From a glance, Francesco Maglia displays impressive quality and values as a family-run umbrella business.
Francesco Maglia is the sixth generation owner and artisan. Preceding him was his father Giorgio, who taught Francesco everything about umbrellas and passed down the company.
I never visited their workshop in Milan. Unfortunately I won’t any time soon, with budget and travel restrictions.
My decision to commission from Maglia was resolute, based on extensive research and communication.
Why? Francesco Maglia, as far as I know, offers paramount quality and bespoke.
Maglia does their best to fulfill your wishes. I didn’t have to pull any teeth to request a certain stick length or small detail.
I received daily responses with photos and explanations. Customer service was smooth. Francesco and his assistant can speak English well.
A good place to start is Maglia’s catalogue. Request a link via Maglia’s email and scan their models and woods.
Maglia’s book features more than 3,000 canopy fabrics to choose from. Note: they don’t have an online version because they constantly supply new fabrics.
If customers don’t find anything they like, they can create their own pattern or design (a minimum of 5 meters length).
A first umbrella should be practical. Francesco recommends polyester canopies because they are more durable than silk, nylon, or poly/cotton blends.
Rains are heavier now due to climate change. Rising temperatures increase evaporation, cloud formation, and create precipitation.
So while I admire silk, I chose a dark navy twill polyester.
Maglia’s polyester fabrics are woven on a tie loom. Artisans work in Como, Italy, to ensure internal quality and reduce waste.
Solid polyester weaves exist in herringbone, twill, and piquet. Others patterns include regimental, pinstripe, wide stripe, small tie patterns, paisley, and polka dots.
According to Francesco, Maglia canopies test three times more waterproof than standard umbrella requirements. How are their canopies treated? Resin (a waterproof material) coats the interior, while the outside is treated with a repellant coat, making rain cascade faster down the canopy. Silk is 100% natural and not water-proofed.
Behind each Francesco Maglia umbrella are decades of experience and testing.
The company’s MO is sustainability, style, and durability. Maglia touts a no-waste policy and eco-friendly approach. They don’t use plastic, but reusable materials like brass and modern polyester to enhance an ancient craft.
Irresponsible lumber companies contribute to deforestation. Not just by razing trees, but by failing to clear the trees’ roots.
Uprooting is costly and difficult. Remaining roots absorb water, die, and crowd space for new trees.
Francesco says Maglia’s wood is sourced ethically, ensuring that trees are uprooted for future growth.
Moreover, Maglia only reuses animal horns that have fallen naturally from deer and rams.
Francesco and I discussed how people’s needs for umbrellas are changing. He raised key cultural points.
People relied on umbrellas much more in the past. Manufacturing technologies for jackets and shoes were less advanced, and fewer people had cars and medicine.
Until the 1940’s flu vaccine, people needed protective umbrellas, lest they risked dying from the flu.
Now, we have plenty of ways to escape the rain. We buy cheap, disposable $5 umbrellas.
Unfortunately, quality umbrellas have gone out of favor.
It’s quite a shock, therefore to open a good umbrella, as I did in Paris. So I feel hopeful – while Francesco and other aficionados are assured – that a quality umbrella can last a lifetime.
The proof will be in the pudding.
Due to the health crisis, I won’t be ordering for some time. But when I do, I plan to order a navy blue umbrella in 32” with a 14mm diameter crook. Everything is TBD.
Hopefully, my second Francesco Maglia post will explain the umbrella-making process, followed a final review.