Project Srl, an Italian denim and sportswear apparel manufacturer, wants to offer more sustainable and trackable services and products. Matteo Lavezzo, founder and owner of Project, explains these latest challenges.
What is your company’s expertise? Please tell us about Project's history...
We are now based in Zanè but will soon move to San Tomio di Malo and will open a new and much bigger company as we want further verticalize our operations and bring more productive steps in-house. At present we manage the whole production cycle here in Veneto, though we are managing R&D, prototype and sample making internally and in our warehouse. When we will move to our new headquarter cutting, washing and ironing will also be made in-house…
Our company was founded in 1999, employs 35 people and produces 85,000 pieces per year. By February 2021 we will grow to hire a total of 50 people and hope to further increase our productivity and the quality level of what we offer. At present we produce mostly jeans and sportswear for top designer brands, but also apparel for designers’ main collections. Denim counts for 60% of our products and 40% cotton pieces for both men and women.
Essentially we are focused on three main new projects. As most of the brands we work for are interested in offering always more eco-friendly products, we have created our first project–Ghost Makers, meant to create a connection between brands and laboratories. By now part of this platform are the manufacturers who work for us that have been certifed by Intertek, a longtime auditing company that checks products’ quality and safety along with processes and systems.
This newly launched platform can be visible by everyone externally, while brands can enter it and–once we have checked they are truly operating in the market–they get access to a database listing all of our suppliers that have received a conformity certification. This way each brand can contact single companies directly. They can be cutters, garment makers, laundries, finishers and others. So far this platform hosts our 25 suppliers only, all checked and certified as meeting all the parameters requested by luxury Italian brands.
We have also started another initiative recently. As our value chain of suppliers is entirely traceable, we created a section within our website where our clients can check the state of their orders, which manufacturer or laboratory is working at them, how many pieces they are producing and similar information through a hidden link. All these data are written in blockchain and can no longer be modified. This way we are transparent and give our clients the possibility to trace their orders and products.
Only more recently we have started developing the analysis of the product’s lifecycle (LCA) to analyze their whole life–from raw materials at the beginning, upcycling in its central life stage and the final impact when it will have to be thrown away. In our new offices we will do the cutting part and for this we will also use all regenerated fabrics. Focusing on LCA will be our target for 2022.
When did you start taking this new direction?
Since 2018 we have been pursuing the aim to be as much transparent and act sustainably in terms of products but also toward workers and people of the whole territory. For this we are very dynamic and organize art exhibitions, contribute education projects for schools and universities but we also wanted to give a strong message to our supply chain supporting them according to our vision of the market and especially supporting the made in Italy haute de gamme. This is not easy as in the jeanswear market as many tend to focus on volumes and low quality, but our path is different.
When we will move to the new offices we will become a Benefit Corporation.
[Editor’s note: Since 2016, Italy became the first European state and the second country in the world creating a new legal status for companies, called “Società Benefit” (Benefit Corporation), a company that combines the goal of profit with the purpose of creating a positive impact for society and the environment and which operates in a transparent, responsible and sustainable way.]
According to the principles of this type of company we aim to become 100% sustainable and operate so that every step or operation we take is done in a sustainable optics. All costs and gains are calculated according to our company’s impact on the environment, bettering our workers’ life, but also how money is reinvested within the company.
In the future we would also like to become a B Corp, a US certification whose process is even stronger to be achieved. We will try to become a B Corp later probably starting from 2022.