Italy has long been associated with the weaving and production of fine textiles since hundreds of years. Time honoured traditions have been handed down through the generations with globally recognised brands having their roots deeply seeded in Italy. Those who have been lucky enough to sleep in Italian Duvet Covers and bed linens know what quality means. Over the last 40 years as the Far East and other low cost destinations flourished servicing the mass market, mass produced volume business, Italy suffered with many smaller factories and weaving mills going out of business, driven by this culture of low cost manufacturing.
However, as consumers become more and more selective as to what products they want to buy, how they are made, what materials are used and the brand associated to those products, Italy still provides the leading hub for manufacturing quality products. With a large percentage of luxury textiles woven in the North of Italy, and areas such as Como, Bergamo and Torino renowned for fabrics such as silks, fine cottons and wools, Italy is still considered the home to the best brands in home textiles and bedding.
In addition to the knowledge and craftsmanship of Italian textile mills, the physical aspect of weaving bed linens and bedding means the looms to weave the fabrics has to be extrude wide – 120” or 300 cm or more. These Italian looms have the ability to weave very fine cottons as example including the highest blends of Egyptian, Puma and Sea Island Cottons. This knowledge of weaving has been passed down generations within family businesses, leaving fascinating archives of fabrics that have been produced over the last 100 years.
The term thread count is widely used by companies to say they have a quality product ( the higher the thread count the better ) but in fact this is not true as its dependent of the quality of the yarn and the fabric itself. So you can have a super high quality 300 or 600 thread count fabric that feels better than a “ 1000 + thread count. Italian woven fabrics have what is called a nice hand to them, they feel right on the skin, they feel high quality and you can easily feel the difference between a cheap satin cotton and a quality one.
The Italian mills also have specialty finishing and dyeing techniques on fabrics that can give as example a soft vintage finish on Egyptian cotton by taking the fabric and washing it in old Italian hot baths to yarn died fabrics that have incredibly rich and deep colours and more. This craftsmanship is what Italy became famous for.
The pride of the skilled workers and weavers in Italy are a far cry from the mass-market Far East production lines. The skill in finishing and sewing goods in Italy is so different, often handmade depending on the product. Many in fact consider the skills at a artisan level. From simple details of quality of zips to embroidery to the standard of how it’s folded and packed, everything is focused on quality.
This concept of industrially handmade, where small sewing rooms focus on smaller production runs means the bed linens and bedding almost have a personal touch to them. And importantly, knowing the conditions of which are produced and the materials used in the production has become more and more prevalent to consumers.
If you ask any leading retailers who are the top brands in duvet covers and bed linens, most of the Italian manufactured brands will come up. Indeed many of the top USA designer brands, source their fabrics from Italy, again moving production out of the Far East as consumer habits change.
Italy itself has severe financial problems as a country, but the traditional Italian textile industry is trying to adapt, adopting new working methods, faster times to market and more competitive pricing combined with the still present Italian design and quality ethos. Indeed the “ Made In Italy “ line has long been associated with quality and style, perhaps now consumers start to value it more than ever.
With the advent of direct to consumer home textile ecommerce businesses, cutting out middle men, offering a unique product range that is both quality and design led whilst fair value for money, means once again Italy will hopefully be on the lips and bedrooms of all customers – Lovingly Made in Italy.