Every Omega Srl glove is touched by 25 different pairs of hands – each bringing their own set of skills to the final product. Among other steps, there’s one person who moisturises the leather; one who cuts the forks; one who checks the seams; and one who carefully irons the finished glove. No matter how simple the end result may look, the journey is as complex as any other artisanal craft.
Omega Srl’s history is comparatively storied, too. The brand was founded in Naples, where glovemaking was once considered the city’s most flourishing sector, employing roughly 6800 people and housing its own tanning district. Pasquale Squillace started the small artisanal glove workshop in La Sanita, a working-class area of Naples, around the middle of the 1800s, creating pieces that tapped into the expertise of the city. It wasn’t until his son Gennaro took over at the turn of the century, however, that Omega Srl truly flourished, increasing the brand’s production to 300,000 pairs of gloves each year and turning it into a major export of Naples.
The company is most well-known now for its high quality, rather than sheer quantity, which is thanks to the third-generation glove maker of the Squillace family. On taking the reins in 1955, Alberto utilised his thorough knowledge of raw materials and set about increasing the quality of the gloves, focussing on the tanning and craft processes. This was echoed by his son Mauro, who took over in 1963 and further trumpeted the business as a brand, turning it from a mere supplier into a name in its own right.
Nowadays, Mauro and his son Alberto develop collections by taking past designs – some that date back 70 or 80 years – and reworking them according to the trends and styles their customers demand, as well as consulting with Mauro’s daughter Martina, who’s a designer. Most of the designs, however, are evergreen, encouraging product longevity and expertise in the craft – a practice we at The Rake are proud advocates of. “The strength and uniqueness of Omega Srl,” says Mauro, “is due to the fact that, unfortunately, it is the only atelier in the world to still use traditional methods with ancient sewing machines and with 25 consecutive steps.”
The aforementioned steps are carried out around the city of Naples, predominantly in the homes of the artisans themselves. “The person who knows how to cut a glove does not know how to cut the forks, which are the inner thickness of the fingers,” says Mauro. “The person who can sew a hand glove does not know how to sew the lining inside the fold.” Each stage is also carefully overseen by the “Squillace Master”, the family member in charge of the business who ensures quality is of the highest standard.
The aftermath are pairs of gloves, each with their own distinguishing features, made with intriguing materials in styles unlike most on the market. Take, for example, the noisette leather driving gloves – the palm is crafted from supple lambskin leather, which is slightly perforated for breathability, while the top is made from delicately crocheted cotton and fastened with a silver dome. There’s also the sunshine yellow pair made from luxurious peccary leather and lined with cashmere, with all the details and seams stitched by hand.
Like many of the family’s neighbouring artisans in Naples and beyond, these skills have been passed down through generations who are passionate about a very niche form of art. “It’s a handcraft made up of specialised people who have a close relationship with the family and a tradition that is passed on,” says Mauro. And, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he’s as passionate about keeping the tradition alive as he is about the final product.