Today’s company visit in Verona was to the Consorzio Della Moda. Although they have a headquarter in Italy, today we went to one of their company’s locations. The Consorzio Della Moda is one of the most interesting (and complex) companies we have learned about. It is not a company in itself, but a group of local Italian companies that have come together to better themselves. This system is similar to the Chamber of Commerce in the United States, which is the world’s largest not-for-profit federation of businesses.
The Consorzio Della Moda came about in 2000 to help local companies with the challenges that they faced selling their products. Five different companies originally came together because it is hard for family owned companies to compete with brand name clothing stores. It is also hard to compete with companies on the opposite side of the spectrum. When the economy slowed down in the early 2000s, it hit a lot of small companies hard because people turned from focusing on quality to focusing on price. This is when stores like Zara and H&M became very popular. With the help of the Consorzio Della Moda, companies were able to reinvent themselves to be able to compete with other fashion companies. Recently, customer demands have done another turn around and are once again focusing on quality of clothing opposed to price.
We had the opportunity to meet and talk about the Consorzio with its president and manager. The president was one of the founding members and also owns one of the businesses within the Consorzio Della Moda. There is a total of 46 companies within the Consorzio, 80% of which are located in Verona. These companies are all mainly producers. The Consorzio does not recruit companies, but the companies come to them looking for help. They do not often deny companies that need this help unless the business has poor ethics. The Consorzio itself only has 1 or 2 actual employees along with their board of directors.
The main goal of the Consorzio Della Moda is to help these struggling companies move forward in production. They carry this out with specific projects that usually adhere to 3-6 companies at a time. It is very difficult for local Italian companies to market to countries overseas such as the United States. International marketization is one of the most useful projects to help businesses with this issue. Another project could be digitalization, because having online shopping can help companies reach markets. The Consorzio is in charge of finding the “know how” of what each company needs help with. In addition, just being a member of the Consorzio helps attract customers to the individual businesses.
Since the Consorzio Della Moda was established, one of the most important projects is education and training of youth in this industry. You can’t help a company reinvent themselves if there is no training in that company. Before 2000, there was not an institute that focused on skills in the fashion design market. Now, they have the ability to turn to a specific institute for training and assessment of the projects. In addition to the projects, another advantage to joining to Consorzio Della Moda is that they are willing to help someone who wants to start their own company. The only problem with this process is that it is harder to get funds for your own business in Italy than it is in the United States.
Today, the individual company site that we visited was called Mero & More. We also got to meet the owner of this business. He explained how the Consorzio gave his company the means to produce his clothing. Production had been stalled, and with the help of the Consorzio they decided to focus on research and development to improve his business. We got to see the production room where textiles were cut as well as the design room where the clothes were actually put together. Mero & More is vertically integrated and they also act as an incubator for other companies. Designer stores such as Gucci hire Mero & More to make their clothing. Without the Consorzio Della Moda though, Mero & More may have never gotten on its feet.
The organizational culture of the Consorzio Della Moda seems to be very organized and mechanical. They are not in charge of the “inspiration” of a company, but how to take the exact steps to make a company successful. It is their job to evaluate each business and to figure out which project is necessary. All of the 46 businesses seem to have a tightly knit community where they all work together to help local Italian business in the long run. It is truly an amazing and charitable concept.