Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation
Home > USA > Focus On
Castelgoffredo, the hosiery town
Roma - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - At least a third of the stockings and pantyhose European women wear daily is produced here, in a small town in the province of Mantua, Castelgoffredo, which is the Italian and international capital of stockings, and in the surrounding towns. This industrial district has concentrated on a productive niche that during 80 years of history has managed to impose itself on the global market thanks to constant improvement in technological innovation and image. The network of 280 firms, with a total of 6,600 employees, is distributed among 18 towns with a population of about 60,000 people. In this small area, at least one person in ten works in the world of hosiery, for a total production amounting to 1 billion 300 million pairs of stockings and pantyhose every year. This corresponds to earnings of 1.2 billion euros with more than half of it in international markets (especially Germany, Poland, France, the United States, Spain and the United Kingdom).
The horizontal production integration level is very high. In fact the sector includes an enormous group of firms specializing in the production of fibers and finishing, all within the same area. It is a very unusual example in the panorama of Italian industrial districts, with perfect horizontal integration between very small, small and large companies. On the one hand there are leading brands of international renown (Golden Lady, Sanpellegrino, Filodoro, Levante) and on the other hand, a tight network of laboratories, often family-owned, devoted to specific phases of the productive cycle.
The Italian hosiery industry was born in the 1920s following the introduction of the so-called artificial silk, rayon. During those years, the Noemi hosiery firm was founded in Castelgoffredo and around it there developed a system of sub-suppliers. During the 1930s, nylon arrived, the first synthetic fiber widely used and of low cost created by the American firm Dupont. It possessed exceptional technical qualities. The advertising of the period declared that it was "as strong as steel and as delicate as a spider's web". This revolution made hosiery, up to now made only of silk, and therefore costly, or of rayon, which was delicate and not easily worked, an article of clothing available to an increasing number of consumers.
After the long pause of World War II, hosiery production got its first significant impulse during the 1950s and 1960s as a result of great changes in the fashions and manner of dressing of Italian and European women. The birth of pantyhose was made possible by the arrival of a new synthetic fiber with even better performance than nylon, lycra. The destiny of the industrial district of Castelgoffredo became closely linked to Italian fashions and their success throughout the world. Today, after the peak years of the 1970s, the hazy 1980s and the ultra-comfortable 1990s, Italian pantyhose have conquered the world as a result of a knowledgeable mixture of style, innovation and quality.
The firms of Castelgoffredo have attained this quality not only as a result of experience but also of a system of guarantees offered by the Hosiery Services Center. Through its advanced technology laboratory, the firms in the district are able to operate under high quality conditions. The testing laboratory in the Center has been accredited by SINAI (Italian National System of Certification) since 1992. In this way, the firms can be sure their products, including exports, come up to the expectations since SINAI has stipulated mutual recognition agreements with certification organisms in numerous other countries that allow it to extend the validity of its test reports to 25 countries.
Area: province of Mantua
Production specialization: hosiery
Number of towns: 18
Area: 354 square kilometers
Population: 61.000 inhabitants
Number of firms: 280
Total billing: 1.2 billion euros
Exports billed: 55%