Daniel Harris, London Cloth
Manufacturing Glamour: Inside Milan’s Oldest Sequin Factory
The Energy Issue traveled to Milan this summer to document the history of sequin manufacturing with fashion writer Emily Spivack of Threaded, Sentimental Value, and Worn Stories. Emily is leading a project for The Energy Issue on sequins, so we began by finding the best source for original research. Milan, where some of the earliest sequins were produced and most advanced manufacturing processes discovered, seemed like the obvious choice. During the Renaissance, the city’s fashion-conscious and opulent ruling family, the Sforzas, jump-started the textile and metal industries, and Leonardo da Vinci, who became known as much for his engineering as his art, even drew a sketch of a sequin-making machine while living there. The city has continued to be a global center of fashion and textile manufacturing and is home to a number of the finest da Vinci scholars and fashion historians. Along with interviewing a number of experts in these fields, we visited Milan’s oldest and most well-regarded sequin manufacturer, Andrea Bilics. The company, founded in 1946, has remained family-owned since its inception and produces sequins for the likes of Prada, Donna Karan, and Armani. Mr. Bilics noted that he had designed almost all the machinery himself and maintains tight control over the production process. Indeed, Bilics produces all of its sequins from scratch and mixes all of its proprietary colors in-house. To see more photos from our trip and to continue following Emily’s project, visit us on our Facebook page.