WE ARE ARTISAN: FERLA
SPOKEN FOR: THE TRUE MEANING OF BESPOKE
Italian luxury cloth brand Ferla are an artisan mill, We talk to CEO Paolo Ferla about the true meaning of Bespoke and all things British.
Q: HOW DID YOUR GRANDFATHER DEVELOP THE FERLA MILL WITH WHEEL-WATER ELECTRICITY AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES?
Water has always been a key factor for the local Biella textile industry. The Ferla family’s first plant was by a river and very close to the so-called “wheel factory” – a former woollen mill that’s one of the best examples of industrial archaeology. My grandfather invested in new looms and state-of-the-art technology, and in the 1920s
he bought the much wider and convenient area where our mill is currently located.
Q: YOUR FATHER WAS SAID TO BE VERY KEEN ON ENGLISH STYLE, IN PARTICULAR, TWEED. HOW DID IT INSPIRE HIM?
I think that for a person working in our sector, English style is a timeless source of inspiration. My father had the opportunity to travel to the UK and visited some mills in the Huddersfield region. He was very fond of your textile tradition and decided to develop new tweeds and lambswool fabrics, but wanted to do his own interpretation in terms of yarns, patterns and colours. The Italian twist was the winning factor for our company and the line was so different from the other Biella mills, which specialised in worsted fabrics for suits.
Q: HAS YOUR FOCUS ON PRECIOUS FABRICS EVOLVEDWITH THE LUXURY SECTOR?
In the mid 1990s, we realised that we needed a change in our product range and we tried to upgrade our collection in the segment of precious fabrics. Our first attempt was with cashmere and we produced good qualities, but they were too classical and solid and not in keeping with our image. That’s why we decided to create a brand-new fibre – Baby Alpaca® – and become the market leader in it.
Q: HOW HAS REGISTERING THE BABY ALPACA® TRADEMARK AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?
That trademark has been extremely important for us, emphasising the novelty of the fibre and our strong commitment to becoming the specialist in Baby Alpaca® fabrics. The beginning was not easy and it took a while to introduce the idea to our customers and create fabrics with our own DNA. Finally, we succeeded, and we keep developing new Baby Alpaca® qualities every A/W season. From next season, we're offering Baby Alpaca® for spring with silk or linen.
Q: FANCY TWISTED YARNS AND BOUCLÉ HAVE BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH FERLA. ARE THESE NOW BEING USED IN BOTH WOMENSWEAR AND MENSWEAR?
This is great for both markets! For Dolce & Gabbana as well as for Armani, Cucinelli or Suitsupply, we are dealing with both women’s and menswear. For Chanel and Maxmara it is all womenswear.
Q: YOU’RE KNOWN AS A ‘LANIFICIO’ OR WOOLLEN MILL, BUT WHAT OTHER YARNS DO YOU USE?
Very good question! As a matter of fact, we are using wool in the winter line in order to get different results with Baby Alpaca®, so the wool yarns must be very special or have a technical purpose. In the S/S, we just have one quality with a wool content which is our iconic wool and silk “giro inglese” (English twist). You might think that we are not in keeping with a traditional lanificio but the wool culture allows us to create innovative fabrics also with other fibres.
Q: YOU MENTIONED A LOVE OF ENGLISH LITERATURE AND JANE AUSTEN’S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. WHY DOES THE FIRST LINE OF THE BOOK RESONATE WITH YOU?
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” I love literature and good reads and as a high-school student, I had an English professor who was very fond of Jane Austen. I also very much enjoy the incipits (beginnings) of novels and, apparently, Pride and Prejudice has really a very nice one. This book has special meaning for me as my wife was a schoolmate, and we had the same English professor.