COO Journal / Biella, Exploring Italian Lana Stocks

I have always wanted to visit Biella. A picturesque Italian city just a stone’s throw from Milan (by train mind you), Biella is at the epicentre of wool production – or “Lana” as it’s called in Italian.

There are daily trains from Milan to Biella, and the journey will have you staring out at the beautiful scenery rather than being glued to a computer or phone screen. During a recent trip to Italy, I finally had my chance to make the trek.

As I always do, I routinely publish Facebook updates even when I’m traveling – as I never know who may be local in my extensive network and actually reach out to me. And the moment I did that, no sooner had Stefania contacted me, someone I met on LinkedIn first who later became a Facebook friend as well.

She offered to be my guide in Biella and I graciously accepted. Nothing like taking trips with locals as they know the ins and outs of a city, and also know the people intimately. She took me to one of the largest stockists of Italian fabrics, carrying brands like Vitale Barberis and several others. I personally prefer first-hand, fresh goods and product from mills rather than short-lengths or stock-lots. However, stocks are always interesting to see and for those who are price conscious, clearance stock-lots were available at jaw-dropping prices.

Stefania picked two particular suppliers in Biella which she insisted I should visit. The first had mostly unbranded and non-selvedge fabrics, all made in Italy. Average cost was around 10 – 15 Euros per meter, but they had minimums of 60 meter rolls. However, they were very generous about cutting fabric samples for their clients, at a small premium fee though.

The second supplier Stefania took me to was actually exactly what I was looking for. A nice gentleman by the name of Nicola, and also the owner, showed me his vast VBC stock – one of the largest in world.

Some very interesting patterns and ranges were available with branded fabric selvedge. Here, you are not forced to buy full rolls but you can request for cuttings to be shipped to you later. In my opinion, only buyers who can make immediate purchasing decisions should visit these types of suppliers because their stock moves in and out so fast you can easily miss out if you even just wait a single day.

For my first trip to Biella, I was very happy with how much I had seen and done. Not to mention, how lucky I was to have Stefania escort me around and introduce me to some very unique new suppliers. I will certainly keep them in mind if I’m looking to get something quick, while still having a unique variety to pick from.