Beaufort & Blake: At Lunch With Master Tie Maker - Giorgio Mandelli
Over some coffees and a few hearty Italian pizzas, we caught up with Giorgio Mandelli – master craftsman behind the signature Beaufort & Blake silk ties and possibly the most humble and hospitable man in Italy. Nestled away in a cafe beside Lake Como in Northern Italy, we learnt about his past and why the tie will always remain a symbol of style.
So where did you learn your English?
“Ha. Do you mean, where did I learn my bad English? Actually, a long time ago - back in high school. Back then, I wanted to travel and I knew being able to speak good English would help.
"I do spend a fair amount of time in the Far East and so speak a bit of Japanese – I’ve been travelling there for around 30 years now so you would hope I’ve picked something up!”
Tell us how you first got into the menswear industry
“I actually got into the industry by chance! I first started working in a graphic design studio here in Italy and then, [he chuckles] fell in love with an American girl. After a while we moved over to Chicago – it was a bit of a love story but unfortunately America just wasn’t the one for me. I decided to move back to Italy, bringing an end to the romance…we’re actually still good friends though.
"When I came back, a friend of mine told me about Canepa and I thought it would be a good opportunity to transfer my skills of printing on paper to printing on fabric. I’ve never looked back and have been at the company for 31 years now.”
Tell us about the history of Canepa and the silk industry here in Como
“Canepa was founded in 1966, but our roots in the silk industry date all the way back to the 1930s when the Canepa family joined the Serica Lombarda Company - which in itself had been operating in the Como area since the early 20th century.
"The company was founded as a silk manufacturer and has been creating textile styles for over fifty years. Canepa quickly became a world leader in the high-end market and we now work with brands from around the world, including Beaufort & Blake, to create specifically tailored collections. Como itself has a long history of craftsmanship and textile production; it’s the best place in the world for silk production.”
When did the business begin making ties?
“It’s actually been a mainstay of Canepa’s production since the very beginning. The tie is probably the first accessory that springs to mind when you think of Italian garment manufacturing, right? With styles ranging from classic to modern, every tie produced by Canepa brings with it all the company’s experience and the incredible quality of the fabrics.”
Talk us through your style and where you get your inspiration?
“For me, fashion is all about self-expression. You must fit into the things that you think suit you; I’m not really one to follow trends.
"I’m a big fan of ties, of course, bow ties and am a denim lover, especially Japanese denim. Every man has his own style, that’s the most important thing. I like to feel comfortable in my own skin.”
You mentioned you spend a lot of time in the Far East, what are you seeing in the Asian market?
“The Chinese and Japan market is a very important and rapidly growing market - they have a real interest in handcrafted, high-quality menswear products. I’m certainly not a promoter for Japan but they are doing some really exciting things in the menswear market.”
What do you see for the future?
“In menswear there are some really good, and not so good things happening. Menswear now moves so quickly but I’m lucky to work for an innovative company that also focuses on retaining its core principal of quality, above all, in silk production. Attention to detail in print-making, craftsmanship and styling is something that should always be the focus of any brand.”