In the summer of 2017, Rita attended ReStartAlp, a course organised by Fondazione Edoardo Garrone, in co-operation with Fondazione Cariplo: “It was on that occasion that we began to imagine the development of a local supply chain that would use raw materials such as wool, hemp and linen, which we believe have great potential”.
“100% Italian supply chains – adds Alessandro – would be able to capitalise on the great manual skills that are available extensively across the north-east of Italy, where high-craftsmanship, small-scale manufacturing is highly widespread”.
“After the course, I would have liked to take a placement in Umbria with Brunello Cucinelli, but it was not possible” continues Rita, who ended up choosing Valle d’Aosta, where women cooperative Les Tisserands, in Valgrisenche, in the Gran Paradiso National Park, works successfully to preserve the traditional techniques used to make the local fabric known as Drap (100% wool) and transform it into modern clothing items for both men and women.
In autumn 2017, in the midst of the e-commerce boom, Rita and Alessandro opened their shop. “We chose to begin from the last link – retail – in an effort to help reshaping the entire supply chain. We regard our physical shop as an educational tool, designed to help customers rethink their purchasing habits, starting with their ability to try on and feel each item” says Rita. “The clientele is mixed, consisting largely of women, ranging from twenty to sixty years of age – adds Alessandro – They are still used to touching a fabric, to recognise its quality”. And how does it feel to stroke a nettle blouse?
Except for El Bec technical socks and hats, ethiQ does not sell men’s wear or accessories. “The problem is that men do not buy and this makes it difficult for a store like ours to purchase male clothing – says Alessandro – Our winter season suppliers include a manufacturer that uses regenerated cashmere as its raw material. In this case, we also stock men’s sweaters, although, to tell the truth, it is always women that purchase them, as a present”, he concludes.
ethiQ is a stone’s throw away from the Belluno Cathedral, in a 16th-century building, at Via Mezzaterra 12. A craftsmen street, with many premises that are now unrented. “Ours had also remained closed for six years – explains Rita. While I was attending the course, however, a coworking space opened, hosting architects, graphics and designers”.