French Savoir-Faire – 22 january 2016
The World of ARPIN spinning
Arpin, the spirit of mountains.
Every lover of mountains, Savoy and beautiful materials knows this house and its unique expertise. The one that transforms wool into Bonneval towel, a fabric that immediately captivates Alpine sports enthusiasts who want to combine comfort and practicality.
The right stuff
In the early nineteenth century, mountains open to tourism, at least for some top athletes, fans of new sensations. Even before the construction of the first hut, in 1853, Alexis and Jean-Baptiste Arpin open their first spinning mill in 1817 on the outskirts of Bourg Saint Maurice, while Savoy is not French yet. The textiles produced there are used to make hot mountain outfits, original, and especially hardwearing and waterproof. The Bonneval towel was born. If it is reputed to have been used to make the tents of the future King of Sardinia as he passes the Col Petit Saint Bernard, it is now also used to make the Arpin knickers, quickly adopted by every world’s high mountain guide. Adventurers and top athletes want this fabric used during the first expeditions to the Himalayas and those of Paul-Emile Victor. A success that has never wavered since then: in 1992 Arpin has thus created plaids and vests for the International Olympic Committee of the Albertville Games *.
The beauty of gesture
Housed in Séez Saint-Bernard since the beginning, the Arpin production workshop only works with the finest materials. A careful selection that begins with the selection of fleeces (from outdoor pasture in the surrounding four valleys) that allow working with wool that meets the requirements of the house. Selection, hand sorting, washing, dyeing, carding, spinning, weaving, degreasing wool … such meticulous gestures by men who have been transmitting this unique know-how for nearly two centuries. Ancestral know-how through some inventoried machines, but that do not exclude modernity, if it brings real quality improvements. Time, incompressible; it may take several months from the reception of raw wool and its sublimation until the finished product. The perfection of the result only counts. The manufacture of Bonneval towel, an emblematic and exclusive product by Arpin, for example, requires not less than twenty-four steps.
Next to the factory, the historic shop of Arpin offers the entire range of the house, available in ready-to-wear and home textiles, plus a tailored range. With six different qualities of wool, Arpin offers a wide range of fabrics in warm colors that blend into all interior styles and seduce many international designers for private houses but also luxury hotels. Arpin draws inspiration from its heritage to design its clothing collections, whose implementation is entrusted to French craftsmen crafters. No way to get caught by the fashion trends; function, use, durability, obvious elegance are the watchwords in designing collections with structured lines without superfluous detail. And if it exists, it’s because it has a reason to be there such as the red thread, a nod to the signature color of the brand and the Savoy region, which underscores the functional details, such as a breakpoint on a pocket.