Today we visited the company Mantero Seta and I found this site visit very interesting and exciting! It was really cool to be able to see the fabric being printed by the screen printing machine and really see every step of the process. We were super lucky to be able to be able to get the inside scoop on next seasons prints for high fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. I love fashion and really admire these comapnies so seeing something like this was a great, once in a lifetime experience.
Mantero Seta is the supplier to these brands for their fabric that they use to produce their clothes, scarves, and other products. Not only is Mantero Seta a distributor, but it is also a producer. Since this is a vertically integrated company, they also own a company in China that makes their silk thread and produces the silk for them. By being vertically integrated, Mantero Seta can ensure that they are getting quality silk all the time, which is very important when it is being used in high end fashion. In China, this company is responsible for picking their suppliers, they mentioned that they do not really have a shortage of silkworms, only a decrease in the quality of the thread they are getting, they now have to be careful when checking the quality of the silk. Sometimes, when customers request it, Mantero Seta will get the thread from the subsidiary and make the silk in Italy, they can do so because they do have a weaving department here in Italy. However, most of the silk is imported from their subsidiary in China. When it comes to dyeing the silk, they have suppliers in Italy, as well as other countries such as Germany. Mantero Seta has around 100 customers and about 10 big players that they are constantly selling to, which include the high-end brands. They only design things particularly for their partners that they work with all the time, they will sell to others but not customize specifically for them. They like to call themselves the ghost designers because they are behind the scenes of really bringing the designs to life and making the fabric look perfect, they can even make the sketches for designers to get a good picture of what the fabric will turn out like.
We learned a lot about the company that could not be found on the internet by going behind the scenes. We really saw a lot of the screen printing process as well as the digital printing process. We learned that with screen printing, there are 33 colors you can choose from, so a fabric can have up to 33 layers printed on it. Each color is given its own identification so if a company wants to sue that same exact color in the future Mantero Seta will know how to produce it. They also have digital printing which is much easier to use and cheaper for the customers to buy. It is cheaper because it takes much less time to make and less skill, for screen printing the exact amount of dye must be put in the machine, but this is not the case with the digital printing. When it comes to pricing, for screen printing they charge by the number of screens, but for digital printing they charge by the meter. They decide which machine to use based on any time restrictions, price, the type of fabric or the difficulty of the design, but of course, if the customer requests one type of printing they will use that. Once the design is printed it cannot be changed in any way, however the fabric can be dyed again. The quality of the printing is nearly the same in most cases, however with some designs, someone with a very good eye might be able to tell the difference between the printing techniques. However, it is believed that digital printing will completely overtake screen printing in the future. After the printing and dyeing, they wash the fabric. Based on the type of fabric and how delicate it is, they may use different techniques for washing it. Then it is packaged accordingly with the brand it will be used for and shipped to the customer, this entire process can take as long as 3-4 months.
Another very interesting thing we learned is that they purchased archives from other countries of different prints and designs, so if a designer wants inspiration, they can see what has been done in the past and use that to create something new. When it comes to sustainability, the company must meet certain criteria, sometimes set by the customers. However, the dye must still be able to meet standards on quality, so they cannot be completely Eco-friendly, but they are still searching for better alternatives. Overall, this large family company is in its fourth generation and still like to mix tradition with innovation. This has always been a large company but has always stayed true to its original standards.