Feeling of belonging, courage, trust in one another and more responsibility when collaborating. With this forma mentis, Italy’s fashion industry would be at the top. That’s what David Clementoni believes. He founded his startup, Clementoni (in picture), in 2015, and has throughout the years accumulated much experience. How? By taking on the role of system mediator between production needs of designers and foreign brands, and that of Italian craftsmen. More than 2,000 entities have been involved in Italian Artisan’s projects, which has won the European Startup Awards as best fashion startup in 2018, in addition so signing partnership agreements with Assopellettieri and Assocalzaturifici. Clementoni has also recently spoken in Paris at an OCSE convention on SMBs’ digital ecosystem. In this interview, he explains the success recipe of Italian Artisan.
What does the future hold for Italian fashion’s SMBs?
The evolution of the marketplace offers grand opportunities that Italian SMBs can take advantage of. The times, market and the needs of international clients have changed. This is a difficult time in which everything changes, and that’s why we must unite and share our success stories to stimulate positivism in different areas. Pessimism has a negative impact on creativity and teamwork within the clusters.
How can businesses prepare for it?
Companies have two aces up their sleeve: the flexibility of their production model and the strong legacy that characterizes family-owned businesses. But to do that, they must make a step forwards and discuss the methodology that has worked until now, but will no longer work soon. They need to increase trust in one another and be more open to collaborating (between themselves and with clients), because goals are better reached when united.
Do you get many requests to manufacture in Italy?
Yes. The market is constantly asking for more premium products and recognizes the large value of Italy’s production chain. The requests are various: emerging brands place limited orders (sometimes even uncertain), while more structured brands are looking to “re-shore” production.
Clients are also different now…
Some brands are born quietly and then explode thank to their use of digital channels. Embracing this new type of brand means adapting to different service levels that clients demand. Clients aren’t just asking for a product, but rather continuous support. They aren’t looking for a supplier, but for a partner.
Are Italian SMBs ready?
Italian companies aren’t easy to access, both digitally and for their character. International brands also have weak points. The mission of Italian Artisan is to accompany all throughout this change, facilitate collaboration between the parts to reach common goals: reciprocal satisfaction. Our job is to stimulate the exchange of business as well as experience.
What do foreign entities appreciate the most about Made-in-Italy?
Quality must be the irrefutable base of Made-in-Italy. Then there is the reactivity to demands and the constant update throughout the production phases. Development speed, process transparency and responsibility of the short chain: all make our products simply inimitable.
You also believe there should be a good work-life balance, right?
In my experience, the ecosystem of oneself has a fundamental role. For foreign clients travelling to Italy isn’t just a matter of business, but rather an all-around experience based on sightseeing, food and people. If people feel good, they tend to work better.
What’s Italian Artisan’s recipe for success?
When talking about technology, big data and AI, I believe the Italian system could benefit from utilizing Ai differently. In what way? Artisanal Intelligence has roots far away, and is based on human values passed on from generation to generation. Our Artisanal Intelligence can’t be measured with umbers, but is worth more than any data.
What are the fundamental values of Italian Artisan?
Humility: we must think less in the “I” terms and more the “we” terms. We can only win together. Courage: it’s never easy to welcome and confront change. Trust: in ourselves, our collaborators and the country, so that others may also get inspired. Responsibility: very day we don’t simply represent our company, but our district, our land, and the enlarged family we are. There is strength in Unity, so: Let’s rock the Made-in-Italy!