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FARE INSIEME - Ep. 200 - Della Rovere, the fairy-tale of the provincial knitwear company that has grown to become global

«We can go from a design to a woven fabric in a matter only a few minutes»



An entrepreneurial story born in the second postwar period in the Comacchio valleys between Ferrara and Ravenna. This is how Della Rovere was born, now boasting a €12 million turnover with 60% of the production destined to leading international luxury production chains. For FARE INSIEME, Giampaolo Colletti tells the story of Gian Luigi Zaina, partner and Sole Administrator of Della Rovere

by Giampaolo Colletti

Photocredit: Giacomo Maestri e Francesca Aufiero

There are stories that rhyme with comeback. Stories that build while others destroy. Stories that get stronger over time. Stories that join threads and create marvellous things. There it is, the story we are about to tell combines all these things. And maybe even more. Everything started with a passion for knitwear and the will to build up relations and wealth in a territory deeply affected by the Second World War. We find ourselves in Longastrino, a town of a little under two thousand inhabitants between Argenta and Alfonsine, in the provinces of Ferrara - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and Ravenna respectively. We find ourselves in the Comacchio valleys. A border land reclaimed from the water, a conquered land, as the name reveals. Longastrino comes in fact from ‘lungo le strine’, i.e. along the strine, those strips of land that emerged from the valley or the dòs, as the locals still call them. That is to say those places where the first settlements were located. Everything started in this poor area forcibly reclaimed from the sea in 1963. A long battle undertaken with the sea to reclaim strips of land that could be revived. This economy is linked with the peripheral areas, which managed to achieve success also thanks to simple crafts as well as reclaimed land from the sea.

Company profile
. Do business and create a community, as we often say. This is precisely an example of this, As everything started with two young newly-weds who led a small provincial workshop on to develop, taking it to a level where it could compete on a global scale. A workshop that expanded to assume a leading position in the Italian fashion world. Just like any other good story, let us start with the protagonists: Giordano Piovaccari, a tailor with great ambition: just think that he had been wanting to set up his own business since the age of fifteen. Paola Bersanni, a tireless door-to-door knitter. After all, while tailoring is now linked with the Luxury sector, it used to be a necessity in those days. That is how Della Rovere was born, currently boasting a turnover of €12 million with an average annual increase of 15% over the past three years, 70 direct employees and 200 workers in related industries. Nowadays, 60% of the production is destined to leading luxury production chains. It is a brand that looks ahead. Far ahead. Over 70% of the turnover comes from exports. Tradition and innovation - two closely-linked words. “Technologies change, as does the competition fields, which range from various international markets to different sales channels, styles and colours. But the strong technical skill and dedication to high-quality, fine yarns and artisanal workmanship have remained the values that need to be conveyed with patience and strong dedication,” says Gian Luigi Zaina, partner and Sole Administrator of Della Rovere. From the beginnings to the important steps, made possible thanks to teamwork. After a beginning made up of hand-crafted hard work, the first big leap came in 1977. This excellent Italian knitwear factory combined its experience with the international fame of the Les Copains group in a relationship that would last 24 years. 1980 marked the beginning of the collaboration with Gianni Versace, which would bring the company to the high fashion catwalks ever since his first collection. The Longastrino factory would be the one to produce the knitwear of his first fashion line for over 20 years. In the meantime, the techniques improved and the yarns used were to be chosen among the most prestigious and exclusive in the world. The quality tailoring of the products and innovation become the cornerstones of the company culture. A new entrepreneurial push then came in 2007 with the arrival of Zaina and the start of the Industry 4.0 journey.

A unique proposition.
This is how you collaborate with leading global brands and retailers. “The distinctive elements of our products include the use of prestigious materials, the most difficult to work with, high-quality craftsmanship, the history of the best Italian knitwear and elegant yet contemporary design. The relationships with our clients are based on trust, customised attention and the will to listen to and meet their needs in a prompt and effective manner. They are closer relationships than we had in the past, as collecting orders and delivering products is no longer enough. We need to share information and quickly adapt to change,” says Zaina. Nowadays the company manages an industrial machine fleet that spans from Veneto to Umbria featuring over 200 pieces of equipment. The first facility managed remotely was also set up. “The machines we use are increasingly connected and data is shared with the entire network. Today we can go from a design to a woven fabric in a matter only a few minutes,” says Zaina. The great challenge is to bring craftsmanship to an industrial system capable of maintaining the historic values of Italian-made products, i.e. flexibility, specialization and result-based motivation enhancing it with integration, speed, training and responsibility when it comes to the final results.  Artisans can no longer keep up alone without making investments and training in order to compete on the global market. We are integrating AI in our remotely-managed facility more and more. We are working on algorithms to monitor and improve the production processes, introducing artisanal experience into the servers,” explains Zaina. People and technologies, a winning combination for cutting-edge organizations.

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