Tuesday, 7 June 2016
Adamley - Macclesfield Silk Since 1700
Macclesfield was once the centre of the English silk weaving industry and the world's biggest producer of finished silk. In its heyday, over seventy mills operated in the town. Why Macclesfield? The town is close to a water supply that passes through limestone, and when used in washing and dyeing it gives silk a uniquely attractive (and natural) lustre. Down and almost out — thankfully we don't quite have to look back and commemorate Macclesfield's past silken glories due to the continuing success of silk printers Adamley.
Adamley has been active in the silk printing industry since 1700. They still practice hand printing techniques, the demand for which keeps the skills alive in Macclesfield and the tradition passed on to the next generation.
I know you're more interested in the hand printing, but Adamley is also equipped with the latest digital printing systems to enable the company to compete on two complementary fronts.
The acquisition of age-old hand printing techniques requires that Adamley's artisans are given the bandwidth to develop their skills over time. Dyes are mixed by hand for printing on raw silk finished at the factory. Designs are engraved by hand on silk screens. Each colour incorporated into a design is applied with a separate screen, creating layers that demand total accuracy and deft hands in positioning. Weight and pressure play a part in hand printing too, as well as a finishing process that locks in the vibrancy of the print and prepares the finished cloth for years of enjoyment.
Printing on a small scale means that commissions can be equally limited to create truly unique and bespoke items — a commission can be to create a print run for a single tie or pocket square.
Adamley also has the luxury of being able to draw from an extensive archive built over three hundred years. The print above uses a combination of archive design and animal print to create something new and rather fetching.
At Tweed Towers we are naturally drawn to this traditional print:
E. Marinella British-Italian Ties
Such is the attraction of the printed silks produced by Adamley, E. Marinella — who started out in 1914 as a supplier of the 'English look' in Naples — insists on nothing else for their printed ties. They make a very limited number of ties from each design, typically in their signature micro patterns, such as the Vespa Print tie here.
Don Eugenio Marinella, the founder of E. Marinella, had some tips on choosing a tie. He recommended a lighter and patterned tie in the day and darker tie in the night, and ties — naturally — must always be darker than the shirt. Changing ties according to the time of day sounds awfully civilised, like changing fragrances.
Classic English Madder
Drake's generally has one or two silk ties that have been hand printed by Adamsley using the dusty English madder process and dyes, which are typically produced in a paisley pattern like the beauty they currently have in stock below. Look at how the light blue stands out — gorgeous.
Anecdotal evidence in south Somerset tells me that there's been a real resurgence in the wearing of madder ties in recent years. This is good news for fans of the (ancient) classics and also for our new chums at Adamley.