REPORTAGE — Made in Italy ironing, number one in the world Inspired by artists and poets of the fifteenth century


Talking with the field’s experts, it turns out that finishers, presses and boards produced by this sector have their roots also in the humanistic mindset inherited from the late Middle Ages. The results achieved derive from the artisan approach to work and industrial production where the global business is founded on a unique between technology and beauty

Tensioning finishers like sculptures by Luca Della Robbia. Vacuuming ironing boards like drawings by Leon Battista Alberti in his Libri d’Architettura (Architecture Books). Yes, because the Made in Italy ironing, an uncontested number one in the world of laundries and apparel business, is of a “humanistic” kind. It is the late fruit of the philosophical and artistic Humanism that, since the Middle Ages, has illuminated Petrarca’s sonnets and the Madonnas painted by Masaccio. Not by chance, an illuminating point of view comes from Mirandola, a small town in Emilia where in 1463 a famous philosopher and  of the Humanism, Pico was born. Mirandola is also the hometown of one of the Made in Italy ironing businesses, Barbanti. “It is the updated vision of Humanism through which we can explain the invaluable connection between design and technology that characterizes Italian ironing sector – confirms Angela Barbanti, the Sales Manager. – The implications have never been separated since they relate to humans. I am thinking about today’s machines that are produced by our sector and aim at the environmental sustainability thanks to the energy saving solutions they have been provided with, and about the machines operators’ health in terms of posture and movements. They can benefit from the recent discoveries in nicmachines’ ergonomics”.
As we can deduce from the introduction, the global leadership of a reportage on Italian ironing businesses. We come across the second historical vision, a more recent one, highlighted by Pony, a company based near Milan, with its CEO, Paolo Fumagalli.
“Made in Italy has deep historical roots – Pony’s communication reads. – It was born in the end of the ’50s when small artisan shops started to create the first ironing techniques applyinG steam generators, irons and vacuuming boards. The first Made in Italy machines soon crossed the borders and got exported in Europe and in the world”. “Since the very beginning, – Pony’s communication goes on – what has helped to win the global competition is the combination of artisan quality and advanced technology that favor automation of productive processes in laundries”.
“Let’s look at the photos of Italian fashion history one by one over the last sixty, say seventy years – suggests Corinna Mapelli, the co- owner of Trevil, a brand headquartered in Milan area. – Well, the Made in Italy ironing has always provided the right solution for each of those models.Also now, during the years dominated by more and more developed automation processes, the tensioning machines, ironing boards and presses produced in Italy express the outstanding ability of quick and accurate understanding of what the market needs and requests are”. “In order to realize this, – Corinna Mapelli explains – it is enough to observe the global spread of shirt-finishers designed for a garment whose ironing has been requested more than of other garments over the last years. Actually, Italy made history of textile manufacture including the excellence of couture fashion market niche. Ironing was born and developed at the service of the history”.
“Only the industry that is on the same wavelength with the constant market transformations can launch an American model of shirt finishers, developed for clients who wash clothes at home and send them to the dry-cleaner’s to be ironed” we learn from a communication by Rotondi based in Settimo Milanese. It continues: “The inventions are born in order to supply businesses with machines that iron thousands of pieces with double pressing combining the quality of blowing and that of a press in order to obtain both shiny and pressed effect on the garment”. According to Rotondi, “the sector has grown in Italy by meeting needs for any machine in real time, from steam ironing for knitwear to ironing boards for silk. Today, the touch screen has replaced manual work, yet always in the sign of quality”.

“A keystone is the combination of design and reliability”. This is how Walter Cividini, the CEO of Fimas based in Vigevano (Pavia) approaches the subject. Again, a reference to aesthetics and the Italian culture of Beauty is linked to one of the main values of business. Cividini continues: “We produce finishers, presses and ironing tables in an industrial way but with a great artisan-wise care as far as the finishing of details is concerned. Once it is established that we are talking about highly reliable machines, they are then placed in laundries that are more and more similar to boutiques in terms of design, the type of offers and the attention to niche markets: shops that will appreciate a finisher also because of its design and colour. It does not matter whether it is positioned inside or outside the lab. In Italy, we make the machines better than the others aiming at excellent technology that needs to compensate for the
lack of the professionality of operators”.

Daniele Battistella, the owner of Battistella from Rossano Veneto, clarifies how this top-ranking of Italian ironing keeps its position. He points out another crucial quality, namely, timing. “Today, having the edge over others is at the service of clients – Battistella explains – who demand quick service in real time as far as delivery and spare parts go. On the other hand, the pace of the industry, where we are talking about thousands of garments ironed per day, is faster and faster and it does not leave any room for a gap. Not by chance, in a company like ours, the weight, functions and logistics of the warehouse acquire extreme importance and become the beating engine of
the business”.
Another interesting statement comes from the outside of thesector, A13, a leading supplier of laundry and ironing accessories
based in Milan. “The Italian ironing sector – Giuseppe Conti, the President of A13 confirms – continues to grow supported by an infinite, creative energy and by the unusual ability to adopt to the market. We can see it by having a look at our catalogue. There are about fifteen thousand articles in it and a great percentage of them are ironing accessories. As far as the ironing industry goes, the requests for padding have been increasing significantly also due to the growth in the number of Italian machines in use”.
Finally, we report on the views expressed by Naomoto Europa based in Castegnato near Brescia. “As producers of technical solutions for the artisan/industrial ironing sector on a global scale, – the company’s communication reads – we can say that advanced technology is constantly at the service of the best Made in Italy production, e.g. the ironing tables that can be customized as much as one needs while maintaining the cold ironing system. It does not include any heating elements that could prevent from a quick interchangeability”. “Another, latest frontier conquered by the Made in Italy – Naomoto’s communication continues – is a low temperature iron. This very traditional ironing tool has been updated and improved in the sign of energy saving as never before”.


by Stefano Ferrio




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