Can’t Say No to Celine

So much in one day! We had 3 company site visits and a bus trip back to Milan. The longest day we have had so far. First stop: Grupo Sinergia. This company focuses on overseeing logistics for their clients. The warehouses prepare the packing and shipping of their clients’ products. Grupo Sinergia is similar to but definitely not Amazon. They do not used automated machines in majority of the packaging process. Employees package each box individually because the company values the customer experience and the care of their packages rather than the quickness of the shipping. Because their strategy allows for their clients to build trust in them, they haven’t lost a client in the last 10 years. On our tour, we visited one of Grupo’s warehouses that included their smaller packages for business to customer models. In total, though, the company has four warehouses, the other three focusing on large packages for business to customer, small packages for business to business, and large packages for business to business. Right next door to the warehouses was the second company visit of the day, Sartoria Cavour. This factory‘s niche is tailoring and producing high-end jackets. This includes made-to-measure jackets for individual clients, or shipments of collections for certain brands or stores like Ralph Lauren and Burberry. All the work, from the beginning to the end, of making a jacket is done in this warehouse. For the most part, their products fall into two seasons: spring into summer, and fall into winter. Within these two collections, the cloth comes from linen, cotton, bamboo, silk, wool, and so on. With beautiful quality cloth and careful hand making, the jackets rack up in price. “Expensive” just defines Italian fashion in one word, according to the tailoring master himself. The final company visit of this day was yet another company that works with other brands and stores to create products through every step of the production process all in-house. Mario Foroni 1, a luxury knitwear factory, welcomed us into their large modern space to show us around. For an example on how they work with other brands, our guide showed us a vintage Gucci vest that they were given by the brand because it is the inspiration for Gucci’s new line coming out in August. So MF1 takes this inspiration, follows the brand’s instructions for the design, and then creates the product. We then actually saw that specific finished product that will be shown in the Paris fashion show. Along the way we also saw Alexander McQueen sweaters being made as well. Pretty cool stuff. MF1 will make the sweaters and knitwear, and they’ll label each item and prepare the packaging for the brand. The brand will send the exact amount of packaging bags and labels because there can be absolutely no extras for any workers to abuse for personal reasons. If a label is lost, the factory must forward a long document to the brand explaining precisely what was lost, the located and time of the incident. Basically, the company needs to profusely apologize to the brand. Fortunately they claim to not face many problems with the labels. MF1 provides guarantees of excellent service, and they always deliver. The tour guide shared some stories explaining their commitments. A year ago, they got a 2:00 am call from Celine because the brand needed a sweater by 7:00 am, so Mario opened the factory in the middle of the night to make that sweater because they have to keep their trust in these brands. Another story included these extravagant pants they made for Madonna. They only had 3 days to complete the project that would normally take 300 hours of work. But when you get a call from a Madonna, you have to do it. One aspect of the factory that makes these projects more attainable, is the large access to yarn. There is a large warehouse of all different yarns stacked to the high ceilings; having these yarns accessible in the factory allows the process to be faster because they don’t have to contact Milan short-notice for more yarn. Mario Foroni, the man and the company, also opened a brand new academy for students to design and produce their own collections. They learn each step in the production process and get to practice using the programming systems and machines that the actual factory uses. We met both Mario Foroni and his wife, Paola Titoni, who own this awesome factory. They were so humble and gracious, and were very excited to host 24 American students. Overall, all the companies were extremely interesting to visit and watch the behind-the-scenes actions of Italian fashion. Back to Milan at the end of the day, and I took yet another nap on the bus home. I’ll spend my last couple nights in Italy reflecting on this amazing trip and saying farewell to an even more amazing country.

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