The drive from Monaco to Como, Italy is absolutely beautiful, passing along the seaboard of Liguria and heading north at Genoa, past Milan, towards the foot of the Alps in Lombardy. It’s a drive that Aneta and I have been fortunate enough to take many times since our manufacturing partner is located in the area. In fact, between Lake Como and the Swiss border exists an entire industry of textile production, printing, and manufacturing – one of the largest in Europe.
This is where we first went to learn about what goes into creating an artisanal accessory, and it’s where we came back many times to see our own collection finally take shape. One might think that creating a square piece of fabric is easy, but there’s more to it than meets the eye – the process is actually very involved.
After driving around to each of the different mills and seeing first-hand our own accessories go through each step, I want to share with you how an accessory like a scarf or pocket square is actually made.
1) Gluing: The fabric is glued onto sheets in order to make it taut and ready for printing. It is important to make sure there aren’t any folds or creases or the design won’t print correctly.
2) Sampling: Every design is printed in numerous different ways before a specific print type and setting is chosen for final production. The goal is to ensure exquisite print quality on both the front and back sides of the accessory. The image must be true to the original design, colors must be vivid, and fine details can never be compromised.
3) Printing: Designs are printed onto the fabric either digitally or via the screen-printing method. The method used depends on the type of image, the number of colors, and the fabric type.
4) Washing: The printed fabric is washed in boiling water and rinsed numerous times. This process sets in the color and removes the glue from the Gluing stage.
5) Finishing: The name of this step is a bit of a misnomer as it’s not yet the end of the process. At this stage, the material is specially treated to give it the right feel, softness, and “glow.” The process varies depending on the type of material used and the desired “hand”.
6) Making: This is the final step. Each scarf and pocket square is cut from the fabric and then hand-hemmed to create a truly luxurious product. This time-consuming, manual process ensures that edges and corners are skillfully rolled to achieve the ideal drape and fold while also preventing fraying.
Since much of this process is done manually, it usually takes 6-8 weeks to finish an order. The step of rolling and finishing the hems alone can take 2-3 weeks as every accessory is expertly stitched by hand.
Most problems and delays usually occur during sampling. Seeing an artwork on paper or a computer screen is one thing but translating it to fabric can be quite difficult. Materials react to dyes in different ways and various colors can affect one another.
For example, navy blue tends to bleed on a creme colored base unless it is bordered by another dark color. Designs can be altered slightly to adjust for these issues but, in practice, only true expertise can resolve the numerous problems that arise during printing.
By working with family-owned mills and factories, we ensure that every pocket square, scarf, and necktie in our collection is created from start to finish by local craftsmen with decades of experience in fabric printing and textile production. These men and women help us to realize our vision of art on fabric by providing their input and know-how every step of the way. The result is a larger collaboration essentially, one between the artist, the brand, and the maker.