Day 4

Another beautiful day in Italy! Thankfully the rain held off, and we enjoyed an excursion to Lake Como.

In the morning, we made a company visit to Montego Spa. Montego Spa is a family brand, silk printing company that makes silks for well known customers such as: Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino, and Chanel. In addition to silk production, they offer many different services to its customers. For example, there are designers employed by Montego Spa that will work with customers if they do not have a specific idea for their products. Often, designers will go into the archives. The archives has prints dating before 1902 and continues to grow. Most are hand painted, and there is even a whole book with just polka dots! Customers have access to these designs as long as they agree to work exclusively with Montego Spa. Therefore, the employees of Montego Spa consider themselves the “ghost-writers of fashion.” The overall process from the designing to the production often takes 3-4 months, and the prints are constantly changing with each season.

To remain loyal to their customers, they agree to keep the designs secret. We were not allowed to take photographs because the prints are considered to be intellectual property of the company’s. In addition to printing different silks, Montego Spa complies with specific requests from each customer. For example, Vivienne Westwood requested that they print a line of silk scarves from only leftover dyes. This way, each scarf is unique. Also, Montego Spa can offer customers sustainability options for the production of their silks. Customers can choose based on the certifications that the company currently possesses. To keep Montego Spa within their own sustainability standards, at the end of production for a line, a quality control officer is tasked with assessing the overall sustainability.

In their production, there are two main ways to print silk. One is screen, the traditional way, and one is digital, the new way. Screen is more difficult because only one color can go on each metal plated screen. Therefore, one design may require many screens. Our guide told us that the most expensive silks sometimes have 30 screens! Because screen is more traditional, some companies only want to print this way, like Louis Vuitton. However, due to recent technological advancements, digital printing is also available. It is faster, easier, and cheaper. In the future, we may see digital as the only option due to its simplicity.

Montego Spa is completely vertically integrated in that they own all aspects of their supply chain, including logistics. They have subsidiary companies in China that produce the silks and fabrics, and companies in Germany that make the dyes. Also, they sell their products directly to the end users, whether they are a brand name company or an individual customer.

I really enjoyed this company tour and found their overall business plan fascinating. Previously, I was not aware that one company could be responsible for the production of so many brand name silks, and the way that they have managed to control all aspects of their supply chain is interesting as many companies do not have these capabilities.

One of the most exciting parts was the gift shop. They sold custom made products at outlet prices! I have included a few photographs of the gift area, as that was the only place we were permitted to take pictures.

After the visit, we went to Lake Como for lunch. The restaurant was located inside the quaint town, and the whole group really enjoyed the food. Then, we met with a tour guide for a boat and walking tour of the lake. We learned that Como is a popular area for famous people to own villas. On the boat, the guide brought to our attention many villas that were owned by the rich and famous of Italy. Even George Clooney has a property in the area!

At the conclusion of the tour, we were given the opportunity to take a trolley to the top of the mountain to see the city and the Swiss Alps, Even though I am afraid of heights and we went up for about a half mile, I found the experience exhilarating. The views were breathtaking and a perfect end to my day at Lake Como. Tomorrow we leave Milan for Florence, and I can’t wait to see what this historical city has to offer!


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