Francesco Maglia is one of my recent discoveries, and since there are only bits of information scattered around a few articles online about this company, I felt like this discovery was worth mentioning.
Surely in this day and age, umbrellas are such common accessories – especially if you live in the UK – that we tend to pay as little attention to these practical items as we would to a ball point pen: it comes in handy to have one around, but do not think much of it.
And while most umbrellas nowadays are produced on a high scale in China, there are only a few craftsmen around who still manufacture fine umbrellas the traditional way: three, to be more precise, according to The Gentleman Gazette. And this is what makes Ombrelli Francesco Maglia, a 5th generation family run business, such a delectable find.
Having been an apprentice within an umbrella company from an early age, Francesco Maglia used his expertise to start his own workshop in 1856 in Pavia, Italy, later moving it to the very fashionable Milan. Ever since then, the company has provided discerning ladies and gentlemen with impeccably crafted umbrellas. Such is their fame that it is said companies like Hermes, Paul Stewart or Chanel commission their umbrellas from them.
What makes them so special, you may ask. Put simply: the technique, the materials used, and the service provided. The Maglias pride themselves with using the same traditional methods which have been passed down for over a century. There is some confusion as to the exact number of procedures required in the process, most sources stating 70 distinct steps, while CNN mentions a staggering 80.
I can only assume the family is meaning to keep the exact tricks of their trade a secret, and I do not blame them. Either way, we are talking about a meticulous job indeed, the steps being spread over a long period of time, in order to ensure the result is a durable item worth investing in. To give you an idea, it seems only the shaping of the wood handle can sometimes take upto 6 months
And just in case you were wondering, you would certainly not find shaky plastic parts in Francesco Maglia umbrellas. After all, they specialise in classic solid stick umbrellas, each item being made from a single wooden shaft. Wood is therefore a valuable raw material and the company still sources it from Italy (with the exception of bamboo, for obvious reasons). There is also a surprising variety of this raw material available to choose from, for those who prefer to order a custom made umbrella.
And this is where true luxury begins, as what else could better exemplify genuine luxury than a bespoke item – an object created specifically for you, meant to reflect your style and personality, following your exact preferences and requirements? The options are countless, as you are free to choose the height, the type of wood, the pattern of the fabric – everything down to the material used to craft the handle. This is generally made of wood or leather but it can also be commissioned in silver or mother-of-pearl.
What I personally appreciate however is that the tailored service doesn’t stop here. Like any old-school, true luxury goods’ provider, Francesco Maglia is not just an umbrella manufacturer, but offers after-sales service as well, being able to repair old or damaged items. Furthermore, Francesco Maglia V, the current owner, is still visiting his loyal clients throughout Europe to show them his most recent creations.
This very personal touch is what allows the company to remain approachable and humble, despite being the only Italian umbrella makers to still create such items entirely by hand, carrying forward yet another particular craft in a country so revered for its artisanal traditions.
Have a Closer Look
For a more personal glimpse into the world of Francesco “Chino” Maglia, I recommend this video interview to you.