Today we visited two fascinating companies, Consorzio Della Moda and Mere & More. The first is a consortium (group of companies) of fashion companies. The second business is a part of the consortium.
Consorzio Della Moda helps local companies to become more stable in the market and to come together to finish a project. It was started in 2000 by 5 presidents of companies which today form the board of directors. There is one outside consultant that helps to regulate the consortium’s actions. Currently there are 46 companies a part of the Consorzio, which encompasses only the Veneto region. This association is recognized by the Venice cluster and the Italian government, enabling it to receive grants which helps them finish projects for its member.
The association was established among the companies because there was a great need for project management. The Consorzio works with the entire supply chain of the fashion industry and many of its members’ supply chains as well. They have dealt with up to 300 companies.
The Consorzio seems like an abstract concept. What can six people do to help local companies master the complicated supply chain of the fashion industry? A lot. They have helped small to medium sized companies from the Veneto area reach global customers through consulting. To start the process of guiding the members of the consortium, the outside consultant works with representatives from each company. Together, they outline projects, budgets, and ideas to improve each company.
This association is strictly a service provider, it does not produce any product. The Consorzio provides many different types of services, each unique based upon the member’s needs. Their main goal is educate and train both the company and the upcoming youth interested in the fashion industry; therefore, they can all work together to manage profitable projects. Besides helping to institute fashion oriented education, the consortium focuses on internationalization and commercialization of its members. It can be very difficult for small companies in Veneto to branch out into larger markets. One company alone does not have all the knowledge to succeed in the difficult fashion industry, but by working together there is much success. The consortium provides this networking and connection information, especially for foreign contacts. They also support connect companies to one another based on each other’s needs. Finally, they help with the branding and advertising of the companies. Sometimes the product is not the most important factor in becoming profitable, but instead the way in which it is marketed.
These are critical services for small, local companies that do not have the capability or knowledge to succeed. It seemed at first to me that only the lucky few would be let into this elite association of infinite contacts and business advice. However that is not the case. Companies must only come to the Consorzio and be willing to share their own personal resources and projects with others. While there are entrance fees, annual fees, and extra project fees (when a project is larger than what is encompassed in the annual fee), cooperation and collaboration are the only requirements of a Consorzio member. Companies are not turned down membership often because of this.
The companies that join the Consorzio are production companies. These are companies that focus on production issues. Other companies come to them with fashion designs that must be made on an industrial level.
There are many advantages to becoming a member of the Consorzio. Companies can receive crucial information regarding mass production. They receive advice on how to efficiently cut fabric, obtain textiles, and maintain high quality. By connecting with numerous other supply chains they can increase their efficiency, their edge on other companies not a part of the consortium, and their clientele.
An inferred disadvantage is competition. Do these companies compete with one another for customers? Some of the companies produce similar products, however by joining the consortium they must look past it. The Consorzio believes the world is big enough to accommodate all of its members. They also reminded us that these are small, local companies and are not considered “the big players” in the fashion industry anyway. Therefore, they will always be competing with the larger brands that have more recognition regardless of whether or not they join the association. The benefits of the Consorzio far outweigh this disadvantage.
Not only were we able to learn about the work of the Consorzio, we toured a member of the association, Mero & More. This company can be considered an “incubator” for fashion innovation. Start up fashion companies pay for space in the building and access to all the production amenities it offers, such as design areas, stylists, textiles, and production lines. It is a very innovative and progressive idea. This company is helping design companies begin to pave their own way in the fashion industry. It’s is a hub of creativity and encouragement. Not only does it feature its own production amenities, but as a member of the Consorzio it has access to all those services as well.
I think that the overall company structure of the Consorzio and the relationships between members is most analogous to contractors in the United States. Either companies or people contact a contractor requesting a building to be produced. In order to efficiently do so, they call upon numbers parties. Together companies that focus on tile, air conditioning/heating, and all the necessary parts that make up a house complete the project. Independently, it may be difficult for these companies to succeed, but by forming a relationship with the contractor they have more access to project opportunities.
Although it is a complex web of supply chains and services, the Consorzio ultimately acts as the middleman between obstacles and success. With great experience and a wide range of knowledge and service, it is helping to support the Italian way of fashion, which is simply high quality fashion.