Interview with Mario Contu
Your company manufactures clothing linings that target men, women and children’s clothes. What steps do you take and what timetable do you have for launching a product?
“The company is comprised of 30 people, we have a factory, a loom, a warehouse and part ownership in a dyeing company which we share with other companies who work with linings. Everything we sell is manufactured by us. We work vertically starting from the thread, then moving on to weaving, dyeing and finishing. All in all the time scale is about 5 weeks”
Can artisans still remain competitive in a global market?
“Today the market is shrinking, especially the internal one because the foreign market is growing and offering more possibilities. Creativity is our competitiveness, you need to be open to the new and flexible and so we are very competitive.”
What is your current situation?
“The situation is a dramatic one, consumption is reducing, prices are increasing, the clients are having financial problems and the whole situation requires careful attention. It’s no longer like the past when you could plan long term, now you work piece by piece, sometimes week by week, if not day by day. We must work pro-actively, keeping in contact with the market by attending trade shows, being competitive on quality and price and stimulate the clothing market.”
Is your competition mainly from Asia?
“Yes, China is a thorn in our side, we work in the medium-high end of the sector but China’s fabric quality is lower in respect to ours, both in terms of the fibre and the quality of finish. We sell to clients who decide to buy our fabric to make their clothing. The problem is those who buy ready made clothing. Today everything has been de-localized, the people who work with cloth are hardly ever in European Union countries. More often than not they are in China, Bangladesh, India or North Africa. That is what has changed.”
Are there also sales problems with the luxury firms?
“Unfortunately, yes, the stylists may ask for innovative and imagination, but in the end they also have to be careful about prices.”
Considering the situation, do you believe that Made in Italy has a future?
“Made in Italy is a guarantee that there has been constant work on creativity and quality, unfortunately recently the concept has been become distorted. For those like us, it’s a guarantee of quality and passion and one hopes that it continues in the future. It needs to be defended by tooth and claw.”