Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Glove Factory

The Sunday Hop: On the top floor of an eighteenth century palazzo, Mauro S. runs an internationally renown glove business. Fifty years ago, small glove shops filled the Sanita district in downtown Naples, but the local mafia as well as large manufacturers from China and the Philippines drove most of them to close. Mauro, on the other hand, took over his family business that has existed for over one hundred years. Proud of his company's long heritage, a photo of his grandparents hangs on a wall of his office.

Mauro S.

Today, Mauro distributes his gloves internationally, including to France, Germany, and the United States. Many of his gloves have appeared in magazines and the President of Italy even visited his company, writing him a thank you letter. What's the secret to Mauro's success? Every one of his gloves are handmade by expert craftsmen. His employees still use the non-electric Singer sewing machines, they cut the leather by hand, and use natural light to distinguish color shades.

Mauro buys his leather from several Middle Eastern countries through intermediaries. From there, the leather goes to a company outside Naples that separates the skin from the wool in large vats filled with water and calcium. The skin goes into a tanning machine, which heats the material for several hours along with vegetable oil and chrome. The leather is then dyed various colors.

Mauro takes this prepared leather to make his gloves. Fifteen people work at the top floor of his palazzo. First, the leather is stretched, being careful to make sure the stretch of the leather will be verticle rather than horizontal. The material is then carefully cut and pounded so that the impression for the fingers becomes clear.

The Cutter

At this point, Maura has about fifty different elderly women throughout the city who receive the cut leather and sew the gloves together. Many of these women once worked for the glove shops and now continue their craft from home. They return the gloves to Mauro, who gives it to his employees inside the palazzo. They use scraps of leather from the cutting room to fill in the gaps between the fingers. One of these women has worked in Mauro's company since she was eighteen -- she is now 78:

The gloves then go on to be lined with cashmere, silk, or other materials. The woman below uses glue to press the lining into the leather. Mauro explains that the only difference between the way he makes gloves and the way his grandfather made them is that his grandfather used one stitch to marry the lining and the leather together, but Mauro uses glue.

Lining the Gloves

The lining and leather are then sewn together at the cuff -- usually carried out once again to the elderly ladies in the city. The gloves often come and go from this palazzo twenty-four times before they are ready.

At the very end of the process, every glove is put on a hot broiler that looks like a metal hand. Then it's placed between two slabs of marble for several hours in order to make it flat. Mauro checks every glove individually before it's ready to be sent to stores.

The Last Step: Heating & Flattening With Marble

Grazie mille, Mauro e cari amici!

Getting There: Mauro gives tours by appointment. He loves what he does and so do his skilled employees.
You can find him at: Omega, srl
Via Stella, 12 -- 80137 Napoli.
Tel: 081 299041


Anonymous said...
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Barbara said...

Thanks! Mauro was a charming man and his whole staff was very kind.

Saluti da Napoli!

KC said...

Very interesting!

marybeth said...

what a great story! thanks so much for outlining Mauro's story...

LindyLouMac said...

This post made me really appreciate the leather gloves that my mother-in-law has given me.

Mauro said...

Hello Barbara,
I just add that, besides the visit
production and a good coffee, if you want
You can also buy these works of art. The
factory prices ranging from € 25 to € 50 in
all colors.

Barbara said...

I'm glad you all liked the factory. E grazie mille, di nuovo, Mauro!

Lily said...

I met Mr Mauro 2 days ago, I didn't even expect to find him there to be honest, and when he showed me his full schedule of appointments I felt really privileged to meet him and his wonderful group of ppl working in the shop.
It was the highlight of my visit, and I 'm honored to meet a real Neapolitan, artisan and wonderful man!
Many kisses from Athens!

Barbara said...

Hi Lily,

I'm so glad you were able to see Mauro. He is fantastic!

Saluti to you and Greece!