If a spa is a mineral spring considered to have health-giving properties, then the Mantero Spa is certainly giving good health to the world of fashion. Some of the planet’s most famous fashion houses are clients of Mantero, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, and of course Valentino. When Gucci designs its new spring print dress, it doesn’t create the pattern on its own. It may have an idea in mind, then it works with the Spa to create or pull the pattern for the dress. Mantero works with these companies to both renew patterns and prints from the past archives and create new ones. Mantero’s archives date back to over a century ago, containing patterns, prints, and designs from all over the world that are used in today’s fashions seen on the catwalks of New York Fashion Week!
One of the first things that I learned on the site visit to Mantero is that they do everything in their production process in house. From creating the silk to shipping the silk products to a Valentino boutique in Los Angeles, Mantero has been nearly full control of its creation process since the beginning of the family-owned business in 1902. Mantero designs, prints, and weaves the silk products that you can find in fashion boutiques all around the world. Because Mantero is vertically integrated, they own the silk factories in China that create the silk they use for their products, which is shipped over to their site in Milan to be printed. The Spa makes its silk in China because silk can no longer be made in Italy as Italy has run out of silk worms. They also work closely with their fashion house clients by either taking designs or helping create one that will appear on those fashion products. To do this, they use archives that they own for inspiration from the history of fashion and create new patterns and designs to put together new pieces. Once the product is designed, they begin either the silk screening process or the digital print process on their silk they weaved. The silk screening process takes very long, as each color in the design must be dyed one layer at a time to the silk. Big machines are used to drag the blank scarves down a conveyor belt and are monitored by workers running the machinery. The digital print process is much quicker, and it is becoming much more popular with designers. The dyes that Mantero uses are bought from independent companies in Europe. Because Mantero has a concern for the environmental impact its products have, it tests its dyes it purchases often to make sure their components are environmentally sustainable. If they are not, then Mantero will no longer use them. After the products have been made and approved, the Spa will ship them directly to boutiques of fashion houses all over the world for customers to purchase. Some of their products are also sold at the outlet store on their site in Milan, which is where I purchased a few things!
Beyond the presentation of Group 5 in class, I learned that silk scarves and clothes take much more detail and time to create than I could ever imagine. The process to create each color and pattern on the silk is extremely intricate and tedious, and that is something I only think visiting the actual site could prove to me. I had no idea that there are two ways to make silk dyed products and I didn’t know the details of either process before the site visit. After this visit, I’ve formed a greater appreciation for the artistry of silk products. I knew creativity is involved in fashion, but I didn’t realize that history of past designs and technical skill play such a huge part in the production of these products! The Spa is definitely seasoned in what it does, as this family business has been running for over 100 years. This site visit has really opened my eyes during the study abroad experience by opening the curtain of the world of fashion.
After the Spa, we ate lunch at Como, took a boat tour of Lake Como and explored the town a bit. Our tour guide guided us through the beauty behind the mountainside villas as we soaked in the colorful charm of the most beautiful lake in the world!