A Journey Into the Sicilian Artisanal Production World


 

Sicily is usually associated with Ancient Greek temples and ruins, rich Baroque churches, blue seas, and fabulous food, last but not least Dolce & Gabbana, its most famous world ambassadors.

But Sicily is also a land rich with craftsmanship traditions, home to a host of highly specialized SMEs that are leaders in niche markets and segments.

In 2019 Sicilian exports reached 6,8 billion euros, the most productive sectors were food and artisanal products, together with technological and farmaceutical sectors. The first buyer of Sicilian products is France with  342 million euros, followed by Germany with 274 million euros, the United States with 182 million euros, and Hong Kong with 167 million euros, with an overall growth of 23,9% with respect to 2018.

We visited some of these realities in Torrenova, between Palermo and Messina, a nice coastal town close to the beautiful Capo D’Orlando, home to a luxury marina attended by wealthy sailors and yacht owners. Obviously we visited a fish processing factory, but we were amazed at finding there a fashion manufacturer as well! We would like to share with our readers what we found out.

Fish sourcing and production

Anchovies are often found in European dishes, notably Mediterranean cuisines. Anchovies are used as ingredients for sauces or as snack food for aperitives and finger food.

When you eat anchovies you hardly think of the process behind, and it was mesmerizing to see live the mastery of white-dressed women manually inserting anchovies in glass bottles without breaking the fish and, by the way, guessing perfectly the weight before filling them with olive oil.

Castrovinci is one of the few companies left in Italy, which still produces anchovies by using artisanal processes. The best anchovies come from the Adriatic sea, where Castrovinci sources them. Olive oil is indeed from Sicily!

Across the Castrovinci factory lies a very simple building that would not draw great attention from a bypasser. But that building is a very familiar destination for many managers of international luxury fashion brands. Sicily is in fact also home to many high-end dressmaking companies such as Manifatture Mediterraneo, which produces top-quality outerwear using the traditional double sartorial technique,  a completely handmade process whereby stitchings are invisible. As you can guess, it requires great mastery, and only a few companies are able to achieve such quality levels. Of course, it is forbidden to reveal the brands they work for, as the latter are very jealous about sharing their best suppliers’ details.

This is probably the only Italian technique that was never exported abroad, and thus does not have competition and remains one of the most high-quality pride and joys of the Italian tailoring industry.

Sicily has been a great discovery, showing strong potential for some of its products or brands to expand internationally, and thus close the gap with some of their competitors up in the North of the Country.

Texere Advisors will start approaching Sicilian SMEs and support them in their retail international expansion. This activity will be soon extended to other Southern regions, rich with brands that do not fully tap international markets.

 

If you are looking for strategic advice on how to expand your brand or products in Asia, reach out to us to info@texereadvisors.com for a complimentary consultation.