Today we visited one of the Consorzio Della Moda’s 46 member businesses. The Consorzio is a place that offers business advice and strategies to textile firms that are struggling. The business that we visited today was Mero and More, a member of the Consorzio who rents out areas such as a production factory, a design studio, and a photo center to other members. The whole thing is quite confusing, but basically the consortium’s rule is that if you are a member, you must also be willing to help and share knowledge with other members. The issue is that the Venito region of the country is saturated with textile production. There are 350 textile companies, 800 clothing companies, 25% of manufacturing in the region is of textiles, 20% of the entire fashion market nationally comes from here, and there are 1300 companies for clothing manufacturing. While these are a lot of numbers to digest, it is important to understand how much competition there is for this industry in the Venito area. If a textile company is falling short and cannot keep up with the competition, they can consult the Consorzio for assistance.
Most manufacturing businesses in the textile industry have under 50 employees and are family owned and run. Since these are mostly small to medium sized businesses, these stores may not be able to keep up with the large, fast fashion chains such as H&M and Zara. If necessary, the small businesses will reach out to the consortium for help. As aforementioned, the consortium has many functions that are used to help businesses that need assistance in the fashion industry. They work as a sort of consulting firm, offering advice on how a company can reinvent itself in the ever changing industry. They also provide more tangible aid, such as space to design, style, manufacture, store, and photograph clothes. In Mero and More’s space, they even have their own store. Of course, this comes at a price. The Consorzio charges an initial fee and an annual membership fee, and this is how they gain a profit. It is quite impressive to see how this type of business can help an entire industry as a whole. Something that is similar to a consortium is the Chamber of Commerce, which is a local organization of local businessmen that promote the wellbeing of those businesses. This is similar to the Consorzio, because it also is focused on businesses offering necessary services to other businesses. There are not many of these types of associations that I have heard about in the US, so I would be interested to know if any exist other than this. From what I saw today, there are many advantages for the businesses that are part of the consortium. First, they are provided with an outside perspective on how they can improve their business in an innovative way. This is especially important in the fashion industry, as originality pays off. Also, the company can get tangible amenities to help improve their business such as a factory for production or an area for design. These are especially important in this industry, and companies such as Mero and More have benefited greatly from the opportunity to expand and improve their company. Other advantages include the help from other businesses in the Consorzio, as it is a unique advantage in the marketplace to have help from a firm that may also be your competition.
It is also important to analyze the fashion industry in the Venito region. As aforementioned, it is very concentrated and is responsible for a large amount of the revenue made in that area. The major product categories can vary, but in general you can divide it by male and female clothing, high end and lower quality clothing, seasonal and year round clothing, adult’s and children’s clothing, etc. These are just a few of the ways to define the industry, but I believe we have mainly focused on men and women’s higher end clothing on this trip. The firm’s major competitors are hard to define, because the Consorzio is a unique business in Italy. I would consider large, fast fashion chains to be somewhat of a competitor for them though, because the businesses that pay them are competing with those such as Zara. If the bigger businesses put Consorzio members out of business, the Consorzio would go out of business too. Also, firms in this industry face several unique challenges, including having to keep up with the latest trends. Today in the Mero and More store, I did not see too many pieces that I would recognize as in style. Even if the products are good quality compared to stores such as H&M, they will never be able to compete with them. The fashion industry requires a special level of innovation that no other industry must encounter. There are also some unique opportunities in this industry, however. By creating high quality, in style products, firms can establish brand loyalty and perhaps even charge higher prices for their products. While this does happen in many other industries such as in technology, the fashion industry is unique because there is less risk associated with it. For example, Samsung had established brand loyalty amongst many customers, but when one of their phone’s batteries was catching on fire while in use, this reduced their credibility as a company. It would be difficult for clothing to ever be particularly dangerous to anyone. While there are some challenges to the fashion industry that some firms cannot overcome without help, it is a rewarding and fascinating industry that has many unique advantages.