Tailors invariably cross the line between reverence and awe when perusing its swatch books, and devoted sartorialists
lucky enough to be invited to the company’s soft-lit archive room at its HQ in Pratrivero, near Biella – in which
designers and textile lovers pore over 2,000 leather-bound volumes of fabrics from all over the world, dating back
to 1860, in the narrow corridors between vast bookshelves – tend to fall into the kind of hushed reverence with
which an art historian explores The Sistine Chapel.
The theme of the company’s AW 2021/2022 collection is “Back to 21”, a reference to the
microns, or diameter of the wool fibre, that provided the raw material for cloths created with colder temperatures
in mind. There’s a highly innovative stroke of trend-bucking at play here: the fashion world has become somewhat
fixated with microns, based on the notion that a higher “super” number automatically means softer to the touch and
generally more luxuriant.
The fabrics introduced here militate against this rather reductive approach, being thicker and fuller, not to mention
more stretchy and more likely to be afforded an idiom popular amongst tailors, “makes up well” (and if a tailor uses
that expression about a fabric you’ve chosen, you can definitely raise your expectations about how the suit’s drape
and silhouette will turn out).
‘Beausoleil’ is a herringbone-effect suit fabric which comes in a range of natural colours from purple to Sienna
brown via green, while there’s also a new worsted flannel with a mouliné yarn in greens, greys, browns and blues.
Elsewhere, double jacquard cloths (this refers to a method whereby two different fabrics are bonded by a very fine
yarn) see the likes of houndstooth, Prince of Wales and chalk stripes juxtaposed with mélange layers the reverse,
whose colour range includes various tones of grey, green, brown and other organic hues.
As well as wool fibre diameter, the“Back to
21” theme refers, of course, to the year that the Autumn/Winter shortly upon us will take us into.
Vitale Barberis Canonico may well be the world’s oldest continuously operating cloth mill – a member, indeed, of the
international club Les Hénokiens reserved for family companies with at least 200 years’ history – but the roughly
8.5 million metres of cloth its 455 employees produce each year are being created with the future firmly in