The Invisible Hand of Fashion

We woke up to a relatively sunny morning in Milan and yet another lavish hotel breakfast. After our meal, our group gathered together and boarded the van to make our one hour journey to the Montero Spa.I was excited to be able to witness the workings of an Italian business and their take on supply chain management.The Montero Spa creates fabric and fabric designs which is an essential part in many famous brands around the world. In the supply chain process the Montero Spa commonly acts as the supplier. However, the Montero Spa also has their own store on site, so in that sense they are also retailers. It is fascinating how the Montero Spa is seamlessly able to morph as different members of the supply chain.The company was established in 1902 and is a family owned business; this is common in Italian businesses. Even though the company is family orientated, that has not prevented the company from staying updated with current technologies and company structures. The company prides itself on doing everything internally: in other words, the company is vertically integrated. The Montero Spa can not afford to stray far from vertical integration since their high class customers demand perfection and the Montreal Spa can not leave anything to chance with flakey suppliers. Even though the company is vertically integrated, they will still purchase the basics from other companies who specialize in such. In that sense, the Montero Spa becomes a buyer in the supply chain process. An interesting tidbit I learned was how sometimes the Montero Spa’s clients will request the silk to be made in the facility. This can sometimes cost a fortune, but it is worth it to the clients because they get to say they have a completely Italian product. In terms of the designs the company sells, the company can either create original sketches for the client or the client can come to Montero Spa with ideas that just need some adjustment. This can lead to a lot of complexity for the Montero Spa, in order to deal with this complexity the company is organized to have separate teams to deal with every aspect of production. There are positions for everything from colors to project managers. Everyone and everything needs to be perfect for the Montero Spa’s supply chain to operate efficiently.

Even though the Montero Spa has been around for over a hundred years, changing times have had impacts on the supply chain of the company itself. For example, screen printing used to be the only way that the Montero Spa used to be able to produce their fabrics. Today, thanks to rapidly developing technology, there is a way to print designs using the computer as the main crutch in production. The difference in the supply chain of using a computer to aid printing versus simply just the screen printing are immense. The supply chain of the company had to be changed to account for these differences. However, technology is not static; this implies that more technology changes will continue to impact the supply chain of the company. Not only are production methods constantly evolving, but production itself is also time consuming. The whole supply chain process can take three or four months depending on the methods used and customer needs. Customers are one of the biggest risks to the Montero Spa’s supply chain since if they change their mind, the whole process could need to be adjusted. The different clients of the Montero Spa have recently become picky over environmental factors, hence impacting the supply chain. Clients would like to see certification that the Montero Spa is acting in the best interest of the environment as well. In order to deal with environmental concern, the Monitor Spa had to add a quality management for sustainability position to deal with the growing demands for sustainability. This position added yet another facet to an already intricate supply chain. All in all, the Montero Spa is an interesting company because of the many roles it plays in the supply chain of fashion. Sometimes the company acts as a buyer, but more often the Montero Spa acts as a seller to both retailers and even as a one-level seller directly to customers.

We were not allowed to take any photos of the fabric, so I hope my bloggers enjoy a picture of my amazing lunch instead!


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