Today we went on a bus ride to Lake Como. It started with a tour of the Mantero silk company. This is a family run company that designs and makes silk for high end fashion companies to design clothes out of. They called themselves the “ghost writers of the fashion industry” since the fabric they design is often what gives the products made buy the other companies there distinct style. The silk is of great quality but the beautiful designs is what makes Mantero stand out. They have to be constantly keeping up with trends and more importantly, making them. Because of this, keeping there new designs from leaking before release is of utmost importance. We were told that recently an employee was fired immediately after posting a picture of a new fabric design to social media. The design space in the factory looked like an awesome place to work with a very open floor plan, offices walled by glass to give them an open feel, and book shelves filled with design books and fabric catalogues. We also visited a library containing books with samples of fabrics they have made dating back to the 80’s. They are very careful with them and do not allow clients to take them out of the library in order to preserve them. The factory floor was all fairly automated large spools of fabric ready to be printed on and washed by large machinery. The tour leader described two methods for printing the designs on the silk. The first being similar to a printer printing an image on a piece of paper. However, the fabric can also be made by printing each color on individually. This creates a richer color to the fabric but is more difficult to create.
After this we walked through the lakeside town of Como and went on a boat tour of the lake to see all the multi-million dollar houses on the lake. Many of the shops in the town were very small and contained only a small handful of inventory. It is clear they relied on selling very few products, at a very high price. This kind of business model can only be successful in areas like this that are a small pocket of extreme wealth. It was reminiscent of the city of Carmel, which I used to visit when I lived in California.