We were lucky enough to have another beautiful day in Italy! We rode a bus of amazing views to our first site visit. The Sartorial Tailoring company is a smaller company than most. However, the company was able to grow from just six employees to 38 employees. Even though the company is a tailoring company, only 15 percent of their employees do tailoring and the rest of them focus on the task of logistics. A mountain of a task, given the circumstances of alterations. Everything has to be hand made, so they have tailors hand sew each step of the suit: a throwback on mass production. The business structure is slower because of the custom made nature of the products. The process of employees learning how to produce is slower as well. It takes 2-3 months to have a proficient level of training while it takes nearly 3 years to be considered skilled at tailoring. The training never really ends though, there is always more to learn. A big problem the tailoring company faces are their tailors. It is hard to find workers in the dying industry of tailoring, young people would rather work as a clerk than be sewing all day. Although I think the tailoring company is very efficient, I might suggest that the company try to market to potential employees in a more appealing way. This could be done by emphasizing the company’s culture and perhaps offer even better benefits to the potential employees. This could lead to younger employees, less turnover, and hence lower costs.
Mario Foroni, like the Sartoria Tailoring company, would be considered a part of the fashion supplier industry. This is a particularly tough industry to be a part of, especially in today’s economic hardships. Mario Foroni has competition that is both domestic and abroad. The challenge Mario Foroni faces is trying to compete with those companies that make lesser quality but lesser price goods. They also need to compete with the economy by making sure that their product is affordable. I would say that the industry has relatively high entrance barriers, the cost and difficulty of establishing ones self in the industry is immense thanks to the deep network already in place. Mario Foroni is a much bigger company than the tailoring company. Although the site we visited was simply more of their prototype factory, it was still massive. Mario Foroni’s supply chain has numerous steps. The first step of the business is negotiating with clients to establish a price and style. This can be a difficult part of the supply chain because the customers have sometimes unrealistic demands given their price range. The second step of the process is the intricacies of the design department; they work hard to make the perfect prototypes. The design department will often work from 7:30 in the morning to 10 pm at night. The third step is then giving the prototype to their numerous factories to produce for the clients. The supply chain is essential in this entire process because a 50$ increase in production can lead to a 500$ increase in final cost. Costs must be cut when possible, but all while maintaining quality. This leads to a constant internal battle between the marketing people who want efficiency and the dreamy eyed designers who want vision. The trouble of any supply chain and business is compromising on the two. Mario Foroni even has a squad of computer programmers to make sure the most economically efficient methods are being employed for their knitting. The delicate nature of the products also requires more steps in the supply chain. Everything needs to be done in parts, and often the products need to be washed and fixed as well. All of these steps and costs add up. Since knitwear is much more difficult than regular fabric, many extra skills are required. Fashion school helps give a baseline, but only true work experience teaches how to properly make the materials. Mario says that it takes about 4-6 years to be proficient at knitwear, but only if you have the passion and natural skill. In order to try and have more talented knitwear professionals, Mario is actually in the process of opening up a school for improving design and excellence, this will help vertically integrate their personal supply chain. I think Mario Foroni is extremely successful, but I think they have a lot of room to cut costs. They have a huge facility that has a lot of extra rooms that could be taken advantage of. In addition, I noticed that a lot of the factory area was rather messy. In a business where secrecy among clients is essential, messiness leaves too much room for error in my opinion. Overall, it was amazing to see some more of the behind the scenes action of fashion. My mind was blown over the fact that Kanye was in the same place I was. I am sad the trip is coming to a close but excited for more business visits!