Today was pretty busy. Not only did we pack up to get ready to move to Milan, but we also had TWO professional business visits today. This was more than normal so we definitely had a lot of information thrown out at us but, overall, it was a very productive and eye opening day.
We our first company was Sartoria Cavour Tailoring Company. This one was probably my favorite of the entire trip because it focused only on the production and tailoring of suit jackets and suits. The business itself was very small, having only around 37 employees in total. Now this is obviously a big issue for the company as a whole because they are unable to produce as large of a quantity as many other companies in the same amount of time. It’s for this reasons that they focus so heavily on their quality. In the case of this company, however, they are heavily reliant on their business with other companies. For example, one company that Cavour works with a lot is Ralph Lauren Polo. They will come to Cavour and tell them what style jacket they want and what sizes that want produced and then Cavour will make it and send it to them to sell. They do have business from individuals coming in to buy a suit since, as the owner told us, a true gentleman will have at least five in his closet.
Now the company itself was started 30 years before and had only 6 employees working out of a garage. Now they have been able to expand much more but, as mentioned above, they are still in need of business. It’s for this reason that they are currently working to partnering with a company to be able to sell their goods overseas in the United States. This would be very important because, in the case of the company, most of their employees are middle-aged women. So the company has the issue where there are not a lot of young people lining up to work here because they would rather work somewhere else more fun. The question, therefore, is what the company will do what their current employees grow too old to work. As of now the company doesn’t necessarily know what to do in that case but hopefully they will be able to expand more and pull in more workers if they are able to expand their reach overseas.
One thing that Cavour definitely has going for them, however, is the industry they are in. The suit industry is one that is always needed. The style is one that holds very consistent over the years and it one that can be used for so much. People buy suit jackets for both everyday use and for special occasions where they dress up. This is obviously a huge opportunity for the company because, instead of worrying constantly about both how they will keep their employees and how to keep of the trends, they can focus on issues such as employees because they know their product will continued to be needed. They do however have heavy competition because there are a lot of companies out there that produce suit jackets. In their case, then, instead of competing for the best style, they will need to compete with these companies using their quality and their pricing.
The second company we visited was Mario Faroni Knitware. Now, Mario Faroni was one of the most impressive of all of the companies due to its customer base. Walking around their factory we saw pictures of their products in Vogue magazines. That was the first hint of the type of company we were dealing with. At the end, however, we found out that they deal with high rolling companies such as Gucci, Versace, and many others. They have also designed clothes worn by Kanye, Kim Kardashian, and even Kate Middleton.
The way this company does business is heavily based on their customers. The customer will come into the factory we visited today and propose an idea. Sometimes they have an idea of what they want to be produced and can give a lot of details but other times they can simply say “we want a new sweater” and then the designers at Mario Faroni have to go to work trying to design something new. The factory we were in was specifically responsible to produce prototypes or small limited edition batches.
Once the design is perfected it is sent out to their other factories to be produced and sent to the company to be sold. Mario Faroni prides itself on the high quality of its products so they make sure to make sure there is no extra stitching or cuts in the material since that is the difference between a high quality textile and a lower quality one.
So, as a summary, Mario Faroni takes the idea from the customer and produces a prototype that, when approved, is sent out to his other factories where it is produced in larger quantities and then sent out to the company that requested it. Between these steps, however, there are many things that the company needs to worry about. For example, our guide told us that they often produce a lot of scrap material because if there is any imperfection the whole garment is scrapped and they need to start again. This is obviously not very sustainable and bad for the environment because it results in more trash and the need for more raw materials. Also, similarly to Cavour, they are at a loss for young, skilled workers. They do have a plan though. Mario Faroni is planning on building a school for working with knitware near the factory where they will train young students with the necessary skills to be successful in the knitware industry. They are hoping that this will bring in more skilled workers to help keep the company going strong for years down the future.
Overall we saw two very competent companies today that were very influential in the major companies that they supply. I enjoyed seeing the high quality suits available at Cavour and the clothing at Mario Faroni that has been worn even by royalty. The only way this day could have been better would have been if I took all of the clothes home with me.