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This year the Italian outerwear brand Herno celebrates 70 years as the unassuming powerhouse of made-in-Italy innovation. And last week during the menswear shows at Pitti Uomo, in Florence, Herno filled the vast Stazione Leopoldo with a collection of objects, artworks, prototypes, garments, even a race car—all of it set up as a kind of kaleidoscope of memories about the beginnings of the company in the booming post-war years around Italy’s Lake District.
The lake—that is, its water—is the touchstone of the company’s founding family, the Marenzis. Giuseppe Marenzi's first collection of raincoats launched the business, which eventually evolved into cashmere, and then, significantly, dressing some of Japan’s highest-profile citizens. (The brand is also marking 50 years in that country.)
Having spent summers in the factory since he was 15, Claudio Marenzi took control of the business in 2005 and put R&D into overdrive. Ultralight down, breathable waterproof fabrics, fully bonded seams, a range of sustainable manufacturing practices, and collaborations with brands ranging from Gore-Tex and Loro Piana to experimental label M140 are a few of the innovations that have come out the Lesa factory (laboratory might be more apt).
In homage to the manufacturing process, a section of the Leopoldo was set up with sewing machines, high-heat bonding contraptions, and precision steamers. And manning them were students from the local Polimoda fashion school. You could almost imagine the young Claudio Marenzi working among them. Later in the evening, he raised a glass to his 21-year-old son, Alessandro, with a wish for what the next 70 years would bring.