Today we were lucky enough to visit not one but two amazing companies. Sartoria Cavour Tailoring Company and Mario Faroni Knitwear each have different business structures that give them unique approaches to production. The first business we visited, Sartoria Cavour Tailoring, was one of my favorite sight visits so far. It was a small workshop, and one of the first things I noticed when I walked in were the beautiful men’s suit jackets. They are a part of the 46 companies of the Consorzio Della Moda, so I was glad we had some background already. This company started 30 years ago, and the owner (who was dressed in a perfectly fitting suit) comes from a family of tailors. They started with only 6 or 7 employees but have expanded to 37 which is a lot for a small Italian company.
This business structure has two approaches. They do specific custom made tailoring for specific customers and they have brands that contact them for clothing. Two of their more popular clients are Ralph Lauren and Polo. These companies give Sartoria Cavour the specific measurements they need and then they do the mass producing. Because Sartoria Cavour is not mass producing at this location, they are making prototypes and production is very specific. We got to see the workroom where several women were working in an assembly line like process. Each person has a specific job and the fabric gets passed through the different stations until it is a finished product. The employees only work part time and for good pay but the company, like most small Italian businesses, is having trouble recruiting young people to come work there.
It is also an issue because someone can’t just walk in and begin working as a tailor. The basic beginning of the training period is 2-3 months and takes 2 years for the entire cycle to be complete. Unfortunately, tailors are dying as a breed of a job. It is a long process and it is hard for customers to take the time to come in to have a tailor suit made. The Sartoria Cavour is also still picking up out of the recession because the economy in Italy has been shakier. They work overseas and are trying to help these issues by reaching the United States market. The owner is currently in the process of collaborating with a US client to have this line in America for more customers to enjoy. I hope this happens so that the hard work of the employees and the specific production process pays off
The overall industry of this company is very interesting. The major product category is specifically men’s suit jackets. The major competitors of the firm are departments stores and tuxedo or suit shops that do not charge as much. Although it is costly for a tailor-made jacket, they are meant to last up to ten years and the classic designs inspired by England do not go out of style. Some of the unique challenges that Sartoria Cavour faces include finding young people to work for them and marketing outside of Italy like I mentioned above.
The first thing I noticed when we visited the second company, Mario Faroni Knitwear, was that it was much larger and more modern. They consider themselves more of an atelier, where they make the first prototypes and fashion runway examples. MF1 seems to have very personal relationships with customers as part of their business structure. Some of their customers even include Kanye West and Kate Middleton! Their first step in the knitwear making process is discussing what the client wants. The most important factor for this company is quality, but customers focus on price and quality so they have to come to agreements. The next step in production is the design department. Compared to the Sartoria Cavour Tailoring Company, the employee hours are much harsher. The hours span from 7:30am to 10pm especially when they are making fashion shows. When producing their products, there are many departments such as programming, machinery, laundry, sewing, and packaging.
They do not mass produce at this location, but designers will come to them to make their clothes. Stella McCartney is an example of one of these designers, and MF1 has been with her through her journey of becoming a well-known designer. MF1 also makes a lot of their own designs because most customers are not exactly sure what they want. They are launching a new line in September, and it will be cheaper to sell directly to the consumer.
They have approximately 75 employees and 60 factories. Workers come in with some experience (usually from their families), but the best training is actual experience in the company. They are trying to expand upon these abilities by stirring up the idea of adding a school. According to Mr. Mario Faroni, the most important quality of joining this industry is having the passion and motivation to do so.