The Arpin 1817 Spinning Mill in Séez en Savoie, France
As the name suggests Arpin 1817 has been around for many years. A favourite brand of NDID, the Arpin opens their spinning and weaving factory to the public (more info here) for you to discover the rich heritage of the brand. Arpin 1817 is listed as one of only 55 Living Heritage Companies by the Ministry of the Economy of Industry and Employment in France.
A company with a strong Alpine spirit, a connection to the mountain, born in the mountains, and produced using only local and traditional techniques. The wool comes from sheep raised in the open air and who are fed in the alpine meadows surrounding the historic Savoie. The wool collected from the sheep is treated with respect to preserve its natural qualities, no chemical or harsh processes that could degrade its strength and elasticity.
Originally in the 1830s the brand began by dressing mountaineers, shepherds, guides and explorers. These men of the mountain chose Arpin for their qualities of warmth and resistance. The mountain guides in Chamonix have been dressed in Arpin since 1821, a real testament to this heritage brand. Over the decades the spinning mill at Arpin have been evolving their processes to make their textiles more robust, warm, comfortable, usable and waterproof. It was only natural that these fabrics entered into the home as curtains, bed covers, blankets and upholstery materials which Nicky uses in her chalet projects across the French and Swiss Alps.
Through these series of photographs by Joseph Melin at the Arpin 1817 Spinning Mill we are introduced into the heart of the brand, which goes some way to understand why this Arpin 1817 is so special.
Jacques Arpin above is in charge of every process in the spinning mill, from when the fleece arrives to the knotting and loading of the warp thread to the spindles and machines.
There are 24 steps which complete the process from start to finish, a process which has remained the brands trade for almost 200 years. From the shearing of the sheep, the weighing of the fleece, washing sorting and drying, rinsing and drying again. A machine called the Wolf untangles the fibres before the fibres are loaded onto the carding and twisting machines.
Only then can the winding and warping begin, followed by the weaving, washing again, spinning, drying, then the wool is loaded into a giant hot steam grill to avoid any creases before the fabrics are rolled out to be fashioned as final rolls of Arpin wools.
A Jacquard fabric above, one of the brands more complex fabrics to produce. To view further fabrics from the brand click here.
All photography copyright Joseph Melin
You can visit the Arpin online store here or visit one of their 5 Alpine stores in Séez, Chamonix, Lyon, Megève or Val d’Isere .
Nicky’s World April 2017