There was a general consensus in Como, Italy when I went around the mills in July 2009, that when it came to cotton, Carlo Riva was top dog. People would often whisper the name or stumble over it as if to dumb it down - some said they knew where it came from, others said it was still being hand-loomed, some said it was run by a group of crazy people who didn't want any more business. I loved the mystique that was attached to this brand - it was almost enigmatic and it made me all the more curious. I often wondered whether this was an act that the Italians put on for foreigners, that the Italians themselves might then ring Carlo himself and say 'hey Carlo, we got another idiot from the other side of the world believing this stuff, I want 25% commission before I send him over to you. He's good and ready - we gave him a really BIG story...'.
And so, I present to you the first samples of Carlo Riva shirting fabric that I happily received via DHL today and I can say, with certainty, that on first glance it is pretty pretty good.
As an afterthought, I found this snippet on Google:
A glance at another company run by Otto Mantero, Tessitura Serica Carlo Riva , confirms this precise choice of sector. As is the case at Fermo Fossati, workers at Carlo Riva also use the old machines that other companies have sacrificed on the altar of mass production and that today constitute a precious resource for those in search of the best way to stand out in a market often rendered monotonous by overly technological production. At Carlo Riva they make "the best shirting in the world", fabrics chosen by the best shirt makers. Given the restricted room for manoeuvre imposed by the rigid canons of classic patterns, the search for novelty is undertaken with a skill that can perhaps be best explained by taking a quick look at Otto Mantero's past - a past made up of a long spell a a partner in the family firm of the same name that produces garments in silk renowned throughout the world. Otto Mantero spent years acquiring a sound experience in the field, where ha was concerned with the manufactured of the finished product, working - no coincidence this -both in the shirt and tie sectors. As Mantero himself likes to put it, provided that they are of genuine quality, shirts and ties "never go out of fashion and become collector's items in the wardrobe of a gentleman of good taste"
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