THE FOUR SENSES OF A SILK TIE: THE CREATIVE ART OF COMO

2 minutes read

The success of the Italian tie industry in the world is essentially based on the quality of fabric, achieved by means of an accurate and thorough production process. In this case, "Italian " means primarily from the Como area, the world’s capital of silk fashion, whose reputation goes back to the 1920s, when Lyon, Vienna and London started declining in the market. In those years, the textiles manufactured in the Como area achieved international fame, due to their inventive flair. Qualities such as softness, smoothness, chromatic brightness, a refined touch and consistency rendered the fabric of extremely high quality.

 

Images from Como silk Museum

Even within the limited surface of a tie, these high-quality features are essential. When buying a silk tie, one might be unaware of the long process it undergoes before reaching its destination, ignoring the fact that the raw materials of various origins have undertaken a complex process of the removal of impurities. Subsequently, they are “processed,” in order to exhalt their natural consistency, dyed, dried, smoothed out, steamed, washed, and finished, all the while being passed from one machine to another and treated with particular chemicals. But at the end, when holding the fabric, feeling it, and appreciating its smooth, "peach-like touch," one cannot help but appreciate its sensual softness. Such qualities together render it an object of preference for its colour and design, so imbedded in the fabric with such adherence and detailed precision, that they seem intertwined, impressed on every fibre. This range of sensations is the result of the artisans’ handiwork. No advanced technology is capable of dulling such talent, or making it mechanically detached and repetitive.

 

handmade luxury printed tiesAn elegant shot with @kt_ishibashi from @knoxandtaylor

Nowadays, textile printing is begun and controlled by means of computer-aided systems. As in other trades, the operator no longer sits at the old drawing table with a sheet of graph paper before him. Instead, there is a CAD screen with a tablet and an electronic pencil, along with a mouse enabling him/her to outline virtual shapes and sizes and immediately check them through the printer. However, this job cannot be done without the help of a figure, so precious to the production chain so as often to be taken for granted: the tracer. This person skillfully marks the lines and “personalizes” them, transferring the transparent layers of paper to the photoengraver, who then impresses them with a “shot of light” onto a screen. Of course, one could skip the intermediate steps and pass directly from the graphic computer to the printing table, by simply feeding in punch-cards and operating a remote-control device. But machines cannot replace the skilled eye and gestures of an artisan. These instruments can only assist him, in order to simplify and accelerate the production rate.

 

It is important to fully understand why the artisan outcome and tailoring accuracy of a product are so important. Today modern machines are the collections of an ideal evolutive fusion of techniques devised and gradually modified over time (read more about  history of silk-printing in Como) Yet, these come from human practical experience and ingenuity of artisans from Como.

handmade italian tie

Text ispired by "Il tessuto stampato per cravatte" by Elena di Raddo & Enzo Pifferi 

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