Today, the group traveled about an hour away to the beautiful region of Como, an area that houses many picturesque restaurants, shops, and landmarks, but is most famously known for the iconic Lake Como. The Como area is also known in the fashion industry as a leading producer of quality silk. We visited the Montero Spa, who is one of the largest creators of silks and other fine fabrics with prints in the luxury textiles market. They make specialty fabrics for big name brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and many others. Their unique and intricate processes for the creation of these goods allows them to occupy many roles in their supply chain. They are completely vertically integrated.
To continue, the Montero Spa owns each aspect of their production and sale. Uniquely, they own all of their suppliers of their silks and other fabrics that are housed in China. Since the silkworm is only found in China and it is cheaper to produce there, the Montero Spa utilizes subsidiary companies to control their suppliers in the most effective way; they are the suppliers. This allows the company to control and maintain the quality and price of these inputs. After obtaining the basic inputs, the Spa works with designers from customers or in house designers to create the perfect pattern. Some designs are inspired by the archives, a combination of many archives, or just completely innovated. While the design process can take an extensive amount of time in some cases, the company prides itself on their control of this part of the process. In addition, visiting the factory of the Montero Spa made it quite clear that the Spa has complete and efficient control of their manufacturing process. By making their products in Italy, they may incur extra labor costs, but they can ensure absolute perfection in their end result. The company uses two different methods for printing designs onto their fabrics: screen printing and the digital technique. Screen printing is a more traditional and tedious process but can create beautiful color combinations. While it is generally moving out of the textile industry as a printing process, some customers require it as it contributes to the quality of their brand. In this process, a different layer of a screen is put into each frame, one for each shade of each color being used. One shade of a color is applied to each piece of the design it corresponds to at the same time. The frame with the screen can then be washed and reused with another color. In regards to cost, the screen print technique is charged by the number of screens used to create the final product. The other technique the Montero Spa uses to print designs is the digital technique. In this system, the sketch is inputed into a computer and an industrial machine prints the design automatically. This is generally more efficient and is growing as the prominent technique in this market, but it can reduce the quality of the product being produced. The Montero Spa has a strong hold on both of these techniques. Also, the Spa can sell to its own stores as its own customer of the goods it produced. We visited the store after the tour and were able to buy directly from Montero Spa the products that they made in their own factory. Considering that this company owns its suppliers, manufacturing process, and customers, not to mention its own means of deliveries, it is completely vertically integrated.
Secondly, it is important to consider the value network principles of the Montero Spa. The basic line of business the firm has invested in is the production, sale, and distribution of fabrics used for textiles. The company is said to be the “ghost writer of fashion,” as the fabrics they create are often seen on the runway and in common apparel, whether they are authentic or a replication. Their products, silks and fabrics, are produced through weaving either done in China by subsidiaries the company owns or, rarely, by the Italian factory in Como. The basic raw materials and inputs required for this line of work are silk threads produced by silkworms, cotton threads produced from cotton plants, and natural and artificial dyes from suppliers. These supplies get to the site from China or other locations through the company’s own line of transportation; they do not use UPS or another popular shipping service. The products are distributed to customers in various ways. They can be sold through Montero Spa stores, through stores that sell these goods, or though luxury brands that use these fabrics in their designs. There are several safety concerns within the main factory. Some include machinery mishaps in which those operating the machines could get injured just by standing near them. Another is the toxic fumes that come from artificial dyes over time; I noticed this pungent smell in the factory. This is similar to environmental considerations; will the dyes hurt the environment from runoff? Also, how much water is the factory using in the dye washing process? Is the factory producing air pollution? There are also many necessary skills to be utilized in the company. The first is the creative minds of those who make designs and innovate new ways to print them Also necessary are machine engineers, workers, and strategic minds to fulfill the technical business obligations.
In conclusion, I learned many things today from visiting the Montero Spa beyond that of which I included in my presentation. First, I learned that the Spa is completely vertically integrated; my group thought it bought silks and fabrics from outside suppliers. Also, I learned the unique printing processes on fabrics and how they work specifically, which was very interesting to me as I wear those articles of clothing. I would, however, have liked to have heard more details about the company’s efforts towards sustainability; this is especially important. Maybe they could find a way to make the leftover dyes the woman mentioned to be more easily recyclable.