On the 10th day in Italy, we visited the Sartoria Cavour tailoring company, and the Mario Faroni Knitwear company on the way back from Verona to Milan. Both of these companies are part of the consortium mentioned yesterday, so they occasionally can work together. Even as part of the consortium, the two companies have completely different business strategies and that was evident during my visit today. During both visits I decided to compare and contrast both companies typical practices.
Santoria Cavour is a tailoring company that started as a very small business with few employees, but today has 37 employees which is typical for a small to mid-sized Italian fashion company. The company is taking advantage of the fact that many individual tailors are going out of business and is filling the gap as a big company that consumers can go to for tailored suits. They mainly focus on making suits and they strive to make jackets that can last people around 10 years. In order to ensure the highest possible quality and to keep the tradition of tailoring to an individuals interest, this company stays away from mass production and runs more of an individualized approach than many of the other bigger companies. Customers of this company include both individual people and large companies that make suits, even including the big name company of Ralph Lauren. Most of the inspiration comes from London, England instead of Italy as the concept of tailoring began in England, and tailoring has become a lot more of a common practice in England than in Italy. One challenge this company faces in general is the fact that the company is often only needed few times by each customer. Because jackets are supposed to last 10 years customers are often not loyal, as they only need only a few jackets to last them 10 years. This issue also ties into reducing waste, as they do not need to mass produce products so they often have no use for waste. Regardless of these challenges, Sartoria Cavour continues to grow and become more popular in the Verona area.
Mario Faroni Knitwear (MF1) is a high class knitwear company founded by Mario Faroni around 40 years ago, that knits a wide variety of items in a time range of anywhere from 5 minutes to 12 hours. Their customers include big brands like Gucci, small brands, and direct customers including icons like Kanye West and Kate Middleton. MF1’s process begins by importing the worlds finest yarn from Japan, Italy and China. The company then makes designs and works with stylists on a personal level to synchronize and finds out exactly what the customer wants. The exact employee working with the customer is often switched, just to find the perfect customer to employee connection, as synchronization is a high priority for MF1. Once they’ve reached a conclusion, the stylist takes over and a label is put on each article of clothing for the company and MF1 is paid. MF1 hasn’t done any of their own business directly to consumers yet, however in September, they plan to release a new line of clothing, making them a downstream producer directly to the consumer. Some challenges they face include a dealing with a large amount of waste, and inexperience in selling directly to the consumer. They charge high prices which often cancels out the waste as the production price of material is often much cheaper then the price of the final product. To gain experience in the market, they plan to release a new type of clothing line that depends on the mood that the consumer is in. Even if this fails, they are still a well-known producer and will continue to sell to big name brands and big name people.
I was personally fascinated by both of these visits, as I was able to see more of the large consortium. On the first visit I feel like I was able to fully understand the mission of Santori Cavouri to take the place of individual tailors, and how they’ve succeeded in doing so and by joining the consortium. On the second visit I was able to connect to Mario Faroni on a personal level, as he gave the group second portion of the tour. I was thrilled to be able to learn about his clients personally, and then after the tour I asked him about a soccer ball he had that was signed by an AC Milan player. For 5 minutes he delightedly told me about how the ball was signed by a famous soccer star, and showed me pictures of his son who was coached by the star. This experience of interacting with him on a personal level really showed me that a lot of the bad reputation given to designers for being stuck up and impolite is completely false, and that they can be be extremely friendly and interesting. I was fascinated by the visits today and even meeting Mario Faroni in person, and I am excited to go back to Milan tonight. Stay tuned!