MILAN — Reda is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

For the occasion, the Biella-based mill has teamed with The Woolmark Co. to launch a photographic book, which will be presented during a gala event in Milan on Tuesday night, ahead of the first day of textile trade show Milano Unica, starting Wednesday. The seated dinner,  prepared by Michelin three-star chef Massimo Bottura, will take place at the prestigious Palazzo Clerici, where an interactive and multi-sensory exhibition will offer a view onto Reda’s world. The exhibition, which is open to the public until Friday, will also travel to stops in Berlin, London and New York.

“The goal was to create a path showing the various phases of the [textile] supply chain playing with some images,” said Reda chief executive officer Ercole Botto Poala. “We created a sensorial itinerary to experience two of the values at the base of our company — excellence and authenticity.”

The same philosophy is at the core of the anniversary’s “150” photo book, which, instead of focusing on the company’s heritage, sets focuses on Reda’s contemporary and dynamic approach.

“It’s a bit unusual, a contemporary and artistic photographic book,” Botto Poala said. “It’s a view on the fashion industry’s backstage in a new way.”

To reach the goal, the company teamed with the Magnum Photos agency to enroll five photographers, who are not directly involved in the fashion business, and offer a different take on the industry. These include Olivia Arthur, Paolo Pellegrin, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Mark Power and Alex Majoli.

Reda is one of the few textile companies to integrate the entire supply chain in its organization. The firm controls three farms in New Zealand and operates offices in Australia to directly purchase wool from the local market. In Italy, it co-owns spinning mill Pettinatura Lane di Romagnano Sesia, along with producing its own yarns and fabrics in the Valle Mosso’s headquarters.

Established in 1865 by Carlo Reda, the firm was acquired in 1919 by Albino and Francesco Botto Poala and is controlled by the fourth generation of the family. 

Although the company constantly evolved over the decades, Ercole Botto Poala highlighted two particular milestones in Reda’s history. The first is the shift from a sartorial to an industrial business model that took place starting in the Fifties, while the second is the huge changes in the last decade.

“With the 21st century, some areas, which were secondary in the past, became more and more important,” he said, mentioning, for example, logistics and distribution. “The time of execution is also extremely relevant now.”

In order to make its factory more flexible and functional, Reda made huge investments to mechanize those parts of the processes not requiring human intervention. In this way, workers had the chance to specialize on specific activities, including quality control.

In addition, the company focused on sustainability and is the only wool mill in the world to have received the Emas green certification.

“Companies should become sustainable not only moved by ethic reasons, but also because, reducing the environmental impact, they reduce energy costs and are more competitive.”

In keeping with its innovative approach, last year Reda also became the first textile company to launch e-commerce, available at reda1865.com.

Reda, which generates 85 percent of its business outside Italy, especially in Germany, China, Japan and the U.S., closed 2014 with revenues of 80 million euros, or $97.6 million, at average exchange. According to Botto Paola, the company expects to continue its growth this year and generate revenues of 86 million euros, or $97.5 million at current exchange. 

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