Reda: research and innovation for the fabrics of the future
di Marta Casadei
3' di lettura
«Nowadays, with the broad choice of products out there and the possibility of buying items how and when we want, it is essential to offer something different, particularly when it comes to luxury products». Ercole Botto Poala is ceo of the Reda Group, a Biella-based wool mill founded in 1865 by Carlo Reda with 170 years of history behind it. Today the group operates at global level in the high-end wool fabric sector and produces three lines: Reda 1865, Reda Active and Reda Flexo. It has also developed Rewoolution, a division dedicated to producing an activewear clothing range in wool. One of Reda’s unique features is its vertical management of the entire production process, from the rearing of livestock in New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania to finishing in the factory in Valle Mosso, in the Italian province of Biella. «Having the entire supply chain here in Italy is the trump card of Made in Italy manufacturing – continues Botto Poala, ceo of the Reda Group –. Among other things, it enables us to maintain a high level of quality in our products and to work on reducing the environmental impact of our production processes».
The green challenge
The Italian textile industry was one of the first to embrace the green revolution. The revolution is a complex one: «The topic of sustainability is becoming increasingly prominent. We began to take an interest in our environmental impact in 2004, but explaining the limitations and costs of sustainable production to the public is not easy». The Reda Group was awarded Emas certification fifteen years ago and in 2019 took another step forward by signing the Environmental Product Declaration (Edp), a protocol that guarantees a high level of transparency throughout a product’s life cycle. During the analysis, which considered the data for 2017, it emerged that the company - the entire supply chain, including the factories - purified 194,000 cubic metres of water, recycling 20% of its water use each year, and produced 620 MWh of energy thanks to the use of renewable sources deriving from solar energy. «I believe that Italian fashion - which at system level has already made great inroads in this direction with the commitment of Camera Moda and SMI - needs to focus even more closely on green products», continues Botto Poala.
Focus on performance
The Group, which employs 550 people and concluded 2018 with revenues up by 6.5% to €115 million, 80% of which generated outside Italy, making it one of the leading Italian textiles businesses in terms of turnover, has done just that, focusing on its products and creating the Reda Flexa range of smart stretch fabrics that use the environmentally-friendly Roica V550 polymer. «In this line of fabrics we have combined our focus on the environment with high-level elastic performance – comments Botto Poala –. After all, we sell performance: let’s not forget that Reda Active fabrics were used by Nasa to create their flameproof spacesuits». According to Botto Poala, «the current trend is performance, and this is why we’re investing in research and development and trying to experiment as much as possible».
Ventures into the clothing sector
Rewoolution is part of this focus on experimentation, a collection of menswear and womenswear crafted from ethically sourced wool processed with an advanced, internally developed spinning system. Always looking forwards, Reda is constantly adding to this line: «I’m convinced that in the next five to ten years fashion will change radically and we need to be ready. There are many ways we can prepare ourselves, such as engaging with young people who have a new perspective and are inspired».
This desire to work closely with young people and see the company’s fabrics used by emerging brands is deep-rooted at Reda. For example, in January 2018 it made its début at Pitti Immagine Uomo with the Athlovers project: the active fabrics produced by the wool mill were reinterpreted by five emerging international brands (42.54, Aeance, Dyne, Gr1ps and Isaora) and used to create athleisure garments for the 2018/19 autumn-winter season: «Genuine collections, not simply aesthetic operations», comments the ceo.
There have been an increasing number of occasions where Reda has “visibly” cooperated with brands to create special collections. Recently, for example, it launched a capsule collection designed in collaboration with Tuscan men’s clothing brand Camo exclusively for Barney’s department store in Japan. «It’s selling really well – says Botto Poala — and we’re very pleased with the project, which reflects our desire to sell unique, content-rich products».