Day 9 in Italy was a good one. There was nothing going on this morning, so we had the opportunity to explore the city before our site visits. It was fun to just aimlessly wander Verona. One thing we have had a lot of time to do is wander throughout the five cities we have been to throughout this trip. I am not complaining at all, as I enjoy being thrust into a place with no prejudgments and learning about it that way. Verona is such a beautiful city, and I can see why Shakespeare decided to make this city famous. After our free morning, we visited Mero & More, one of the 46 member companies of the Consorzio della Moda (Fashion Consortium). A consortium is a group of companies coming together in order to help each other out in a very competitive field such as the fashion industry in Italy. It is very similar to a chamber of commerce in cities in the United States. In Veneto, there are clusters of companies divided into which service or product they provide. The consortium is a part of the fashion cluster on Veneto. Just as some background information on the visit from today, 25% of the manufacturing in Veneto is in the fashion industry. Also, 20% of the fashion market in all of Italy is from the region of Veneto, so the consortium here is a very big deal.
The consortium does a variety of things for its member companies. First, there are a few fees (entrance, yearly, project based) that the member companies pay. The consortium also is project based, meaning that companies will come to them with specific ideas for projects in mind. Most, if not all, of the companies in the consortium are very small. They are small family businesses which do not have the resources to compete on their own, so they join in order to get an edge up on the competition. These companies agree to work with each other and pool their expertise and resources together so that every member can benefit. In turn, the consortium will provide them with resources to advance themselves. Some of these resources include industrialization, internationalization, and technological advancements. The consortium will also act as a marketing department for these companies, taking them to world fashion expos and other events. It acts as a sort of “incubator for the fashion industry.” The typical company that would join the consortium is a small, family-owned business which most likely started in someone’s garage. These small businesses have no chance to make it big without a little help. Joining the consortium gives them the advantages of interacting in the market like the larger companies they are competing with.
We visited one of the many member companies today, Mero & More (pictured above). This is a production company. This means that they are producing the ideas that designers come up with. They figure out how to transfer a design into something you can wear, and then mass produce it as well. This company rents out their space so that designers can create and work on their designs in house. The textiles for each design are cut at Mero & More, sent out to be sewn together, and then brought back for quality control. After this process, the tags of the company producing the design (Gucci, Prada, etc.) are put on the items and then sent out to be sold in market.
For the consortium, there is a specific organizational culture about it. Firstly, the consortium is made up of a variety of administrative members as well. There are local administrative bodies, Italian and foreign chambers of commerce, professional associations, and universities/scholastic institutions all included in the consortium. For the company we visited today, there was a very informal vibe that I got from it. The artists and stylists were able to work as they pleased, nothing incredibly strict. The creative juices were flowing throughout the entire firm. There was no real organization to the firm. In hindsight, we have only seen 1 of the 46 companies that are a part of the consortium, so it is hard to guess if every one of them is like this, but we will be seeing more tomorrow, so I will be able to judge it better then. The consortium is a great resource for many of the small businesses in an area which is noted for the high traffic of small and mid-sized firms. Joining the consortium seems like a great business plan for the companies that have a killer product, but just not the resources to make their dreams a reality.