The evolution of a company is the result of a virtuous circle that relates various factors capable of generating value by promoting its development. If continuous investments in innovation, research, digitalization and sustainability play a central role, collaborations with partners with whom visions and projects are shared are also not secondary. “The growth of Tollegno 1900 in the last years – comments Lincoln Germanetti, CEO of the company – is also due to the network that we have managed to create with several companies in the supply chain, but also outside the sector, who speak our same language and have our own values. With these partners we have built a path that had positive repercussions for everyone, both in terms of experimentation and opening new opportunities.” Among the historical partners of Tollegno 1900 is Feel Blue – a manufacturing company from the Marche region with a creative soul led by Filippo Bracci – with which the ties have been further strengthened in the last two years: “The relationship with Tollegno 1900 – tells Bracci – started a long time ago, but lately the collaboration has intesified. The great communion of intentions and values has infact led us to team up more and more often, working in synergy”. A sharing that was expressed in various projects, such as the Cadeau commissioned by the management of Pitti Immagine to the two companies on Pitti Uomo 2019. “For that event, we created a stole with intarsia with the colors and logo of the 2019 Pitti Immagine session that was given to the distinguished guests of the show during the opening night. Tollegno 1900 Merino Wool and the creativity of Feel Blue perfectly harmonized, merging the respective know how in a single product”.
However, experience and expertise in the manufacturing sector are not the only aspects that the two companies have cultivated over the years and which, today, make them even more similar. In fact, there is also a common vision about sustainability….
Sustainability is our raison d’etre which is expressed in a long-term goal to which we work every day: to contribute to the transformation of the textile industry, currently one of the most polluting in the world, making it an increasingly environmentally friendly sector and, cascade, of society and people. For this reason, for us, the concept of sustainability does not only translate into “ecology”, but is expressed in many good practices that concern, among others, the enhancement of human resources and support for the community in which we operate.
In terms of partnership how is this green focus expressed?
For us, sustainability is not an individualistic but a collective project because it involves our suppliers, employees, who fully share the business vision, and customers who, being the first to believe in the importance of focusing on the protection of the environment and people often motivate us to get better and better results. We are deeply convinced that the only possible sustainability is that which extends to the entire supply chain.
The location chosen for the company is also consistent with these choices ….
For sure, the decision to position ourselves in a peripheral area at the foot of the Sibillini Mountains also responds to this philosophy. We could have settled in one of the large industrial districts of the Marche region, but we would have had to give up a series of factors and elements that have a non-secondary role for corporate welfare: a wonderful panorama proximity to nature, a strong sense of community. When our customers had the opportunity to discover the beauty of our land, they let themselves be conquered by what they have renamed the “Marcheterapia”. More and more often they are the ones who come directly to visit us because they argue that ideas flourish more easily here.
Spirit well-being is the prerequisite for the flow of creativity. From this absolute you started by putting on track a series of concrete actions such as, for example, the construction of a production system made up of ecological processes, designed to minimize environmental pollution. How do you try to achieve it?
With many little and big daily choices, that are the result of a happy combination among technology, research, and experimentation. I refer, for example to the installation of an additional purifier to further clean the wastewater from washing machines and to the use of Washing Balls for cold washing without additives, reusing the same water several times. In this way we can save up to 70% of water and 85% of energy and reduce pollution from chemical. Finally, we have implemented a chemical management protocol according to the standards of 4Sustainability, the Process Factory brand valid internationally. The “attentions” are also others such as the design of an ironing system for hats that allows us to save energy and time without compromising the result. Indeed, with good reason, I can conclude that the yield is even better.
The attitude to “recover” and “reuse” can also be read in other interventions ….
Exactly: not only we recover the steam lost during the ironing phase and we accumulate in a hot water tank that feeds the washing machines, but we also put the separation yarn back into circulation to use it a second time. Furthermore, through a specialized company, we recycle the waste material to produce new materials. I also like to remind you that we have joined the evolved ReVerso Supply Chain, founded by Green Line and Nuova Fratelli Boretti, to promote the adoption of the principles of the circular economy and, finally we have achieved the G.R.S. certification, Global Recycled Standard.
The certification factor is primary, as confirmed by the most recent one you have achieved.
Precisely because we pay great attention to the sustainability and traceability of the supply chain, we also believe in the need to certify our commitment in this direction. We have recently achieved three new certifications that apply to accessories made by us on behalf of customers who want to adhere to these standards. NATIVA, RWS, and GOTS.
If from the point of view of operations, Feel Blue is very eco-oriented, it is no less so in terms of company management and structuring. How do you act in practice
First of all, we only use LED lights in both offices and laboratories, so we have installed 50 kwatt solar panels that save us energy by reducing emission and in addition we use an energy management system to optimize the consumption. We have also installed and E-power station in our parking lot to encourage the use of electric cars between customers and suppliers.
Sustainability and innovation, is it a possible combination?
The progress of research always provides us with new models and technologies to make production processes increasingly sustainable. The challenge lies in seizing the opportunities offered by technological evolution and inserting them as effectively as possible into one’s workflow to respond to the most urgent problems, but also to act with a view to prevention. In this direction, data are very important for improving only by precisely knowing the environmental impact of our company we can raise our bar and be eco-performing. asticella ed essere eco-performanti.
In Feel Blue this has materialized in several steps….
We proceeded by acquiring progressive awareness to allow the company to make its own new methods and “sensitivity” in a soft but concrete way. First, we worked to develop a corporate culture of sustainability, then we intervened on the increasingly specialized training of our human resources. To reduce waste or emissions, an energy manager is not enough, but designers must also have the right skills and intuitions to change their way of working.
3D digital prototyping: since we have adopted this technology we are not only faster and more efficient in developing new collections for our customers, but we also save on raw materials, energy, water, and transports. A result that also require proactive behavior on the part of the company and its resources.
Has the pandemic also had an impact on investments in sustainability?
Surely the pandemic has made us more aware of the overproduction of goods in the textile sector which resulted in greater environmental pollution, excessive consumption of resources and an abnormal production of waste and scraps. But the complexity of the time we have lived and are still experiencing has also profoundly modified the customer demands that have changed. What is needed now is an on-demand supply chain that produces only what is needed, when needed, in a short time. This paradigm shift has promoted us to adopt new technologies and new production methods and to develop an end-to-end workflow, automated at almost every stage from prototype development to packaging.
Each revolution or change often involves difficulties. Did you have any?
Sure, many critical issues have emerged, in particular, the increasing difficulty in finding the raw material and the lengthening of procurement times, which do not allow for adequate planning of orders. Another significant problem is linked to the increase in the cost of energy which is decreasing margins: the prices agreed with the customers more than a year ago are no longer in line with the actual cost of labor and the company has less and less financial resources for new investments.
However, these factors of complexity have not stopped the growth and development of Feel Blue, which is working on the launch of its own brand: any previews
We love what we create and would like to show it to the whole world: the idea is to launch our brand in the coming months using mainly digital channels. What is it about? It will be a surprise.