Rivolta Carmignani is a company with a long tradition which, since being founded in 1867, has expertly combined high quality, exclusive style and Made in Italy in the textile supply of luxury hotels and restaurants. Recently, the partnership with COEX, the only technology that guarantees the well-being and safety of 100% fireproof naturalness, has opened up new development opportunities for the company. Interview with Andrea Cagna, General Manager and Stefano Mazzaron Quality and Product Dvp of Rivolta Carmignani.

1. Rivolta Carmignani is now in its fifth generation, it is a story of research, industriousness and innovation, guided by the motto of its founder “Fede nel lavoro!” (belief in the work). What are the most significant developments for the textile industry today? What are the most decisive aspects: research on materials? Innovation in the production processes? Other?

Decisive factors for textiles are still Made in Italy today, creativity, product customisation and research and development, for example in relation to materials. Rivolta Carmignani has always considered it important to combine a careful selection of quality natural raw materials with the identification of innovative production and finishing technologies, the coexistence of tradition and innovation. Research and development are crucial for both the product and the process. Today, this gives us an all-Italian production that makes the difference in the market.

2. Rivolta Carmignani is a company that also has a major presence on the international market (63 countries). Nowadays, how much of a guarantee of quality is Made in Italy?

For Rivolta Carmignani, Made in Italy is, first and foremost, 100% control of the production chain, in all its phases. The company has actually chosen to maintain the entire production cycle, from the initial yarns through to the shipment of the product to the customer. This sets us apart and is made possible through the search for a close synergy and a strong integration of specific know-how with our qualified network of external suppliers, who we consider to be more like partners.

3. Textiles and eco-sustainability. Textile production, and textiles in general, can have a significant impact on the environment. Rivolta Carmignani monitors the whole production chain - from design to weaving, from finishing to packaging and shipping - and has been involved in these matters for some time, even receiving major accolades. Can you tell us about the company's most significant choices in this area?

Sustainability, safety and respect for the environment are key values within the company, as can specifically be seen in targeted investments in photovoltaics, LED lighting, industry 4.0 projects and the development of production processes that monitor waste and which provide for reuse of water and energy. But what has always made the difference is the selection of external partners on the basis of greater compatibility with our eco-sustainable approach. For example, in the choice of COEX, it has counted not only on the fact that it is a technology made of 100% vegetable fibres, but also its 100% sustainable philosophy: like for COEX, innovation means eco-sustainability to us too!

4. What are the natural materials that you are focusing on?

For a great number of years we have believed in specific qualities, such as cotton from Egypt (Giza 86, Giza 92) and linen from Flanders, so European linen. Thanks to Rivolta Carmignani, now these made of COEX products are also available and therefore 100% fireproof! The meeting with COEX arose from the research for a fireproof technology that preserves the naturalness and extremely high quality of these raw materials. Nowadays, thanks to the partnership with COEX we can guarantee a 100% fireproof material, without in any way altering the value or modifying the 100% naturalness of these materials.

5. How did the partnership with COEX come about? Nowadays, how much is the search for wellness and naturalness combined with the demand for a 100% fireproof safety guarantee?

The partnership with COEX arose from the desire to meet the specific need for a 100% fireproof supply for our high-end customers, following the entry into force of new European legislation (as from 1 January 2018) for the trains sector, where now fireproof bedding is mandatory. Immediately, our aim was to offer a product that is 100% fireproof, and also 100% natural, not only to ensure safety, but also the comfort and well-being that only natural fibres can provide. Now more than ever, a great deal of attention is paid to all elements and factors that ensure optimal sleep and rest.

6. What prospects will the partnership with COEX open up for Rivolta Carmignani?

For us, the real COEX revolution was the discovery that made of COEX is never-ending, that is, it keeps all the characteristics of comfort, typical of natural fibres, and the 100% fireproof properties over time, even after repeated industrial washes. In fact, the collaboration with COEX did not just lead to the production of a 100% cotton and 100% fireproof sheet, it also led to extensive maintenance tests. This aspect is also important for the variety of the areas of application where COEX can prove decidedly strategic: for example in hospitals, where, for some time, the need has been expressed to provide 100% cotton 100% fireproof linen, which, until now, has not been possible. COEX technology is also suitably for use in the entire transport sector and also for market niches such as the supply of luxury yachts; a sector we have been taking care of for a long time and that requires 100% fireproof without renouncing the “luxury” and quality, in terms of comfort and well-being, of fabrics made from natural fibre. Today this combination is possible, but only with COEX.

7. Can you tell us more about the partnership with COEX in terms of integrating know-how?

As we said, the partnership was created to develop a 100% natural and 100% fireproof linen product, including for bedding, for high-end customers in the train sector. The new European legislation that I mentioned has imposed the obligation for fireproof bedding on the railway sector (referring to the sheets): given the extremely positive result of the fabric made for bedding, we also extended the supply to table and bathroom linen. It was a case in which the compelling innovation exceeded the needs expressed to date by the legislation. Furthermore, we also worked together with COEX with maintenance and washing tests, so that the 100% resistance of the fireproof quality is verified over time, even after repeat industrial washes. We consider this experience 100% virtuous because more companies, us, COEX and the specialised industrial laundries have each contributed to the expertise inherent to verifying the maintenance of the optimal qualities throughout the life cycle, from production to maintenance. Also, actively collaborating with COEX in many aspects has assisted us in the selection of fabrics that, due to the type of yarn, allowed the best fireproof performance over time. The next goal for Rivolta Carmignani is to use COEX not just in fabric, or in the piece or garment, but also in the yarn.

weaving area at Rivolta Carmignani factory

8. With COEX it is nature itself that raises the barriers against the flames, because phosphorus, nitrogen and sulphur, by modifying the cellulose molecules present in the fibres and in the vegetable compounds, make the materials stably safer and biodegradable. In which sectors have you noticed the most interest in 100% fireproof and 100% natural safety?

In addition to the transport and hospitals sectors mentioned above, certainly today, despite the production of sophisticated technofibres, the hotel sector prefers the use of natural and vegetable fibres, for example for bedding, as a synonym of true luxury and comfort and for the uniqueness in terms of well-being and health that they offer. Of course, although it is not legally binding on the hotel industry, being able to offer this sector a technical item and a 100% fireproof guarantee, thanks to COEX, is a major opportunity. Therefore, Rivolta Carmignani’s goal is, more generally, to promote a real “new product category”, a 100% natural and fireproof linen, to all the potentially relevant areas.

9. One of the certifications that Rivolta Carmignani holds - in addition to the Club Masters of Linen which guarantees the 100% European origin of the linen fibre and the Standard STeP by OEKO-TEX (Sustainable Textile Production) - the Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX which ensures the human compatibility of items that do not release dangerous substances for humans. COEX is hypoallergenic and biodegradable, ensuring 100% fireproof protection with the complete absence of toxic fumes. How much of a difference do you think a 100% natural and 100% fireproof hypoallergenic and biodegradable bed linen (bed, bath and table) can make today in the contract sector in the Italian and foreign markets today?

It should certainly be underlined that sheets or linens and all fabrics made of cotton or linen made of COEX, as well as preserving the 100% fireproof resistance over time, should not be disposed of as “special waste”, like synthetic fireproof products, at the end of their life. We are pleased to emphasise that made of COEX is a “circular product”, at the end of its biodegradable life. The certification obtained by Rivolta Carmignani is Standard 100 by level 2 OEKO-TEX, and it is also an hypoallergenic product. From the standpoint of market demand, we do not perceive any differences between Italy and abroad, probably because our customers belong to the medium-high and high range, which is quite discerning. The difference is perhaps in the size of the clientele because abroad we tend to work with international groups and hotel chains, while in Italy we work on projects for individual hotels, as the market is more fragmented. We believe that the project we are now working on, namely a made of COEX yarn, can also contribute to an ever increasing cost-effectiveness of the process and, as such, to a market expansion. 

So we believe that the “circularity of COEX” will trigger many other virtuous “cycles” as with Rivolta Carmignani!

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