Herno, an Ode to Rain – Part I

Herno is hardly the most famous of Italian outerwear manufacturers. But according to many the best. After almost exclusively produced private label for some of the world’s top fashion houses, the company has now added the focus to concentrate on his own label. In a two-part article series has our site visited the small outer garment manufacturer in the foothills of the Italian Alps, in order to find out the secret behind the amazing cut.

Lesa is wonderfully situated on Lake Maggiore in north-western parts of the Piedmont. A region perhaps best known for its great wine tradition with renowned wines like Barolo and Barberesca, but also home to some of Italy’s largest industrial company with FIAT in the lead. At Lesa is a small community of just 2500 inhabitants where few if any unrelated to Herno which since 1948 has been the area’s pride. I stop an elderly lady to ask for directions. Obviously, she knows every Herno located; “Lesa Herno é”.

The name comes from the river Erno flowing out of the original factory, which has long supplied the factory and the now defunct weaving mill with water. The brand’s founder, Giuseppe Marenzi, started production of raincoats right here is no coincidence. Lake Maggiore create with the protection of the Alps, a generally mild climate with significant rainfall during the autumn and winter season, making the need for protective rainwear large.

The company’s first ten years of Giuseppe devoting to developing a raincoat that passed tougher weather without for that matter have to compromise with the garment style. The result was a model in cotton, treated with castor oil which gave the garment water repellent properties.

– Hernos development is very typical of many Italian family from that time. After the war there was great potential for development of new businesses and a number of entrepreneurs showed up with exciting new ideas. We expanded quite sharply nationally throughout the 50s to the 60s and 70s expand in Europe and later worldwide, with Japan as the main market, says Claudio Marenzi, president of the company and son of the founder Giuseppe Marenzi.

Today’s factory in Lesa, mainly for product development. Here are all the patterns for garments, testing of materials and quality control of all garments before they are sent out to retailers. Herno been working with two factories in Sicily, one of ullrockar and one for light cotton jackets, while large parts of the brand’s production of down jackets are made in Romania.

– It is important for us to have our production in Italy. But just down garments have actually Romania a unique experience and better production conditions. Here, a large part of Europe’s premier pig farming.

Why is it important to have the production in Italy?

– It is not that we in Italy are honored by God’s hand. I have visited many factories around the world who hold extreme high quality. But the quality of the production is a little like math. It can be a garment without emotion. As if from a robot. It makes Herno special is the dedication of the employees put behind each garment. If it committed a mistake discarded garment. The prudent and knowledge of handling different materials are here in Lesa. It may be small details, but that ultimately are central to the overall result.

When our site will visit the preparations in full swing for the fashion fair Pitti Uomo that takes place twice a year in Florence. Fashion Buyers and the press gathered to see the best of what menswear manufacturers have to offer. For brands that Herno fair is important to send a message of where the company is heading. When Claudio Marenzi took over the business for more than five years ago Herno made a U-turn. With two less successful decades behind the company changed its strategy to focus more on their core product.

-We had put too great a focus on producing private label for external brands. There was never an explicit strategy on our part, but in many cases it was pure chance that led to these partnerships. Jil Sander for example, chose us because they liked our expertise in producing garments with double face technology. We felt, however, that it was time to give our own brand all the focus. An important part of the change was also clean style and design terms. We asked ourselves what distinguished Herno and tried to find what was missing. Herno has always had a high status when it comes to quality and service. We wanted to keep it, but adding a more modern design and new materials, says Claudio Marenzi.

Tomorrow we publish the second part of the article about Herno that will focus on the craftsmanship behind Hernos garments.