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- For the French gangster movie, see Borsalino (film)
Borsalino is the oldest Italian company specializing in the manufacture of luxury hats. Since 1857, the manufacture has been based in Alessandria, Piedmont. The founder, Giuseppe Borsalino, is remembered for creating a particular model of felt hat that has come to be known eponymously as a "borsalino".
On 4 April 1857, Giuseppe Borsalino started a workshop in Alessandria that specialized in the production of felt hats. The workshop eventually grew to industrial production, and in 1888 the company moved to a new factory designed by Arnaldo Gardella, located on Corso Cento Cannoni, Alessandria. In these years Borsalino produced 2,500 hats a day, but when the company won the Grand Prix, an important quality certificate, at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900, spread the brand's fame globally. The succession of Giuseppe Borsalino was complicated: the designated heir, Teresio Borsalino, was opposed to his cousin Giovanni Borsalino, son of Lazzaro, who inaugurated a new hat factory using the family name. Between Borsalino Antica Casa and Borsalino Fu Lazzaro were years of hard commercial battles but in the end the Teresio came out and the name Borsalino became one again. On the eve of the First World War Borsalino produced about 2,000,000 hats annually. The manufacture employed over 2,500 employees, representing a significant resource in the economy of the Piedmontese city. Abroad, the brand spread everywhere, conquering the most important markets: the British, but especially the US, where the hats produced in Alessandria were adopted by the Hollywood starsystem. The downsizing of the company occurred in 1950 in conjunction with the beginning of the fall into disuse of formal hats: Borsalino is thus transformed from mass product into a cult object. In 1987 the hat factory moved from the historic center in Alessandria to the current one of Spinetta Marengo, in the suburbs of the city, and the president Vittorio Vaccarino, the last descendant of the Borsalino family, sold the company to a group of Milanese entrepreneurs. In the nineties the company changed ownership several times to be finally bought by the entrepreneur Marco Marenco, involved in a € 3.5 billion financial crack. On December 18, 2017 the Court of Alessandria declared the bankruptcy of Borsalino Giuseppe and Fratello Spa.
Haeres Equita, a private equity fund which manages the brand’s activities since 2016, confirms the will to continue the production, the distribution and the promoting activities of the forthcoming collections, keeping all employments and maintaining the production site in Alessandria (Piedmont).
In 2017, on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the company, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development recognized Borsalino as one of the 'Excellencies of the production system', dedicating it a stamp worth € 0.95.
Borsalino manufacturing has remained faithful to a production process that represents the cultural values of the company, handed down from generation to generation. The hats continue to be produced in Alessandria by combining industrial technology and the spirit craftsmanship. The felt models, created from wool fibres, require more than 50 manual steps and seven weeks of work to create; the straw models, which are hand twisted, can take up to 6 months for a single hat.
Borsalino and Alessandria
The Borsalino business dynasty has made an important contribution to the city of Alessandria, building the aqueduct, the sewerage network, hospital, sanatorium and retirement home. The historic headquarters of the company, currently located in Corso 100 Cannoni, now hosts the University of Eastern Piedmont Amedeo Avogadro and the Borsalino Hat Museum. In 2016, independent film director Enrica Viola dedicated a documentary to the relationship between Borsalino and Alessandria: Borsalino City was presented at film festivals in Turin, Barcelona and Melbourne.
The Borsalino Hat Museum
In the spring of 2006, the Borsalino Hat Museum opened in the company's historical headquarters in Corso 100 Cannoni, Alessandria. A joint initiative by Alessandria town council and the Borsalino company, the museum covers an exhibition area of 400 m² and houses about two thousand hats, displayed in the historic Chippendale style cabinets made in the 1920s by Arnaldo Gardella for the factory sample room. In 2018, the museum is planning to move to a larger venue with a completely renovated exhibition.
Borsalino and art
The relationship between Borsalino and the art world has ancient origins. Since the birth of advertising in Italy, at the turn of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Borsalino has entrusted the realization of its posters to the most important artists of the time. This privileged relationship with art has been confirmed over time and has led the company to collaborate with Cesare Simonetti, Giorgio Muggiani, Giovanni Dradi, Franz Laskoff, Marcello Dudovich, winner in 1910 of a competition organized by Borsalino to publicize the Zenit hat, Giuseppe Minonzio, Gino Boccasile, Luigi Bompard, Jeanne Grignani, Luigi Veronesi, Max Huber and Armando Testa. Today the antique Borsalino advertising posters are collector items that have been beaten in the most important auction houses in the world.
Borsalino and cinema
Borsalino has a long-running and special bond with the film industry. One picture stands out above all: Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the unforgettable final scene of Casablanca. The relationship with the cinema was destined to last: in addition to Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca, Marcello Mastroianni in 8 ½ and Jean Paul Belmondo in Breathless both wore a Borsalino.
Above all, the Alessandria factory granted the use of its name to two cult films of the 1970s: Borsalino and Borsalino & Co.. The idea was Alain Delon's, and Borsalino accepted on the condition that the company logo would appear on the posters. The Italian company was the first luxury brand to give its name to two films.
Borsalino and design
In 2009, Borsalino was included by the Triennale Design Museum in Milan among quintessential Italian icons in the 'Serie Fuori Serie' exhibition. The exhibition was replicated in March 2017 at the National Museum of China in Beijing.
Borsalino and fashion
Borsalino has been collaborating with some of the most important names in the fashion system since the beginning of the millennium. These have led to the creation of capsule collections with Nick Fouquet, Tom Ford, Moschino, Yohji Yamamoto, Marni, Gianfranco Ferré, Rochas, Italia Independent and DSquared.
- Boss of the Plains
- Homburg (hat)
- Pork pie hat
- Trench coat
- Tyrolean hat
- List of headgear
- Squires, Nick (19 December 2017). "Indiana Jones' Italian hatmaker Borsalino goes bust". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
- "Famed Italian hatmaker Borsalino declared bankrupt". France 24. Agence France-Presse. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
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