As textile competition from other countries hit the valleys in Northern Italy, concentrating most of the country’s highly-specialized haute-couture industry, thousands of families from the Alpine regions migrated into the industrial core of the Po Valley, what Italians call the Pianura Padana.
The Biellese Alps, a sub-range of the Pennine Alps between Piemonte and Aosta, shaped its prosperity around one textile manufacturer of global reach: Ermenegildo Zegna. The area, located one hour northeast of Turin, experimented with the growing competition of big-scale industrial offshoring.
Concerned about his future and that of his family, Andrea Trinchieri decided to stay and to double-down in high-quality local production, aware of the importance of accumulated know-how and craftsmanship to produce the best clothing out of the best quality garments like the alpaca wool he now produces in his family farm along with his wife, Nadia Foglia.
Andrea has even invented a wooden loom that blends precision with the need for a human artsy touch, something very difficult to replicate in places driving down prices by creating unsupervised economies of scale.
Years ago, Andrea Trinchieri bought a few alpacas to help mow his lawn, but soon he and his wife Nadia Foglia had installed spinning machines at home and were selling their yarn and knitwear as a full-time job.
They do it all – shearing, cleaning, carding, spinning, weaving, and even a bit of dying (with plants) – so the final product is “kilometer zero.”
Initially, it wasn’t easy to find equipment for their small batch farm; their first purchase was a carding machine from 1890. Over time, Andrea has built custom machine parts and even his computer-assisted wooden loom.