Following the Prato workshop on March 14th, Besnik Mehmeti of the Prato team took Maria Adele Cipolla and myself to visit the Beste factory in Cantagallo, about a half hour north of Prato. We were shown around by Tommaso Gori, the Production Manager. We were really impressed by the care and quality in every detail of the company's operations.
Beste's main area of business is dyeing and treating fabrics, plus in addition they have a line of clothing that has recently been launched: Monobi. Very interesting mix of technical textiles and welding processes for outdoor wear. But our visit was mainly in the textiles factory.
The first thing that strikes the eye is the beauty of the factory itself, with the commitment to transparency shown in the architecture: extensive glass facades, impressive wooden beams, and the offices and meeting rooms suspended over the factory floor.
Also of note were the technologies used for the dyeing processes, with a centralised bank of pigments automatically feeding production with a very high level of precision for colour accuracy.
Many areas for possible collaboration in TCBL emerged. For instance, in launching the Monobi line they had to ultimately go to Romania to find people who really know how to sew. That could open possibilities for collaboration with the TCBL Place Labs to develop the methods for building the necessary skills at the proper pace and with the proper mix of practical experience.
Another area of possible collaboration was related to certification processes. Here there appeared to be a general interest in collaborative certification for environmental and social issues, as well as the potential for development of specific technical tests for, for example, more rigorous or scientific tests for waterproof fabrics.