Byline: Alessandra Ilari

PRATO, Italy — What does it take to inspire a new fabric collection?
If you’re Raffaello Giorgetti, textile designer and owner of the new mill Giorgetti Tessile, it’s the sun that fuels the fire.
“Undoubtedly, it makes a big difference if I design a collection on a bright and sunny day as opposed to a gray and rainy one,” said Giorgetti, who started the mill with his daughter, Rosella, and son, Cesare, in January.
And the fabrics in Giorgetti’s debut collection for spring ’98 reflect that bright and sunny outlook with breezy, summery looks, such as delicately embroidered viscose, crisp linen blends and silky cotton jacquards.
Although their business is new, the Giorgettis are by no means neophytes in the textile world. Raffaello and Rosella cut their teeth at Linea Tessile Italiana, a mill in which Raffaello was a partner.
“Dad worked at Linea Tessile Italiana for more than 20 years,” said Rosella, 36, commercial manager. “The time had come to move on — to create something of our own.”
Her brother Cesare, 30, works side by side with their father, researching and creating new fabrics.
“Our philosophy is to make easy-care fabrics that are rich and textured: embroideries, jacquards and puckered effects. We focus on fresh and soft hands, but never on gaudy designs or colors,” said Raffaello.
La famiglia is both excited and nervous about breaking out on their own. “It’s a challenge, but we’re extremely happy about this new experience,” said Rosella. “It’s fascinating and draining at the same time.”
Once the decision was made to start their own mill, the Giorgettis rolled up their sleeves and in less than two months made their debut with the spring/summer 1998 collection at the Prato Expo and Ideacomo trade fairs in Italy last March. The 400-sample collection was well received.
“We already have 80 clients, most of whom are in Italy and the Far East, and we expect to produce 800,000 meters of fabric within the next two years,” said Raffaello. “In the fall, we would like to go to Premiere Vision.”
The winter collections, however, will account for a smaller share of Fratelli Giorgetti’s production. The emphasis is on the summer looks, which will account for 70 percent of Giorgetti Tessile’s output.
“Dad has always preferred the summer collections. He thinks they’re more exciting to design,” said Rosella. “Being based in Prato, a region famous for its production of carded wools and where most mill names start with Lanificio [wool maker], we’ve always gone against the mainstream.”
“I was a pioneer,” quipped Raffaello. “Many years ago, when I started focusing on the summer collections, I found lots of resistance, but I won with persistence.”
One summer staple Raffaello can’t live without is linen. “It’s my favorite. I love the way it looks in movies, where English lords based in India during the colonization sported impeccable linen suits. Obviously, for everyday use, we must come up with blends and finishes that make it less prone to wrinkling,” he said.
In fact, making linen more practical absorbs a lot of Raffaello’s time and energy. “Today, to avoid creases, linen is rarely used on its own, but blended with natural and man-made fibers,” he said. “Research is fundamental because linen has great texture and surface movement, which can be exploited with funky dyes, finishes and weights.”
The result is linen and cotton checks, an airy linen and cotton mesh, and linen and cotton blends that can be hand-washed and are easy to iron. Prices average about $18 per meter.
Sheer looks are also key. The most prominent are tie-dyed mesh viscoses with embroidered branches and leaf motifs. “The current fashion moment, full of sheer and gender-bender looks, is extremely favorable for our product,” said Rosella.
Current priorities at the mill are the collections and keeping clients happy. “We’re trying very hard to accommodate all our clients, modifying the collection to their tastes when requested, producing fine-quality textiles and respecting delivery deadlines,” said Rosella.
“We’re a young company, so we’re still finalizing our marketing and distribution strategies,” she said. “For sure, we want to tackle the U.S. market because it’s stimulating and trendy, but if you don’t face it aggressively, you lose it immediately.”