A blurred background and serious face welcome me to my call with Gianfranco, but that seriousness soon dissolves into a more relaxed, ready to laugh demeanor.
Gianfranco can be considered an exception among MakersValley’s manufacturers: he doesn't own a factory per se, but rather a traditional Italian business in charge of connecting designers, suppliers, and factories. For years, he's worked hard to produce almost anything, from kids clothes to women's lines, to menswear, although his favorite product category is sportswear.
“Last spring, we produced some really interesting sweaters and sweatpants. They were different, in the way they fit and in the materials chosen by our customer. My dream is to produce something like Off-White or Pangaia, but I won't turn away a good design for a woman’s dress.”
Gianfranco and His Journey with MakersValley
“I think I might have been one of the first to join the manufacturers team. I’ll be honest: I had been contacted by other similar companies before and I had always turned them down. I didn't really believe in what they were doing. Then I got a chance to talk with [MakersValley’s] account manager. I decided to try [the service] and realized that they weren't just making promises. It really works.”
One of the things that Gianfranco has the most pride in is his company, which just like MakersValley, gives anyone a chance to work on a new design idea and see it come to life.
“When I started in 2012, I had an idea for a new company, but my biggest obstacle was mainly one [thing]: finding a manufacturer or a supplier that would give me a chance to produce my products without having to store half of it in a storage room. At the time, I didn't find anyone willing to lower their minimum production order quantity and help me.”
Gianfranco ended up creating the model of a company that he would have needed when he was younger and at the beginning of his career. As soon as he got a chance, he got in contact with multiple small Italian factories that each had decades of work and history, but that lacked the capacity to produce hundreds and hundreds of pieces at a time.
“This [type of garment factory] has the technical knowledge to produce high quality products, but they struggle to keep up with the technological side, so I try to help them stay in the loop.”When asked if there is something that MakersValley helped him do, Gianfranco said that, for him, it was a stimulus to re-think and organize his company.
“Eco-friendly materials are a trend right now. We often get asked to supply fabrics that respect our environment, and when no one asks, I’m usually the one that offers it as an option. The supplier I use to source the more ecological products always has the material he gets asked for and doesn't request a minimum purchase (minimo d’acquisto), which means that I don't have to over-produce nor worry about being left with more items than I need.”
He says that his company is not rigid when it comes to production: they try to adapt to their customers' requests without setting an outrageous minimum for an order.
Gianfranco’s Tip to Up-and-Coming Designers
“The first thing I always say is that they need to think about who is going to buy that product. You can’t produce an item without thinking of the final customer. Fast fashion is already focused on producing things that work for everyone, and that can't be beaten.”
Gianfranco is absolutely right. As we’ve seen lately in the fashion industry, the upstart designers who stand to make the biggest name for themselves now have the best chance when they create with a unique product, situation, or customer in mind.