For the love of Scotland, Cashmere and floral Art...

 Alessandra with her husband and sons. From left, Paul, Donald, Stuart, Alessandra and Max.

Alessandra with her husband and sons. From left, Paul, Donald, Stuart, Alessandra and Max.

Our founder Alessandra Marchini-Gunn was born in Italy on the 26th September 1918. From a very early age Alessandra displayed a fervent imagination for the arts, something which was shared with other family members and this was passed on to her children and grand-children. She was well travelled and enjoyed living with her husband Donald both in Scotland and Italy. 

During the early 60’s Alessandra and Donald dedicated their working life mostly to the Scotch Whisky Industry, starting up a Regional Italian importing and distribution company located in Genoa on the Ligurian coast of Northern Italy. The business was initially orientated towards the selling of Scotch whisky brands, which were still seeking international renown. At the height of the period best known as La Dolce Vita, the Via Veneto in Rome was adorned with striking contemporary adverts which captured the imagination of the time. Harry’s Bar became a meeting point for many Scotch whisky aficionados. It was a very exciting and pioneering time.

During their Scotch whisky travels Alessandra began to develop a passion for floral designs (she had innate artistic skills and was a great painter). They would stop frequently during their European journeys so she could capture seasonal flowers in her scrapbook, from the Trossachs south of the Scottish Highlands, to Burgundy in France, from Pallavicino on Lake Maggiore to the Sir Thomas Hanbury Botanical Gardens on the Italian Riviera not far from where they lived.

Drawings evolved into colourful patterns and then came the realisation that they could be transformed into intricate three-dimensional designs for knitwear. It naturally led on to Hand Intarsia, the ultimate expression of Scottish knitwear, a specialised craft, enjoyed by discerning people around the world.

Alessandra’s creative intuition led to more frequent travels to Scotland in the 70’s to identify the best location for setting up a family knitwear business. Eventually she discovered the right location in the Scottish Borders where abundant soft water flows in the rivers throughout the year and where skilled workers could be found to transpose her unique patterns to Intarsia Cashmere.

Alessandra instinctively knew that a golden opportunity required a suitable name for the project. The name Glenevan Mill was created for the company.

Glen in Gaelic means Valley, where the garments are created.

Evan comes from the Gaelic word Eóghan, which means Youth and a Young right-handed Warrior.

Mill would represent the craft of Intarsia. Having found the name, which encapsulated all the elements required for the family business, one of her younger children, Paul, was appointed as Managing Director, and energetically transformed the concept to a business reality.

 

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 The first Glenevan leaflet, circa 1978.

The first Glenevan leaflet, circa 1978.