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The early days with Roberto Collina

For about eleven years ago I was on the way to Emilia Romagna, a beautiful district in Italy, to meet Roberto Collina and his old authentic factory where qualitative and refined knittwear is made for a long time. The parents of Roberto established this company in the late fifties and built bussiness by its superior quality knitwear.

I travelled along with David, a very good friend of mine who has just started as an agent for a few European, mostly Italian, brands. David was very keen to approach Roberto Collina to do business and to arrange the distribution for Roberto’s family business in the Benelux. For me, in addition to socializing, good food, wine and fun, the reason for this trip was my curiosity for the wonderful world of knitting and the way those sweaters, hats, polo’s and other knitwear comes around time after time. After all I was selling Roberto Collina for at least five years.       

We were kindly surprised when Roberto himself came by to pick us up at the Bologna airport. We had never met. So first we shook hands and afterwards he told us to get in his Fiat. David in the back and my place was next to Roberto in the front of his car. It was a bumpy ride to remember. We drove through the mountains over the narrow, tortuous two-lane roads and it wasn’t even possible to look through the bends to see what was coming. In those places it seems that nobody knows what maximum speed is. So, Roberto didn’t know it as well and I think he thought he was Giancarlo Fisichella for a while. He really drove like a maniac but for Roberto it seems to be business as usual.

This ride really felt so unpleasant that I didn’t want anything else but getting out of this car. And when I looked in the back, I saw David was getting really sick as well. After a few, from our side quiet minutes, Roberto understood what was going on. He chuckled a slowed down a little: we were safe.

As unpleasant this ride was, as wonderful was our visit to the Roberto Collina knitting factory. It was an unforgettable experience for me and David as well. Via the link below, it’s possible to read a touching report by Okke van Amerongen (only in Dutch).

Okke is a good friend of the c r i s store and had the opportunity to visit the factories as well. The way he describes his journey is on point and I couldn’t describe it in a better way than he does.