29 May 2017

Travel | Visiting the Workshop of Monobi in Florence, Italy

 Beste Spa Workshop, Cantagallo, Italy

In 2017 we use Instagram in so many ways; travel inspiration, seek out styling ideas, push our photography skills, keep on track of our fitness progress, connect with like-minded people across the world, grow a client list...the list is endless. I often use Instagram as a way of discovering new brands, and to be inspired by a creative outlook it brings a world of ideas into our fingertips.

I first came across the Italian menswear brand Monobi last year, when Jordan was invited to take over their Instagram account while he was attending the menswear trade show, Pitti. The name "Monobi" intrigued me, as did the brand's approach to technical fabric and design. Information on these guys was confined to their website and my few passing conversations with Jordan this only added more to the mystery. 

After a few months of following the brand on Instagram I was met with a message in my inbox, inviting me visit their workshop for a day, to learn more about the brand's influences and meet the people behind the name "Monobi".

A language barrier can be funny thing. It usually goes one of three way; you try your best but end up frustrated, you understand perfectly, or you find it really tricky but somehow, some way, you don't need words to understand the message. My visit to the Beste Spa workshop in Cantagallo was a perfect example of how words can be broken down, and understood perfectly through an experience.

The Besta Spa workshop plays an integral role to Monobi's success; with the design, development, product testing, production and distribution all coming from inside the complex. A complex like no other, too. The 30ft high glass shell is intertwined with dark wooden beams overhead, internal walls made from pale concrete fill in the gaps, and foliage-filled walkways - which look like a perfect match for Haarkon's Instagram feed - all make for quite a special experience. And yes, I am still talking about a factory here!

Having been lucky enough to visit a few factories since I started blogging including footwear, clothing, breweries + distilleries I had a decent idea of what to expect, and while there were many similarities to the former, the the Besta Spa workshop was really like no other.

I was able to take a good nose around the inner workings of the production line, from start to finish; beginning with the initial sketches and moodboards, to garment dyeing, fabric application, waterproofing, construction, and ending with the final collection. The complete product takes inspiration from Italian heritage (fabric), Japanese culture (design), and is seemingly built with all-weather conditions in mind which couldn't feel more appropriate for the British + Scandinavian climate.

The tour took me through a few unexpected stages too, one of which took place in a room they call "The Colour Kitchen". This small glass mezzanine laboratory which is dedicated to creating the perfect colour for any given fabric hung above dyeing room floor like some time of all-mighty control tower. The best way to paint the picture of this lab would be a futuristic Willy Wonka testing facility filled with an uncountable amounts of dye-filled glass jars, just waiting to have their moment in the spotlight.

The variety in fabric application and colour dyeing was an impressive feat, and it came as no surprise to find out that the Beste Spa workshop also produces fabric for some of the biggest fashion houses in the world. I spotted a rolls of fabric being shipped off to Paul Smith + D&G. Say no more.

The people behind the workshop complex had a vision to build on Italian's longstanding tradition of cloth making to create a self-sufficient infrastructure, something greater for the local economy and future generations to benefit from.  

With many teenagers and creatives taking up posts at Beste Spa, it truly felt like the passing of a touch; with respect being shown to these dying craft skills, but at the same time preparing for what's next to come.

Coach Jacket c/o Monobi | Jumper by NN07 | Trousers by Topman | Sneakers by Harrys of London

Just a couple of days after my trip to Florence I hopped on another plane, to meet up with Nik, Jordan and a few other guys in Copenhagen. As the conditions tends to be just as changeable as the British weather, I thought it would be daft not to pack the latest edition to my navy wardrobe the Woody H. Coach Jacket by Monobi.

The Woody is pretty much all I could ask for in a multi-purpose jacket. The technical 60/40 nylon + cotton mix structure, thermo-taped seams, bonded edges, laser-cut breathable ventilation and super slick snap front closer is the kind of attention to detail I can get on board with. 

We took advantage of an early morning rise in Copenhagen to explore some of the city centre's best coffee shops, design stores and local retailers. The man Jordan Bunker got behind the camera, to pick up some of the meticulous detail of the brand's modern take on the classic coach jacket. It feels more like a piece of wearable art than your run-of-the-mill waterproof.

We may have reached the end of this blog post, but I feel this is only the start of my journey with Italian outerwear. My visit to Monobi's workshop only added extra strength to why I regard fabrics, construction and the people behind the design so highly. Thank you to the people at Beste for welcoming me into your family.

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