Its innovations has changed the way of producing puffer jackets and other technical fabric clothes: heat seals, ultrasonic seams, special glues, air pressures... And helped the brand to grow and develop the export market
Le sue innovazioni hanno cambiato la tecnica di produzione di piumini e altri capi urbani in tessuti sportivi: termosaldature, cuciture a ultrasuoni, colle speciali, pressioni... E hanno fatto crescere il marchio e le esportazioni
«What am I proud about? The upcoming innovations born out of the experiments in our laboratories and everything that I’ve brought onto the market with Herno, which our competitors copied. This includes light puffer jackets, starting from 180 grams; summer puffer jackets, an idea I had five years ago which was then taken up by everybody else; the Laminar line, tasteful and functional items of clothing with sportswear fabrics made from Gore-Tex –high-performance and breathable, designed to withstand rain, wind and extreme weather conditions. More than anything else, however, I’m proud of our technological innovations: seamless items of clothing using thermal heating and ultrasonic seaming. These are sophisticated processes that use special glue, pressure and temperature...».
Claudio Marenzi has a fair bit to be proud about – the 54-year-old President of Herno, a family business launched in 1948 in Lesa on the Piedmont side of Lago Maggiore following an idea from Claudio’s father Giuseppe. Since Claudio took the reins in 2007 –successively taking majority ownership away from his two brothers as well– Herno has grown remarkably quickly, demonstrating results that were unthinkable during the economic crisis. In 2007 turnover was € 7 million, of which only two million was sold under the Herno brand. In 2012 this had reached € 33 million, while in 2015 this was € 70 million of which 68 was under the Herno brand, with 60% of income coming from exports. Another double-figure growth is expected for 2016.
This success is credit to Claudio Marenzi’s courage and his decision to put the brand back at the centre of the strategy, returning to the company’s roots in waterproofs and cashmere coats when Herno had been among the first to open up in the Japanese market, launching a boutique in Osaka in 1971. Later in the 1990s, this expert knowledge was made available to the big names in fashion. Nevertheless, Marenzi then had the intuition to sense that Herno could stand on its own two feet. And the company has managed just this, banking on four E’s: the first letters of the words Erno (a river that runs close to the company’s Hq), excellence, ethics and environmental sustainability.
«Yes», Marenzi explains, «the Herno brand-name comes from the River Erno and it’s a sign of the bond both with the local territory and the water, an element which the company has in its dna and is reflected in our products.
«Also, I have a genuine passion for our mountains –Macugnaga in particular– and Lago Maggiore. I like to sail my boat on it and one of my sons is a champion water skier, while the other is an excellent mountain skier. I always keep a copy of La stanza del vescovo (The Bishop’s Room) by Piero Chiara in my briefcase, which has wonderful descriptions of the lake».
Then there are the other E’s. Excellence: thanks to research, Herno has tied the traditional production processes to cutting-edge fabric innovation that has never been applied to urban collections before. Ethics: Marenzi is as proud of his relationship with the company’s employees –155 in Lesa, plus those in the satellite activities, 650 in Sicily and 450 in Romania– as he is of the transparency with which Herno has openly declared that the nylon jackets are produced in Romania, which accounts for 30% of the company’s industry. Environmental sustainability: the headquarters in Lesa is very green-orientated and an investment in solar energy has made the building self-sufficient from an energy point of view.
Marenzi has cause to be happy about what he’s managed to achieve, especially considering the 14 brand shops already open and the rapid expansion in the U.S. market. Yet he still has an entrepreneurial regret of not being able to dedicate enough time to his passions of skiing and modern art.
«Since I became president of Sistema moda Italia, I haven’t been able to do them anymore. Investing time into the sector in which I have worked all of my life is somewhat of a duty. I believe every entrepreneur has to do it».