story
left_1

BROLLY GOOD SHOW

A £10 umbrella from a local chemist is a useless insurance policy. One strong gust of wind and the thing will suddenly flip its lid, leaving you publicly humiliated. There you are in the street trying to wrestle the inverted canopy under control as the frame buckles and the spokes nearly gouge some old dear’s eye out. Meanwhile you and your suit are getting soaked and you’ve probably dropped your bag all over the pavement. A disposable brolly is a false economy; and moreover it’s a very bad look.
A Just William umbrella, however, represents the highest level of insurance cover. It won’t let you down when you need it most. And for the smart person about town, it makes a very dapper accessory that will lift the tone of your entire ensemble.



left_2
We recently took a trip to Milan to meet the slightly bonkers man who hand-makes our brollies especially for us. Allow us to introduce you…
Look at this guy. With his resplendent white whiskers and dandyish style, he’s like a posh, taller Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses. His name is Francesco Maglia and he is a fifth generation umbrella maker. He’s also a legend who had us in stitches with his anecdotes, acted out with wild gesticulation.
left_3
At first we wondered whether we were in the right place. Our taxi driver dropped us off at what looked like a carpark just outside the centre of Milan. But beneath it is an underground workshop festooned with umbrella sticks carved from all sorts of different woods – ash, maple and bamboo. If it’s true what they say that opening an umbrella inside is bad luck, then Francesco has ridden his. He speaks with a whisper like the Godfather – the result of an operation. But he’s still standing – as is his business when most of his competitors have folded, if you’ll pardon the pun. His USP is that he will make whatever umbrella you want. You can even have a ram’s horn for a handle. Each to his own.
Brolly Good Show 2 402px
The shelves of the workshop are piled high with bespoke fabric designs as commissioned by Francesco’s customers all around the world. The strips of fabric are precisely hand-cut on a bench into triangles that form each section of the umbrella canopy. Of course the most common umbrella design is plain black. But why, when you could have this green-with-blue-polka-dots design?
Brolly Good Show 3 402px
The company’s manufacturing process has scarcely changed in 100 years. Here a craftsman sits at his bench to hand-make an umbrella frame that is then nailed to the wooden stick. Each frame is hand-tested to ensure it is perfect before the canopy is added. It’s painstaking work but business is good.
Brolly Good Show 4 402px
There’s very little machinery in Francesco’s workshop. He doesn’t even use a computer (although his sister in-law does). Most of the orders come in by phone and are handwritten in Francesco’s florid script and processed rather like an order in a sandwich shop. We spy an commission for 100 brown and navy striped brollies for a brand in France, 25 multi-coloured ones for a store in Tokyo, just seven for a little gentleman’s outfitter in Berlin. Francesco knows most of his regular customers personally and can speak several languages fluently.
Brolly Good Show 4 402px
At Just William we don’t believe in cutting corners. We just want to find the best quality men’s and women’s accessories produced to the highest specification by supremely skilled artisans.
Brolly Good Show 5 402px
We are proud that our brollies are hand-made by the world’s top umbrella maker: our friend Francesco. Between us, we’ve got you fully covered.
Brolly Good Show 6 402px
If you believe in saving for a rainy day, a Just William umbrella is a very fine investment.