Lanificio Di Sordevolo: Luxury Wool For Fashion From the Italian Alps

Benjamin Fitzgerald

The opening pages of the Lanificio di Sordevolo story begins in a mountain village, located right under the grandeur of the Italian. In the town of Sordevolo, an early 20th-century family of famous industrials from Biella – the Rivetti, bowed a mill for global textile production, Rivetti Sordevolo.

The mill initially produced luxury fabrics for women’s wear until it went bankrupt in the early Sixties. The young director at the time, Cesare Perino left for rivals, Modesto Bertotto, where he learned the ways of efficient manufacturing and business. But his heart pined for his own textiles house.

Perino bought and reopened the former Rivetti Sordevolo in 1965 and renamed it Lanificio di Sordevolo - manufacturing both woollen and worsted cloths using pure wool. In the late Seventies, the mill shifted gears focusing on fashion, which at the time was accompanied by an expansion into Northern Europe, Japan and the United States.

Since reopening over fifty years ago, Sordevolo has managed to enter its third-generation of family operation and has kept spinning and weaving woollen cloth from its original mountain-nestled factory by the Alps. 

Sordevolo still operates its own production cycle, which includes spinning, twisting, weaving, dyeing and finishing. The mill manufactures wool – ultrafine, double wovens, giro inglese, jacquards and stretch fabrics – blending wools with cashmere, silk, linen and cotton, as well as viscose and nylon.

Quality craftsmanship and a scrutinized supply chain are the lifeblood of the Italian mill. For sourcing yarns that Sordevolo cannot spin itself onsite, the mill has - over the last thirty years - built up a reputable network of suppliers.

“We buy our wools mostly from Australia,” explains Damiano Perino, the son of Sordevelo’s founder. Perino heads up fabric design at the mill too, creating several new fabric prints and patterns each day. 

Sordevelo's other main suppliers are located in the local Biella area and in Como, north of Milan. Having their suppliers close-by ensures physical contact regularly with merchants.

“We have suppliers visiting our mill daily, and whenever they have something fresh and new, we are among the first ones to see it,” explains Matteo Coppa.

A mill built on the industrial revolution, the more recent years have seen Sordevelo shift from being solely focused on production to making more time for design and researching trends. The company has a big laboratory that is constantly developing new ideas and products.

Each fabric is the result of huge amount of stylistic research, conceived by Perino himself, which is then turned into physical output by skilled craftspeople and machinery operators.

“We don’t work on standard fabrics,” says Coppa. “We want each of our creations to be special; something a customer won’t find anywhere else.”

Sordevelo’s ready-made fabric collection is a combination of tradition - with archives dating back to the 1800s - and innovation; the mill’s “techno” textiles born from new yarns, new fiber combinations and new techniques.

“We do all of the processing internally from the yarn spinning to the fabric finishing,” says Coppa.

This allows us to do things the way we want them to be - it doesn’t matter if this costs us more or takes more time

All of this would not be possible without the mill’s constant reinvestment back in their factory and their trained staff.

“Every year we invest in new machinery and we hire new, young employees so that they can learn from our experts,” adds Coppa.

Inviting some of the world’s most influential designers to visit the mill each season, Sordevelo seasonally hosts fashion-savvy clients.The creatives share their ideas and co-create fabrics – adding to the mill’s ability to produce on-trend fabrics to global designers outside of Italy. It’s a big part of Sordevelo's success. But there's always room for improvement, as the textile designer explains.

We still have room to grow with our existing customers,” says Coppa. “We’d like to make our huge fabric archive easier to consult, and plan to digitalize it completely in the next few years

Meanwhile, trading on open market spaces is a second “tool” for reaching new customers.

“Le Souk is the first one of these new tools that we’ve tried,” explains Coppa. “Overall, we want to increase the number of customers we can serve.”

The current collection from Lanificio di Sordevelo is available for purchase now on Le Souk.

Benita Singh