After three days at the mill, days of filling our notebooks and cameras, it was finally time for Team Tuckerman to make our way back to Milan for the flight home. Our hosts, ever generous, had taken the time to walk us through every myriad production detail, and, much as we would have liked to stay, were mindful of all of the work that they had to do.
Before we left, we had an interesting conversation with the company’s CEO about the challenge of producing quality fabrics in a world increasingly dominated by rapid production and a fetish for economies of scale.
“You have to focus on quality, above all else”, he told us on the final morning of our visit. “If you do that, over time it seeps into everything you do. The finished product, sure, but also the people who work for you. The standards that you set. Everything.”
It was a fitting send off for what had been an instructive and fascinating trip. As we made our way back to Milan (powered by excellent and ubiquitous espresso) we discussed what we had learned.
For many, Italy is a land of spectacular food, of extraordinary history and romance. It was, of course, these things for us as well. But above all, it was a place with a singular sense of design, one that extended not just to the products they made but back through the process which was responsible for creating them in the first place.
In Italy, it was hard to fathom Ferrari without the fanatical adherence to performance, of Barolo wine without the lovingly tended vineyards of the Langhe, or of the gorgeous fabrics we had examined, without the diligence of those manning the dye house and the looms.
In a peculiar way, we felt a little like kindred spirits with our Italian counterparts, despite the myriad cultural differences. In our pursuit of creating clothing that is more thoughtfully and sustainably produced — the raison detre of Tuckerman & Co - we had arrived at a similar appreciation of process. It might not be easy, but it was certainly inseparable from the product itself.
On the long flight home, we agreed almost without speaking: this may have been our first visit to our Italian partners, but we knew that it wouldn’t be the last.