The Italian Job: Tessuti di Sondrio

M.J. Bale partner, Tessuti di Sondrio, dream weave the world’s best linen-cotton cloths in the heart of the Valtellina.



If you start at the northeast finger of Lake Como and drive due east, you arrive in a narrow valley dominated by Alps on either side called the Valtellina. An ancient trade route that once connected the Lombards with Austria and Germany, the Valtellina is now more famous for bringing alpine-loving Italian northerners to the ski resorts of Bormio and Saint Moritz.

At the heart of the valley is the UNESCO-listed commune of Sondrio. Epicureans would know Sondrio for its red, velvety Nebbiolo wine, cured Bresaola beef and pizzochieri pasta. The tailoring aficionado, on the other hand, might know the town for its weaver, Tessuti di Sondrio (TdS) – arguably Italy’s finest weaver of linen and linen-cotton cloths.

The only weaver in the Valtellina, Tessuti di Sondrio began life in 1895 spinning heavyweight blue cotton yarn for factory worker uniforms. Throughout the 20th century the company evolved to become a cotton spinner-weaver-garment maker, before deciding to specialise in the weaving of linen, cotton, hemp and wool in 2000.


M.J. Bale began our partnership with Tessuti di Sondrio in 2015. On debut, the mill produced one of M.J. Bale’s all-time greats, the sand-coloured linen-cotton Robertson suit, worn by none other than Usain Bolt at the 2016 spring races.

In the past eight years, we’ve deepened our partnership with Tessuti di Sondrio. Not just because of the quality and elegance of their cloth, which is substantial, but because of their sustainability work. Much like with VBC and Reda (see page 36), doing business with Tessuti di Sondrio is good for lowering our carbon footprint across the board. The company is 100 per cent solar powered and upcycle their fabrics. Most recently, they have begun innovative work replacing chemical dyes with natural alternatives, made from orange waste and medicinal herbs.


The spirit of Sondrio, according to brand manager Fabio Grazioli, is based around “ethics, territory, sustainability and responsibility”. “We are the only weaver in this area and our factory is in the heart of the city,” he explains. “We are responsible for the local economy, and as much as we can we act with responsibility and respect for our worker and the environment. As an exporter we need to think global, yes, but we are always acting local to keep from losing our soul.”


M.J. Bale x Tessuti di Sondrio garments include the linen-cotton Robertson suit, stretch-cotton Fresco suit, stretch-cotton Fairbanks suit, linen Alcantara suit and safari jacket, and linen Nebrodi suit and safari jacket.