REPORTAGE —Workwear, a European passport for small and big businesses


The workwear sector in Italy is developing continuously which certainly reflects the increase in the use of uniforms at work. Also smaller businesses are showing positive trends.

Work uniforms turn out to be indispensable for those who cultivate business relations with foreign companies. Treating workwear means engaging ironing machines with the capacity of processing 50 pieces per hour, and new solvents used in dry-cleaning


Italy, a constant two-speed country that cannot miss  any topic to discuss, workwear included. As a matter of fact, Italian countryside and suburbs often offer scenes of freshly washed wet garments and work uniforms hanging out of the windows. Exactly like it was a century ago, the professional workwear is still left for the users to be washed at home instead of having it treated at professional dry-cleaning laundries which is what actually happens abroad.
Yet, what we also discover is that Italy offers important art exhibitions just like the one at the Triennale di Milano museum in 2014 where forty excellent designers from all over the world presented workwear pieces according to their concepts. A “vegetable ice-cream maker” by Toshiyuki Kita, a Japanese designer or a “collector of seashells” by Nanni Strada and his genius, and thirty-eight more creations exhibited at the museum exalted the most classic, everyday look of workwear: overalls, white coats, aprons, uniforms and whatever else is worn at work.
Quite a contrast, indeed. However, it is destined to level soon if we consider the impressive business that could be born around workwear. Considering Italy again, take Klopman, one of the biggest companies of the sector based in Frosinone. It declared a 130-million euro turnover in 2016 mostly realized abroad. It referred to their production of 40 million meters of fabrics that year.
No doubt, the sector seems vital and profitable as long as one knows how to discover it using the right key.

Here are four different ideas on workwear: Corinna Mapelli, co-owner of Trevil, ironing machines: “As far as workwear goes, the competition between businesses is often subjected to tenders.
One of our clients has won one of the tenders and now, they are servicing national airlines of that country washing and ironing work uniforms. Laundries that are successful at these tenders are equipped with multiuse, flexible machines such as finishers for both dry and wet garments operated by a single operator”.
Luciano Miotto, the Managing Director of Imesa, industrial laundry machines: “Our country is still behind as far as workwear goes. Only large companies really perceive the need to adopt an image of staff wearing a clean uniform every day, the same for everyone.
If, however, the company is small, it seems that the use of uniforms depends on business relations: companies that usually deal with and meet foreign clients provide staff with uniforms. It is obviously better not to oblige anybody but rather motivate and encourage the use of workwear”.
Marco Niccolini, the Sales Director of Renzacci, laundry machines: “We periodically witness the growth of this sector in Italy. Fewer and fewer car mechanic uniforms end up hanging out of the window to dry while more and more of them are taken to the professional dry-cleaning laundries. Today, they apply new dry-cleaning resources, namely the natural solvents that can treat any type of soil, even the heavy grease stains typical of car mechanics’ uniforms”.
Walter Cividini, the Managing Director of Fimas, ironing machines: “The great news of workwear sector is represented by the new type of clients who consist of medium-small businesses. Today, they tend to manage the washing and ironing of their work uniforms by themselves. Ironing machines used by these companies include 50-70 pieces per hour finishers that until only a few years ago, would never be considered suitable for this sector”.
Considering the figures at stake, what seems to be important here are basically, the knowledge and good strategy without excluding it going upstream when necessary. According to the latest press release by Christeyns, a Belgian multinational producer of chemical products with one of its headquarters in Italy, their outstanding and extremely successful lines of eco-friendly detergents have produced excellent cleaning results by overturning the Siner circle rule.
According to the rule, if water and energy are reduced, the quantity of chemical products must be increased.

While actually, it is not necessary to increase the consumption of detergents when it is possible to use different types of detergents instead: washing at low temperatures, reducing water consumption and following the right guidelines for workwear cleaning, previously subjected to thorough research, will produce excellent cleaning results.
Also the recent press release by Macpi, a producer of ironing machines based in Palazzolo sull’Oglio confirms that workwear has become one of the most interesting and important topics for big industries, hotels hospitals and communities. These places differ one from another quite a lot, therefore it is necessary to acquire skills and knowledge in order to work with them. All these places are characterized by constant reduction in labour costs.

That is why, it is a winning strategy to design automatic finishers for uniforms and pants, such as Macpi’s four stations rotating finishing unit with the capacity of ironing thousands of garments with the intervention of a single operator: an ideal solution for health institutions. Moreover, the integration of the finishing line with transport systems allows for processing garments on hangers, which saves time even further. Another important viewpoint has been expressed by Pony, a producer of ironing machines based in Milan area in its recent press release. Pony underlines the primary importance of flexibility in workwear sector. Their ironing line of presses characterized by very good price/quality ratio, available with different shapes of the boards, is perfectly suitable for finishing any type of workwear: uniforms, white coats, trousers.
As far as work uniforms finishers go, Pony offers machines that allow for ironing all types of outerwear in general, including white coats, uniforms, aprons and shirts. The machines can be set for wet garments ironing (washed and centrifuged) or for hotel uniform jackets ironing.
Italy and workwear. Something is slowly changing. The future will reveal more. We will keep you updated.•

by Stefano Ferrio

Detergo Magazine January 2018