Sunday, April 27, 2008

Repurposed Silk in Como, Italy

Nestled within the picturesque town of Como, Italy, the 100-year-old silk company Mantero Seta SpA is famous for producing beautiful high-end fabrics that are seen on the most fashionable designer runways. More recently, the company has dedicated itself to consciously promoting ethical and environmentally friendly fabric products. As part of this new commitment, the company opened LaTessitura, a combination concept store, gallery, and cafĂ©. Even the building is recycled—it’s a former silk-weaving factory.

For textile enthusiasts, the store looks like a giant candy land; displays constantly change, and color schemes match the colors of the season. On one wall of the enormous warehouse space, rolls of printed and jacquard-woven silks in a myriad of colors and patterns bombard the senses. These salvage fabrics may be purchased by the meter or chosen for a customized product. The store sells overstocks from many of the collections whose fabrics are licensed by Mantero. Included are hats, bags, and shirts for men and women by designers such as Pucci and Viktor & Rolf, as well as silk jacquard ties and foulards.

The most exciting products, however, are the variety of inventive accessories and objects made from pre-consumer textile products. Ties have been used to make notebook covers, wallets, hats, belts, skirts, and even small knick-knack boxes. Fuzzy Cimiziola slippers are made from the fringed selvedge of woven silk. Previously just cut off and thrown away, the jewel-toned remnants form a colorful, soft pile fabric that looks and feels like giant chenille.

Mantero develops these products with a firm commitment towards zero waste. The company creates fabrics for many of the most famous fashion designers in the world who often invoke severe licensing agreements regarding excess and misprinted fabrics. In the name of exclusivity, some designers require immediate destruction of all excess recognizable fabrics; others stipulate a time period such as five years before the fabric can be reused. Mantero figured out a way to shred silk fabric—rendering it unrecognizable and thus resuable--and combine it with wool to create a blended felt. The resulting Resilk appeared on the market in September 2006. Resilk uses minimal resources, and there are no added chemicals. This new, sustainable material has a softer hand than traditional felt yet can be laser cut, dyed, and molded. While its heat resistant properties make it ideal for interiors, La Tessitura also carries a variety of innovative, unique Resilk accessories including belts and bags.


Note: this is an excerpt from an article by Susan Taber Avila originally published in the Sept./Oct. 2007 issue of Fiberarts Magazine

2 comments:

adrin said...

Wonderful blog post.

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cotton tapestries said...

now i really have to visit italy ! Wonderful post. Thank you.