Day trip to Como

Hello again from Italy!!! Today I am writing not from Milan but from Lake Como, where we visited a silk company called Mantero! This company manufactures silk fabrics for luxury brands and also uses some of their products to create finished accessories to sell. Because they mainly only create fabrics, they do not create dresses or other clothing items. In this way, they are suppliers to the companies with whom they are partners. My favorite part of this company visit was going through the factories and seeing the different ways that fabrics are created! Our guide through the factory explained to us that there were two ways in which these fabrics can be produced. In the traditional method, the design has to be created, the fabric has to be woven, and the colors for the pattern have to go on the fabric one at a time, and the material has to be washed before putting in another color. Although the traditional method seems to me like the more personalized and more exclusive method because of all of the work that goes into it, I also like digital method because, from what I can see, it is more sustainable because the whole pattern goes on at once and does not have to be washed each time.

One thing I was surprised about at this particular company visit was how they claimed that they prioritized sustainability but did not divulge the specific practices that they do to actually validate this claim. However, I looked at their website and was extremely impressed by how they follow through with their emphasis on sustainability in all of its aspects. For example, I was thoroughly impressed by how they provide equal opportunity for all employees and strive for gender equality. Several businesses and industries in the United States could learn a lesson or two from this perfect example of social sustainability that Mantero has executed wonderfully. For the environment, Mantero has made great strides as well, which I can certainly appreciate due to its relevance to my major. For example, they have created a photovoltaic energy production system to reduce their use of nonrenewable energy sources and use LED lights to save electricity consumption.

Another thing I noticed about the company that I thought was quite different than a company in the US was the lack of safety regulations. At the factory, we were just strolling in and out of large machines, walking among vehicles transporting carts of materials, and listening to very loud noises. In the US, we probably would have seen the material producing process less close up because of all of these rules and regulations. We probably would have walked through the factory on the side without going in between machines and watching these operations happen. Also, we would not have been allowed to be near the vehicles transporting these fabrics on the off chance that we get hit by one, and we wouldn’t have been able to be near the loud noises. However, I am quite glad for all of these differences from United States because I would not have a good understanding of fabric manufacturing if I was not able to be so up-close to all of the operations. I thought it was very cool that we were able to go in to each place and be able to see exactly what was happening instead of having someone simply tell us what was going on. Clearly our first company visit was an incredible success!

Next we visited the famously gorgeous Lake Como, which definitely lived up to its expectations despite the rainy weather. It was so cool to see all of the houses on the hill; it was a sight that can only be seen in Italy! We even got to boat by George and Amal Clooney’s villa on the lake, but unfortunately they were not outside on their patio to greet us as we boated by as I had hoped. I learned their house used to belong to the Heinz family, a name that is very large in Pittsburgh!

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