“In the beginning there was water. It carries the flow of life. It creates…”
This is how In Flumine est vita, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Herno, summarises the praise for the sublime element that animates the brand, water. Whether in the river or the lake, the rain or the fog, the snow or humidity, it is the muse that inspired the quintessential high-performance product with which it all began and it all continues: the raincoat.
It was from that 1948 cotton, treated with castor oil from planes abandoned by the war, that a young Giuseppe Marenzi and his wife Alessandra Diana sensed the possibility of setting up a business. And from the beginning, with the urgency and enthusiasm typical of that period of great ferment that was the post-war period in Italy, experimentation and innovation permeated Herno’s vocation.
The coexistence with the water of the lake and the river took shape and became functional first in jackets and then high-performance coats, well designed, crafted with superior workmanship as can only be found in Italy, and also useful to protect oneself against the cold and find shelter against the rain, the northern wind and the humidity of the lake region. That’s what water is for Herno: connection, love, passion, challenge, ingenuity. And success.
After the raincoats, in the mid-1950s there were also women’s garments, reversible, hand-woven cashmere coats. In 1968 Herno was already overseas in the east, in Japan, with boutiques in Osaka and then Tokyo. Then it made its way to the US in the early 1980s.
And the art of Herno’s production became so well-recognised and valued that in the 90s the emerging brands of those years – which later became famous – entrusted their production to the company.
And they were the most famous of the French and Italian brands. At Herno, quality and investment in the means of production have always been on the cutting edge, the signature of a company that in the 2000s returned to embrace the change in production processes with a know-how that was essentially unique and strongly Made in Italy. And it dusted off its brand, the one that bears the name of the river that flows under the company.
Claudio Marenzi, born in 1962, is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Herno SpA. A few years ago he celebrated the 70th anniversary of the family business, projecting it into an international dimension as early as 2005 when he decided to focus again on the Herno brand.
“It was far from easy to improve all this. In 1948 my father turned the rainy climate of the lake and the humidity of the water around us into an opportunity.”
His work was always rooted in the local region, maintaining creative and productive control and pursuing functionality beyond aesthetics. Today, Herno – after being “put away in a drawer” in the 1990s – is a well-known brand in the luxury world and is constantly growing, with an export share of 70% of the total turnover.
“A mostly successful period, certainly with its ups and downs, complicated family intrigues, fear and adrenaline when I decided to go it alone and focus on Herno, halting production of the more famous French brands.”
Always convinced of the need to establish a system and protect the value of the Italian supply chain, Claudio Marenzi served from 2013 to 2018 as president of Sistema Moda Italia and from 2017 as president of PITTI Immagine. At the same time, in March 2017 he was appointed president of Confindustria Moda, a confederation created in the same year and strongly sought by Marenzi in order to strengthen, promote and protect the excellence of the Italian fashion, textile and accessories sector in global markets. In 2016 he was awarded the honour of Cavaliere del Lavoro by the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, and in 2018 he received the “Quality Italy” Leonardo Award.
“I never said to myself there in the company that this is my life, I just want to do this…. But then I got carried away by the river water”