Craftsmanship

Document
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A Seven Week Journey

52 STEPS TO PERFECTION


Blowing & Basting

Raw hair is mixed, carded and blown using special wooden machines made in 1857.
The softest hair particles rain down onto a perforated metallic cone which spins and has an air suction jet.
Centrifugal force causes the hair to adhere perfectly to the surface of the cone. A jet of boiling water sets and solidifies the felt cone.

Prefulling & Steeping

Once the felt hood has been basted, it needs to be strengthened using two special machines, the “rollettina” and the “gheisa”, that help the fibres lock together.
At this point the hood undergoes the first of three quality checks: the one known as inspection, which is carried out on a backlit table in a dark room.

Fulling & Assembly

Fulling is the process of shrinking the felt hats using three specific, distinct but similar machines using hot water and fine-tuned mechanical movement. After fulling, the felts are then moved to the “white warehouse” for assembly, ordered and sorted according to quality.

Dying & Shrinking

Dying the felts requires machines set at atmospheric pressure and at a tight boiling point. The hoods are left to soak for 90 to 240 minutes according to the weight of the felt. After they have been dyed, the dimensions of the hoods are further reduced with a process similar to soaking: shrinking. The experience and skill of Borsalino workers is crucial to this step.

Stiffening & Shaping

It is time for a fundamental stage: the transformation of the felt hood with its conical and rigid shape into a capeline. The stiffening machine has a large claw that breaks the weave of the felt in order to make a first division between the crown and the brim, bolstered by natural lac glue. The stiffened felt is ready for Scotti steam shaping, a process named after the craftsman who invented it for Borsalino. The felt capeline is placed in a machine that uses atmospheric pressure and steam to press with an aluminium block. Upon emerging, the felt now has a well-defined crown and, most importantly, a size

Pumicing & Inspection

After the initial shaping, the surface of the capeline is shaved using special pumice papers and fire. The result is a felt smooth to touch and site. As with the previous steps, these operations are done by hand, formed by the high-level skill of the craftsman. After the capeline is shaped a second time, using blocks and presses to form the specific hat shape, the product goes under an intense inspection to ensure quality of craft.

Flanging & Finishing

A second quality check leads into flanging. The brim of the hat is trimmed by hand by a craftsman and then curled using the flanging machine.
The final step in Borsalino production is finishing, when all the accessories are applied on the surface of the hat: lining, sweatband, ribbon and bow. Applying the gold Borsalino brand is a very important moment.
Like an artist signature hot stamped in gold leaf, it is the distinctive touch that distinguishes the hats made in Alessandria throughout the world.
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