making babaà: life at the factory

Starting at 5.30am and finishing at 9pm life at the factory is bliss and hard all in one –  We’re so proud and happy to be working with this team and we want to show you glimpses of how we are making babaà.

When I started babaà I knew well that I wanted to work with this factory. I had heard about this magical place in the middle of the mountains to the North West of Barcelona city.

In the 1980’s a brilliant man called Salvador decided he wanted to finally have his own factory after working for many different ones all his life. Furthermore he wanted to have it in the village were he was born. It is amazing that this knitwear factory, that started as one man´s dream, ended up being the very best in Spain and one of the very best in Europe. With the latest technology and amazing attention to detail this factory now knits for major fashion houses and we are happy that, after trying for years, we have got there and they have trusted our dreams. 

But there is no secret to anything here, the factory is open 24h a day, 7 days a week, so it is constantly working. Salvador was lucky that his son, Josep, wanted to continue and expand the business along with his wife, Carola, and his sister, Eva. They all live within 5 minutes walk of work so there is never any talk about “balance” here. No holiday is the norm but they have other privileges and they love what they do.

They have been through many hard times but I love how they stick to the highest standards of work and the maximum quality, never working for clients who wish to do things by half or who constantly question how much things cost. This for us is priority: ethical business. People don’t want to produce in sweat shops but they still want to pay those prices. Come On, let´s get things right please! I wish we could all really understand this. We all have to make a living, including those at the factories, and quality and time have a price. It should be like this everywhere in the world really.

Anyway, I go there once a month or every two months but when the kids are on holiday we try to plan our trip so that we can all go together. They are the kindest people and let us stay in a little house they have near to the factory. They have 4 kids between them so our kids love getting there and playing with the gang. It makes life easier for us and work much more enjoyable.

Matilda loves coming to the factory with me. So at quiet times we let her be there, it is really nice. Everyone knows her now and she really sees how things work, she loves it.

 

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I normally spend most of my time with Josep discussing yarns and designs and developing textile samples but this time I really took the time to get into all the details of production. It is amazing how much effort goes into every piece. Cotton is harder to knit than wool, especially the super, natural cotton we use from the South of Spain, and every now and then there is a knot in the yarn. That knot could really pull and break the machine so they have to be there to stop the knitting machine and pass the knot carefully through before it can continue knitting. They are not very fond of doing this, as it really delays the process, but they know how special that cotton is to us.

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They never tie knots which also amazes me. If one cone runs out of yarn and they have to add another one they sew the two ends of the yarn together using that same yarn, never a knot so that it does not show up in the knitted garment.

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After knitting all the pieces, they are brought to the front of the factory to be assembled. It takes so long to assemble knitwear. Add the programming of the samples time and the knitting time and you realise that quality takes that: time.

making-babaa-11                                                                                       Necklines of our classic cardigans knitted and ready to be assembled
making-babaa-14                                                                                                              Linen pieces knitted and ready to be sewn together
making-babaa-3                                                                                                       Jumper No.18 all labeled and ready for assembling necklines 

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Assembling and finishing knitwear pieces is a long process. Sewing seams, mounting neck lines, adding the buttons and labels … after the garment is put together there is a lot of quality control. First checking that there are no mistakes in the cloth and that all the knitting is even and prefect in the garment. If not, it is time for sewing needles, crochet hooks and very skilled hands.

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                                                                                                     Encarna working on the final touches of a babaà cotton cardigan 

After that the garments are put together and brought to the washing machine. In this factory they use German Eco detergent that will never leave any strong smell and of course it is good for the environment.

 

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Every sample is washed before going into production to know how the finished garment will behave. If there is shrinkage or any other problem it has to be taken into consideration back at step one of the process which is programming the design.

After washing and ironing it is back to quality control. Any little mistake (a loose thread, an uneven stitch…) will be marked with a red thread for Inma and Encarna to go over again. Sewing needles and more nice skills are required once more.

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making-babaa-17                                                                       All pieces are checked again and if any little mistake, noted with red thread
making-babaa-7                                                                                                                          Inma and Encarna finishing babaà pieces

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When all the quality control is finished, it is back to ironing and bagging all pieces, ready to be sent to our studio in Madrid and to you all over the world

 

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We thank Josep and Carola so much for their amazing work, for trusting and making babaà and for always treating us like friends. Also, thanks to all their team that don´t mind having us peeping around and are always willing to explain every detail in depth.

 

 

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