How Made in Italy Inspired the Launch of The Impression Trade Shows
BY KENNETH RICHARD
Toward the end of 2016 the Italian Trade Commission was kind enough to extend an invitation to The Impression to Naples for the purpose of learning more about the local fashion industry and it’s value in the global fashion eco-system. Little did we know that the trip would lead us down an eye-opening path to the local challenges of an artisanal industrial complex and inspire an entire new section to our website that we are excited to launch today.
‘Made in Italy’ means something and if you ask a Naples native, ‘Made in Naples’ means even more. But in our era of globalization that meaning becomes more and more difficult to execute against as the pressures to scale are squeezing those at local levels.
E. Marinella operates one of the world’s most premium tie manufactures in the world outfitting U.S. Presidents to numerous actors portraying James Bond. Founded in 1914 the Naples shop where the company sells its famous neckties only measures some 20 square metres with an artisanal factory located on a 2nd floor nearby. It is a family business of high quality custom ties, focused on maintaining an integrity of production. But today it lives in a world that is forcing it to do battle daily. The battle of scale.
That scale has been brought on by lending institutions that ask the same of young and old businesses alike. To grow quickly and continuously. In an age where everything can be measured, with ‘Like’ buttons at every turn, every business is expected to scale. E. Marinella can battle that scale with brand equity built over generations coupled with a reputation for quality, but how can the cottage industry of artisanal craftsman survive and thrive today? How can ‘Made in Italy’ stay Made in Italy and remain valuable.
That answer is complex and has to do with issues as diverse as the expectations of lending, sales support, and respecting the value of time honed crafts and quality. But one thing is apparent, to stay focused, maintain the course and be true to the values of family businesses. After all those values are as much a part of the Italian culture as craftsmanship and great food.
As we peeled back the layers and walked the floor we recognized that focus often cumulates in a sales process that the ITC gave us the opportunity to ponder – ‘trade shows.’ Upon our return we thought long and hard about how we could help the eco-system that is a step to the left of the one we traditionally champion. While The Impression may be the largest home online to runway show coverage, we respect that not all houses should take to the catwalk. For them, the ‘trade show’ is their seasonal pinnacle, their place to showcase the brand to their clients, media, and the industry. Yet trade shows fall outside the realm of online media coverage with most sites offering little more than an over arching article dedicated to the trade show itself, leaving the artisanal houses who stay focused out in the cold.
After walking the floor of the Naples fair, we felt the need to help in our own small way, and think beyond a simple article. These artisans are businesses of merit and offer real value to our eco-system and deserve support. ‘Made in Italy’ means something and we wish to assure those who stay focused, followed their own path to their own right size, get equal billing as runway with a home for them. And while our section wasn’t ‘Made in Italy,’ it certainly was ‘Inspired from Italy’ so we invite all of you to embrace those of different scales and check out our ongoing coverage of Trade Shows. We also invite you to recognize and support the artisans of fashion who embrace fine cloth, craftsmanship, their employees and their partners. It takes a village, and in many cases, the entire village is involved in the production of these artisanal offerings. We encourage you to take a look as we here at The Impression are sure there are as many unique discoveries in trade show brands like those artisans of Naples, as there are on the global catwalks.
Our thanks to the Italian Trade Commission and ICE-Italian Trade Promotion Agency who inspired this new section to our site. While the ITC played no role in the development or funding of the initiative, we would never have considered it without their offer to learn more about the fashion system of Southern Italy.