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In the lakeside town of Lecco on Lake Como there is a small shop making a big difference for local textile producers by running their business with a sustainable fashion philosophy. Using only textiles made in Italy and locally manufactured fabrics, Bluelario is bringing back traditional, bespoke dressmaking and tailoring for women.
Down a side street off Via Roma, the main shopping street in Lecco, is a small atelier with a single dress mannequin in the window. A young woman works behind her sewing table stitching a garment. She flaps open the fabric, flips it over, and continues to stitch.
She looks up at me and smiles as she buzzes me in. She is soft-spoken and kind, but there is also a tone of determination and practicality about her.
In 2017 Erika Barbotti opened Bluelario, a women’s bespoke tailoring and dress boutique. Her philosophy of using textiles and fabrics made in Italy with an emphasis on producers from the Lario Lake Como region defines her as a progressive figure of the sustainable fashion movement.
Sustainable fashion is the new hashtag for the fashion industry. In recent months, many of the big designers have focused on awareness of the importance and impact that clothing production has on the environment and social-economic influence of the local community.
Erika has already put into practice the zero-kilometer philosophy for her collection.
She explains, “I only use fabrics produced in Italy and 80% of what I use is made here on Lake Como by local manufacturers.” This not only supports local producers, it also minimizes pollution caused by long-haul transportation.
Before the industrial rise of the east, Lake Como was world-renowned for its textile production, in particular, silk. Today, there are still producers who have been able to keep a strong hold on their market due to the exceptional quality they offer.
“I only use fabrics produced in Italy and 80% of what I use is made here on Lake Como by local manufacturers.”
Erika also uses new, innovative materials such as corteccia di suggero, cork fabric, made by a manufacturer in Tempio Pausania on the island of Sardegna. It is made from eco-friendly cork. This new material is used for everything from wall coverings to shoes, to bags. High-end designers are using it for new concepts and designs.
Holding up some samples, she tells me, “It’s new and unique, and surprisingly durable. I’ll be working it into my collection, using it to create dramatic panels on a skirt or combine it with organza for a gown. I have some very interesting ideas for it.”
Ten years ago, Erika left a steady job as an accountant to pursue her dream and become a dressmaker. She attended pattern-making, tailoring and fashion courses at the Euromode School of Bergamo. Although she traded her calculator for a pair of scissors, her experience in the accounting firm gave her the knowledge needed to run the business side of the shop. Her husband, Matteo Romico, is a marketing consultant and helps her with promotion and branding.
Matteo explains, “The name was easy to choose; blue is the color of our beautiful lake and Lario is the traditional name for our lake district. We believe in tradition and creating value in and for our region.” Erika is a native of Lecco and Matteo is originally from Como and they love their hometown territory.
Her inspiration comes from the runways of Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Ellie Saab and George Hobeika. Erika has her own designs on display in the atelier and offers custom styling. A client can present their own ideas and work with Erika to design a new outfit. She admits, she would love to only design and make haute couture but she fully understands that in reality, tailored pret-a-porter is her daily bread. She does confess getting very excited when a client comes in with a picture of a Valentino dress and is asked to style one. She never copies anything precisely, there is always a little personal touch and of course, the client’s individual sizing and fitting.
Affordable designer fashion
Prices, of course, vary according to textiles and customization, but for under €200, you can get a tailored, handmade dress made to measure. By choosing one of Erika’s designs, it takes one week to make something to size. To make a custom made, tailored garment, it will take three weeks. Once Erika has your measurements, you can call her and she can make a new item without you having to come in.
She also partners with other companies like Comunque Accessories who also believe in the made in Italy philosophy.
Vicolo San Giacomo 4/A
Tel. + 39 3511641564
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