Today we departed from Verona and returned to Milan. It is exciting to be back in Milan, but this is an unfortunate reminder that our trip is coming to the end. To wrap up our mini tour of Italy, we visited two companies in the Verona area, Sartoria Cavour Tailoring Company and Mario Faroni Knitwear (MF1). Both are a part of the Consorzio from yesterday, however they each have a unique product. This adds value to the Consorzio because the great variety of businesses leads to increased resources and connections.
The first company we visited was Sartoria Cavour Tailoring Company. This is a small tailoring business started by two men 30 years ago that came from tailoring families. It is a very traditional company that were taught by the best tailors. Starting with only seven employees, they have expanded their company to now 37 employees.
Sartoria Cavour focuses of menswear, specifically tailored suits. These suits are not mass produced, instead they are very complicated and handmade. Although the company is still picking itself up from rough economic times, they are able to produce up to 60 tailored jackets a day. They receive orders in two ways. Clients can come to them requesting a custom jacket or they provide service to private labels, their main way of production. High end fashion labels, such as Ralph Lauren Polo, come to Sartoria Cavour requesting their suit jacket designs be produced.
Once they are commissioned to do work either by an independent client or a private label, stylists at Sartoria Cavour modify the design to make sure they are producible. They fit all the pieces together in an efficient and profitable manner. With a final design, textiles are chosen. Textiles can come from Italy, England, Ireland, or other countries depending upon the client or type of suit. The jackets are meant to last up to 10 years, so they must be able to withstand ironing, aging, cleaning, etc. After textiles are chosen, the pieces are sewn. They are sewn directly in the company in an assembly line fashion. The employees, which are all women roughly over the age of 40, each sew individual pieces of the jacket which are hand sewn together in the final step. Quality check is then all done by hand to ensure the product is up to luxury standards. This entire process takes about 3 hours for a very basic model but the time can greatly vary based on the jacket’s complexity. The company focuses on the fit of the jacket, specifically the intricacies of the inside. Therefore, they take their time in producing high quality clothing.
Sartoria Cavour is currently trying to expand their markets oversees by partnering with a United States company interested in selling their product. However, there may be limitations in this. As mentioned before, they only have 37 employees, all of which are women over the age of 40. While they pay good wages for part time positions, they have trouble finding younger employees who want to carry on the tradition of a well tailored, handmade suit. It takes 2-3 months to train a new employee, while it takes about 2 years to master the art of tailoring. Hopefully, this company can expand their workforce without compromising on their dream of venturing into international markets.
Mario Faroni Knitwear (MF1) was the second company we visited today. Their specialty is luxury knitwear clothing for high end fashion labels. Unlike the first company, MF1 is only commissioned for work by high end fashion labels. The first step in their production process is meeting with the client and discussing ways to maximize quality at the lowest possible cost. Then they move to the design department, where programmers create stitch designs based on the clients preferences and needs. These programmers are highly skilled designers that create stitch designs using a computer program that a machine can read and produce. Their ultimate goal is to find a faster way to create their knitwear products without losing quality or style. The prototype design is then sent to the machines where the individual knitwear components (sleeves, fronts, backs, etc.) are created. This is done with yarn that is from Italy (90%), Japan, France, and the United States. Once all the component parts are completed, the finished design is completely hand finished. From simply putting it together, to small details, ironing, washing, and finally quality control, everything is done by hand, this is the fact that separates them from a typical knitwear company. MF1 works with very high end clients, ranging from Gucci, Kayne West, Kate Middleton, Madonna, to Versace. Their passion and ethic for their work is admirable.
MF1 too is venturing into new fields. This September they plan to release their own line of knitwear fashion, as opposed to letting their designs go under private labels. Yet, similar to Santoria Cavour there are limitations in their workforce. They are struggling to find skilled workers to keep up with their high demand. In order to hopefully resolve this issue, they are in the process of starting a school in conjunction with their company. This would teach passionate students how to sew and design, encouraging them to become a part of MF1, thus enabling them to further expand.
While the two companies produce different products, they follow similar business structures. Clients come to them requesting their product, they come up with a manageable design, and they produce the design for their client to sell. Both hope to expand into new markets, but are also experiencing similar workforce limitations. Skilled workers are needed to continue the tradition of handmade, high quality clothing. The companies take pride in their designs and wish the markets would focus less on the price required to complete projects and more on the fashion and quality.