I am on a plane flying back from visiting a textile mill located about 50 Kilometers north of Milan in a beautiful mountain town. Not far from Bergamo and thirty minutes from the Swiss border and the Alps, this particular facility creates beautiful blankets, throws, pillows and assorted other lifestyle items for everyone from the most well-known Italian fashion houses, to auto brands like Porsche and even for the Carbinari – the Italian Police. They work primarily with wool, cashmere and silk that they source from across the globe and bring to their beautiful facility in the Italian Alps. It’s a family operation where multiple generations design and create luxurious products that go into homes, restaurants, stores and hotels around the world. With some diligent research and referrals, my intrepid partner was able to locate them specifically, because they were the perfect match for our values and our mission to create timeless products designed to last a lifetime.
It was my initial visit to meet the family and spend time in their design showroom. We annually visit each of our manufacturing partners’ production facilities to ensure compliance with Fair Trade & Labor regulations and the environmental integrity of their production processes. But this journey was as much about getting to know the people and their attitude and culture about their business, their attention to detail and their passion for creating beautiful things. Further, because we are relative neophytes at the business of making bags, accessories and lifestyle items, it represented an opportunity for us to learn from them, based on their experience and expertise and view items they are creating for some of the most highly recognized brands in the world. What are the best fabrics? How does the cashmere or wool receive a dye in the absolute right color to match our university or professional team color standards? What is the ideal size for a blanket or pillow when it resides on a bed, couch or in a vehicle? What stitching approach is unique, durable and aesthetically pleasing from their perspective? While we walked away far smarter about the technical aspects of production, natural fibers, durability and what other esteemed brands they work with desire and create, there was something beneath the surface we experienced during our time together—
That every meeting should start with an espresso and a shot of home-made grappa from a secret family recipe.
That the passion for creating beautiful, lasting things breaks down language barriers and cuts across cultures.
That respect for the customer and the drive to craft something beautiful and desired delivers a winning outcome.
That the best business relationships are grounded on getting to know each other. Not strictly about the cost equation, production efficiency or expertise of the manufacturer.
That generational, family businesses are a great match for our brand that stands on a foundation of “A Legacy is Forever” and a tagline “Til Death do us Part.”
That Italy and Italian craftsmanship and design is tough to top. Fashion. Art and Culture. Cuisine. Automobiles and Bicycles. There is a reason for this and it’s deeply embedded in their DNA.
It’s not just about what they do. Rather, who they are and how they are built to create some of the most exquisite products and consumer experiences in the world. And getting to know them and listening to them and laughing with them. And even drinking grappa with them will only make what we do better for our customers and their willingness to purchase Heritage Gear for many years to come.