TOLLEGNO, Italy — How do you count experience? Some people count it in years, others in deeds.
Italian textile company Tollegno 1900 combined both engaging in a significant work of conservation, classification and enhancement of its heritage and expertise in the production of yarns and fabrics.
In particular, since 2010, the firm has implemented a dedicated area in his factory in Tollegno, in the Italian region of Piedmont, to create an archive of all the textiles, documents, packing lists and studies on yarns produced and collected from the end of the 19th century to nowadays.
As a further step, this year the company has decided to transpose the more than 1.24 miles of documentations archived so far digitally.
“In the future, we would like to put our archive online and make it accessible to everybody,” said Lincoln Germanetti, chief executive officer of Tollegno Holding, comprising Tollegno 1900 SpA and Manifattura di Valduggia SpA, which controls the Ragno, Julipet and Riabella brands.
The executive didn’t reveal when this long-term project could be effective, but the company has already digitalized half of its current archive, including 800 books of samples and technical charts and more than 10,000 wool samples.
This operation enables the firm to easily track every item, create data crossroads and provide each piece of documentation with related images or links to further information.
Meanwhile, the physical pieces are showcased in a range of big folders, all labeled with the respective year and season information, lined up in different rooms inside a wing of the company’s headquarters.
An in-depth analysis of customers’ preferences over the years and past trends emerge from the classification of all the documents, as a higher request for woolen fabrics and a more abundant use of colored or patterned textiles compared to now.
It was also possible to track back wide collections of patterned fabrics developed for a range of fashion labels, including Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Dior and Laura Biagiotti. In particular, an Emanuel Ungaro dress crafted with the company’s textile is showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
With the first fabric sample dating back to 1886, the archive’s encyclopedic asset is drawing an increasing number of designers to the Tollegno 1900 factory. “We’re open upon reservation and generally designers come here to make style researches on specific decades,” said Germanetti, whose goal is to make also the physical archive accessible to public once completed.
In keeping with the conservation and divulgation of the company’s expertise, a publication series named “Quaderni dell’Archivio Storico della Filatura e Tessitura di Tollegno — Tollegno 1900,” or “Journal of the Historical Archives of Tollegno’s Spinning and Weaving — Tollegno 1900,” was launched last year.
The brief journals describe and illustrate the pieces found during the archival process. After the first issue, which served more as an introduction, the following two focused on specific areas and eras, as female fashion from the Fifties to the Seventies.
Before focusing on the recovery of documents, Tollegno 1900 underwent to a work of industrial recovery. This year, the company celebrated the 20th anniversary of the creation of its expansive weaving mill.
The weaving processes, which used to be housed in a historic building dated 1862, were moved to the current 322,917-square-foot plant to largely increase the firm’s production capacity. Engaging 220 people and innovative machinery, the plant mainly manufactures woolen cloths, for a total of 15.7 million feet of fabric produced per year.
On the other hand, the 1862 historic structure was restored and now serves as venue for events. Germanetti said his main long-term will is to continue restoring the plant’s historic areas to put them at disposal of the 350 employees in Tollegno and the neighboring community, creating a sort of village.
Tollegno Holding counts 600 employees in Italy and 400 abroad. The company has a yarn-making division in Poland for more than 20 years and offices in New York, Hong Kong and Osaka. In addition, through its Manifattura di Valduggia arm, the group directly operates 40 Ragno retail doors in Italy and a Julipet flagship in Milan, plus the labels’ respective e-commerce channels.
In 2016, Tollegno Holding’s consolidated turnover was 156 million euros, up 4 percent compared to 2015. According to Germanetti, this year the company will register a double-digit growth of about 10 percent.