Artisan Encounters30 October 2021

Omega and the Neapolitan History of Gloves

The neighborhood of Rione Sanità unveils a history of the art of Italian glove-making

The Squillace family that is behind Omega Gloves make their items as Naples teaches — or more specifically — as the neighborhood of Rione Sanità teaches.

Twenty-five steps, the same ones back from the Bourbon period in Italy in the South that witnessed the birth and succession of a large number of artisans. Omega is the name of the family business that Alberto today, a 5th generation maître guantier, runs with passion and with all the experience developed as a child alongside his father Mauro.

The oldest glove shop in Naples still produces “leather hands” today with the best raw materials available, such as strong lambskin and cashmere for the comfortable inner linings. The works, carried out with the fascinating Singers of the past and by the skilled ladies of the district, are true works of genius.

Proud of keeping a part of a Neapolitan tradition in their hands, the Squillace family design items without trying too hard in seeking a nod from the fashion industry. Those who choose to wear Omega already have their own style, certainly elegant and refined. The quality of the materials used and the work done in an Omega glove are first perceived with the eyes, where you cannot help but observe the details, then with the nose with that unmistakable smell of leather, and then with the hands, when you touch the softness and warmth of the selected fabrics with your fingers.

An art that now remains in the hands of a few: what does "knowing how to make gloves" mean in 2020?

Yes, they can now be counted on the fingers of one hand. During the Kingdom of Naples, there were almost fifty glovemaker workshops but over time these activities have dispersed. We have been making gloves for five generations, always in the same place, Rione Sanità. For this reason, we have a great responsibility which, however, gives a lot of satisfaction. I feel lucky to be one of the few witnesses of the art of knowing how to sew gloves. Indeed, calling them gloves is an understatement: they are important elements of the Neapolitan artisan tradition.

How has the demand for gloves changed from 1923 to today?

Today, gloves are back to being a habit. In recent years, they had become a functional accessory but, fortunately, the search for beautiful things, quality products is returning. Gloves are not just an accessory but a symbol of elegance.

How should gloves be matched according to the Squillace family? What are your style tips for wearing them?

In the Squillace family, we always recommend matching them with a tie or scarf, a coat, and also with a hat if you wear one. Speaking of color or trends, in reality, I think it is a personal and subjective choice. Indeed, since they are always unique pieces, when people come to buy from me in the company, I always say that: "it is the glove that chooses the person and not vice versa".

How should the gloves be looked after? Are there any particular precautions or conservation techniques?

This is an excellent question, very useful for those who want to preserve a leather glove over time. To wash or remove stains from a glove, simply moisten it with warm water and wash with a neutral soap, as if you were washing your hands. Many have irreversibly ruined our gloves because they have used creams and waxes for leather shoes, but the leather with which we sew our gloves is very thin and delicate, so aggressive detergents cannot be used. Drying is also an important phase. You should not subject the gloves to heat sources to dry quickly. Let them dry naturally at room temperature. When I get home after a rainy day, I wrap my gloves in a towel to protect them and dry them gently.

From the Bourbon Kingdom of the two Sicilies to today, the glove is Made in Naples. At that time it was worn with a symbolic value only by certain social classes. Who likes to wear "leather hands" today? Are they still a status symbol?

It is no longer a status symbol but represents a very specific style: the contemporary dandy, for example, or those who love to be elegant at all times, regardless of the occasion.
Even young people are becoming interested in the world of gloves, they are beginning to recognise and appreciate quality and beauty, the principles of our philosophy. Our leather gloves are a pleasure to wear: lined in wool, Como silk or Biella cashmere, they not only warm the hands but are anti-stress, because they relax you with the unique softness of the raw materials. Today gloves are not only worn to protect yourself from the cold since we also produce unlined gloves, with a retro look and made with the crochet technique.
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