To start with giving a factory perspective of where innovations are coming from we spoke to Teresa Saibene, External Relations Manager at Ratti Factory in order to get a closer look inside of one of the world’s leading fabric manufacturers today. Ratti works with international luxury brands such as Stella McCartney and Gucci, just to name a couple.
Printed, plain, yarn-dyed and jacquard fabrics of high quality are the characteristics of Ratti’s productions as a leading Italian manufacturer for international luxury and pret-à-porter brands. Founded by Antonio Ratti in 1945, quality is their trademark, but hardly the only thing they are known for. The company believes in the fundamental integration of quality with careful attention and care to the environment and a commitment to social responsibility, core values first addressed by Mr. Ratti himself decades ago before regulations and laws for such things had yet to come into existence. Following in this legacy, the company decided to improve its efforts for sustainability and social responsibility in 2011. Huge effort and investments have been poured into innovative technologies to save energy, water, and gas as well as to reduce toxic chemical waste and CO2 emissions. “In one year, it saved the same amount of water contained in 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools, ” said Teresa Saibene.
Furthermore, a lot was also done in terms of communication to employees to increase employee engagement and awareness. A panel was organized for all employees, with each week focused on themes like water, energy, and waste. As a result, employees have been encouraged to limit consumption, share cars or use electric vehicles to commute to work. In addition, thanks to municipality involvement, a bus stop was added outside the factory to encourage the use of public transportation. Finally, plastic bottles used in the canteen have been replaced with jugs and all unconsumed food is given to an association which helps needy people. Moreover, re-use and recycling are also key issues for the factory. For better waste disposal, Ratti introduced a separate collection for plastic, paper, and glass for the purposes of recycling. The factory is currently still trying to find a viable solution to dispose of fabric waste currently. That’s because recycling fibers is a very complex process that requires new technologies and changes in design and combination of the raw materials that go into the fabrics, to begin with. Still, instead of just throwing the fabrics away, Ratti has found a few alternative solutions such as providing them to fashion schools and academies for their projects, donating the remainder to some non-profit organizations. Finally, one last goal to achieve is to reduce the amount of chemicals used during dyeing, printing and finishing processes even further. In order to get a brighter color, for instance, more chemicals are needed, so the Ratti Company faces a dilemma. As they focus on reducing the use of chemicals, the company’s creative team may not see eye to eye with the company’s sustainability team. As their own distributor, Ratti tries to mediate and give suggestions, working together with their customer base and their sustainability team. This way, thanks to the constant efforts of Ratti, and the mediation of confrontation by Ratti, a compromise between creativity and sustainability could be found, though, it still will take much time and effort to solve all such dilemmas.
Cover photo: Ratti