In 2012, I reconnected with the Italian textile production and this brought me back to my roots when I started MTI USA with my brother Francesco. I now represent two important textile manufacturing companies: Fortex (http://www.fortexspa.com/) and Top2Wool from Biella.
Mr Roberto Rosati from Fortex contacted me and flew to NY to "explain" me the collection. He asked me to dedicate 2 working days for this task. What surprised me is that he didn't want to see any customers... just me and my team. I enjoyed his visit and passion, after my initial opposition to such a short flight for this purpose, as I assumed him to be pretty knowledgeable about wool and cotton textile production.
Fortex is really a great sportswear menswear collection in carded wool that is very strong in Europe, while on the US market, it has been pretty weak in the last years due to multiple reasons. Mr Rosati asked me to visit the right customers for his product and bring some orders (small or large, it doesn't matter) in order to start establishing a long term relationship with medium/high end brands. This line is quite well priced too as they use a lot of mixed fibers and recycled wool (I remember when this word was used negatively to indicate cheap raw materials, while now it is a necessity to keep the price down!). I also enjoy working with his team, Annalisa and Antonella that are always busy but hard working and a bit polemic, like in the real Italian spirit. I'm glad after the first season as we are about 300% up the previous year!
Top2Wool is located in the North of Italy (Biella). My long time friend Federica Alberta asked me to take the collection for the US market around May 2012. It's a huge collection where worsted wool and technical qualities predominate. Almost all of them are stretched for women's wear. Due to the finesse of the yarns, the cost of Top2Wool is higher than Fortex and it could be more of a challenge to sell to medium/large customers. Massimo Tescari, the owner, is very creative in presentations. I met him the first time in Premiere Vision this year and he is also very passionate. I really enjoy reading his long emails (also part of the Italian culture and language structure, while in the US, most people try to be very short and clear). Beside Massimo and Federica, I'm in contact with Simonetta that had a bit of a hard time communicating with our customers (every day, they change something in the orders), the MTI team (we are not perfect, I admit it!) and Simona for each shipment.
I have to say that Italians are really good for developments, creativity and great company at the textile trade shows or during customers' visits, but sometimes, they lack of attention in what the customer requires or maybe they just don't agree and they don't want to just execute orders like most of Asian would do because the customer is always right! It's quite a different experience and sometimes, it's also difficult for me as I have been living in NY for almost 17 years and not working with Italian mills for 6 years. Now, I am back with my people and I will try my best to develop this business too.
In bocca al lupo!