s been said that creating luxurious and exquisite fabrics was perfectly suited to the aesthetics of the area"

In fact, textiles has been at the heart of Como’s existence for hundreds of years, dating back to the Middle Ages. With silkworms first arriving to the eastern Mediterranean from China in the sixth century, breeding of silkworms then spread to Sicily and further north. Como was ideally located for fabric manufacture; with the large water supply of the lake, and the fertile mulberry farming valley area to the south. It’s also been said that creating luxurious and exquisite fabrics was perfectly suited to the aesthetics of the area, with its stunning landscapes of Swiss peaks and the sparkling lake. By the 18th century, Como had established itself as a leader in the field, and Italy’s largest silk producer, a tradition that continues to this day.

Wearing the new Frontier silk scarf by the lake.

We took a trip to Como at the height of summer (although thankfully it wasn’t QUITE as hot as during the heatwave they had the previous week)… to see our latest scarf collection, Wild Frontier, being printed and finished.

While the region has a long history in textiles, in 2019 the facilities are far from old-fashioned. The mills in the area have modernised and innovated, in part driven by a need to compete on a global level, and also to meet environmental targets. The factory we work is an industry leader in sustainability; committed to the reduction of water and harmful chemicals in the production process, and were the first textile business worldwide to sign up to the Greenpeace Detox campaign.

Left: Rolls of pristine fabric, ready for printing. Right: The blank fabrics are checked carefully before being approved for printing.

Walking into the thoroughly modern facility, rolls and rolls of fabric are stacked up ready for printing. These silks, wools, modals and cashmeres are spun from the raw fibres, and woven into cloth, at one of the factory’s other facilities, in Southern Italy, before being transported north to Como. The blank fabrics are carefully checked before printing, even ensuring the base colour is the correct shade of white throughout the whole roll. The fabrics are prepared with a special coating before printing, to allow the inks to adhere to the fabric, before being loaded onto the hi-tech digital printing machines.

"a perfect combination between analogue and digital to create exquisite textiles"

Arriving into the hi-tech print facility to see our Wild West design in production!

At this point, the hand drawn designs for the Wild Frontier collection have already been scanned and digitally coloured in London, and transferred onto the software in Italy that communicates with the printer. The machine technicians are extremely skilled, and make sure the resolution, printing quality and colour is correct as the designs start to print straight onto the fabric.

The printing technicians are highly skilled, and use tools like extensive fabric colour swatches to ensure correct colours across the production of a design.

This process itself is mesmerising, and seeing the designs appear before our eyes was truly magical! We watched as the Wild West design was printed onto fine merino wool, in a range of different colours. The digital machinery picks up and replicates the incredible detail from the hand-drawn designs brilliantly; a perfect combination between analogue and digital to create exquisite textiles. 

The digital printing technology is the perfect way to replicate the detailed hand-drawn artwork and range of bright colours in the designs.

The Wild West design is printed in its Violet colourway onto a fine merino wool.

After printing, the fabrics need to be steamed, to fix the inks to the fabrics, as well as bringing out the true, rich colour from the dyes. The fabrics are still hung onto the steamers by hand, and checked afterwards to ensure there are no blemishes or water spots on the metres and metres of fabric. Following steaming, the fabrics are washed to remove all excess dyes, and dried, ready for finishing.

Left: Fabrics are hung up for steaming after printing. Right: The piece being held has already been steamed - showing the difference it makes in bringing out the rich and vibrant colours.

Having been printed, steamed and washed, the fabrics then arrive in the finishing department. Here they are pressed, and the edges finished according to the desired outcome. For our wool scarves and shawls, the edges are cut precisely to the edge of the print, using a handheld tool, before being fringed by hand - this is where individual threads are pulled away from the edges to create that elegant fringe that appears on all of our wool and modal/cashmere blend scarves. For our silk scarves, which are hand-rolled, they are send out to individual craftswomen in the foothills around Como, who still do this skilled job individually by hand, to create that beautiful rolled edge that is iconic to the silk scarf.

"we hope you will feel just a touch of that Como Italian magic in each piece you own and treasure"

Checking over scarves in the finishing facility.

Here, scarves are finished by hand, before being packed and prepared for dispatch.

Seeing all of the processes that go into each scarf, as well as the incredible craftsmanship and skill involved, left us in no doubt that the 'Made in Italy' label deserves the prestige it commands, and that we are lucky indeed to be producing our scarves in one of the finest textile facilities in the world. Each scarf has a huge amount of care and attention involved in its production, and we hope you will feel just a touch of that Como Italian magic in each piece you own and treasure. Now for the only acceptable finish to a trip to Italy - a gelato by the lake!

Ciao Como!

A trip to Como wouldn't be complete without gelato! Wearing the Frontier silk chiffon scarf (left) and Frontier silk skinny scarf (right).

Click here to shop our latest scarf collection...

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