Jacopo Politi breathes fresh zest into Borsalino
Borsalino has moved up a gear with Jacopo Politi on board. Politi, a talented Italian milliner who was appointed head of style at Borsalino in April 2022, can make even a simple two-tone wool hat look sexy. At the Pitti Uomo show in Florence, he unveiled his first collection, for Fall/Winter 2023-24, featuring an abundance of colour and brimming with innovation and functional details, infused with a directional feel that has subtly rejuvenated the legendary Italian hat-maker's range.
For next winter, Borsalino’s classic fedora felt hat comes in a fleece-lined version, enhanced by detachable woollen ear protectors, to brave arctic conditions. The elegant Claudette women's hat is instead equipped with a strap looking like a chain necklace. Baseball hats and beanies too have been given a fresh twist, using various luxe materials. Both hat types come in felt versions that can be folded and slipped into one’s pocket, and promptly regain their ideal shape.
Politi, 44, has worked for 20 years in the hat sector, acquiring a wealth of technical expertise. After nine years as studio director at Maison Michel, the Parisian milliner owned by the Chanel group, Politi came back to Borsalino, having collaborated with the long-established Italian label between 2009 and 2012. “I really wanted to come back,” he said.
Every morning, Politi travels the 90 km between Milan and Alessandria to immerse himself in hat making. “The [hat] is an accessory that fascinates me, and Borsalino’s quality is undeniably superior compared to other producers,” he said, underlining the noteworthy history of the company, founded in 1857. “We still use machines dating back to that period, with a dedicated team of nine people, to make our own felt. We have six qualities [of felt],” he added.
“Borsalino used to be somewhat set in its ways. Across the whole sector, it was rather like hats had remained locked in wardrobes for 40 years. [The sector] needs to evolve, looking to the future and connecting with fashion. We have a 40-year design gap to fill. There is much to do, also because we need to develop sustainable manufacturing processes with less impact on the planet, notably in relation to dyeing,” said Politi.
Borsalino’s relaunch is going hand in hand with the renewed popularity enjoyed by hats in the last few years. “Nowadays, the public has realised that hats are useful, and they're making a come-back as functional and fashionable accessories. The fiercest competition comes from luxury labels, since hats are becoming big business. Borsalino has enough of a reputation for [its hats] to complement any ready-to-wear look, and therefore become a fashion buy,” said Politi.
However, there is no need to turn everything upside down. Borsalino will continue to commercialise classic hats, which make up 40% of the collection. Politi's primary mission is “to add to the colour palette and the range of shapes,” as illustrated by this first collection in which, in addition to classic styles, he has focused on three shapes: beanies, baseball hats and Basque-style berets, available also in mini and maxi sizes. He has designed them in all kinds of unusual materials besides felt, such as corduroy, bouclé and cable-knit wool, cashmere, rhinestone-sprinkled herringbone tweed and honeycomb performance fabric.
Politi was also inspired by the space race and interstellar travel, developing several amusing, attractive patterns, like the nebula and Mars surface-effect prints. He also had fun widening and flattening the brim of a fedora, or covering it with a hologram film shimmering with iridescent glints, or making a classic model in a two-tone version. He worked notably with colours, on the one hand introducing vibrant hues like electric blue, orange and pink, and on the other by researching grey in all its variants, unearthing in the archives shades that were developed in the past, like the very light Picreco grey.
Borsalino was founded over 160 years ago and, the year before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was bought by the Haeres Equita fund, which had managed it since December 2015. Last year, Borsalino continued to grow at sustained pace and hired 46 new employees, bringing the total to over 150. In 2021, its revenue was approximately €17.5 million. In parallel, Borsalino has staged a plethora of initiatives, between collaborations and pop-up store openings. The label has recently opened a store in the Maldives and another in the heart of Milan’s luxury shopping district, at 26 via della Spiga, the 11th directly owned Borsalino store.
Copyright © 2023 FashionNetwork.com All rights reserved.