MUSEOWEB dell'economia varesina

Erica Industria Tessile

The first stage

The origins of the company Erica industria tessile go back to the Cotonificio di Busto Arsizio, which in turn was the textile company founded by Ottorino Maderna in the early years of the twentieth century. Ottorino Maderna was born in 1877 to a wealthy family of Castano Primo, and began his industrial career at early age. In 1901, together with Cesare della Porta and Giovanni Brugora, he co-founded the limited partnership company "Ottorino Maderna e C.", in which he held the position of general partner: the company replaced the previous company "Giovanni Cappia e C." based in Casorezzo, which was founded in 1897 and operated a textile factory located in the same municipality.

In 1905, the company became a sole proprietorship under the name of "Ottorino Maderna". That same year Rinaldo Maderna was born, the only boy of the three children Ottorino fathered with his first wife, Candida Pelitti, who died prematurely in 1918. His second wife, Fulvia Tosi, belonged to one of the wealthiest families in Busto Arsizio, and bore him four children, only one of which was a boy: Pietro, born in 1921.

In 1924, Ottorino Maderna was appointed mayor of Busto Arsizio, a position that he held up until 1930, while in 1926 he also became managing director of the industrial textile complex Dell'Acqua-Castiglioni Lissoni in Legnano. The factory in Casorezzo, which boasted modern automatic and jacquard looms capable of creating complex designs, employed 200 individuals and regularly produced fabrics for third parties, particularly the Dell'Acqua-Lissoni-Castiglioni cotton mill. In 1931 the company "Ottorino Maderna" went out of business and the production facility was leased to the aforementioned cotton mill.

From the Cotonificio di Busto Arsizio to the Cotonificio Erica

The limited company "Cotonificio Busto Arsizio" was founded in 1936, with registered offices in Milan and operational headquarters in Busto Arsizio, at no. 6 Viale Duca d'Aosta. The members of the company's board of directors, which was presided over by Ottorino himself, included his own son, Rinaldo, as well as various other industrialists and technicians, some of whom had come from the Dell'Acqua-Lissoni-Castiglioni cotton mill. The company initially recorded an uncertain trend, mainly due to difficulties in obtaining thread for production. Ottorino Maderna died in 1941, shortly after having sold the factory in Casorezzo to the company "Vincenzo Zucchi e Grippa."

It was then that Rinaldo Maderna became managing director of Cotonificio di Busto Arsizio. In 1942, his brother Pietro joined the company's board of directors but, after being called to arms at the outbreak of the Second World War, placed his commitment to the company on hold. He returned to the company after the war, however, foregoing the opportunity to earn a degree in economics and business. It was during these years that the cotton mill began exporting its products abroad.

Pietro Maderna married Ernestina Castellanza, the daughter of Ettore Castellanza who, together with his brother Carlo, was the proprietor of the general partnership "Castellanza & Borri", which was founded in 1925 for the manufacture and sale of packaging materials and fabrics, with administrative offices and warehouses in Busto Arsizio, at no. 14 Via Massimo d'Azeglio, and production facilities initially located in Tradate. Pietro and Ernestina had two children: Fulvia, born in 1952, and Ettore, born in 1954, the same year in which their grandmother Fulvia Tosi, a member of the Cotonificio di Busto Arsizio board of directors, passed away. During those years, the Cotton Mill was undergoing a severe crisis. In fact, a liquidation procedure was initiated and later discontinued, and the partners ultimately decided to sell the company in 1959.

In 1955, Pietro Maderna joined the company Castellanza & Borri, which was owned by his father-in-law. The company "Cotonificio Erica spa" was founded that same year, headed by Rinaldo Maderna, with his brother Pietro sitting on the board of directors. The new company maintained its offices and warehouses at no. 6 Viale Duca d'Aosta, and even maintained its registered offices in Milan, while the production facility, which employed more than 50 individuals, was moved from Busto Arsizio to Crugnola di Mornago.


Changes and development

Cotonificio Erica continued the work that it had inherited from the Cotonificio di Busto Arsizio, which mainly involved the production and sale of home textiles, and gradually expanded into the clothing industry. The customers were mainly wholesalers, who purchased the fabrics and resold them to other textile companies. In 1958 the offices, warehouses and fabric preparation department were transferred to Via Ferrer. Pietro's third son, Emilio Maderna, was born that same year. The company's increased productivity led to an increase in share capital, from 1.3 million lire to 10 million lire. In 1960, Rinaldo's son, Ottorino Maderna (born in 1931), was appointed to the company's board of directors, together with his cousin Rinaldo Pelitti. Pietro's fourth child, Anna Maderna, was born in 1969.

While the company's propensity for exporting increased during the 1960s, the transformation of Cotonificio Erica into a true modern fashion enterprise only began in 1975, when Fulvia Maderna, who was already collaborating with her uncle Rinaldo, joined the company's board of directors. Having been engaged with the company, Fulvia abandoned her university studies in literature and began introducing various innovations, such as the creation of women's and children's clothing collections, based on the printing of fancy designs and the use of more prized weaving and spinning techniques. This change was also reflected in the types of customers that the company catered to, with an increasing number of garment manufacturers gradually replacing the fabric wholesalers.

Upon Ettore Castellanza's death in 1974, Pietro Maderna was appointed President of Castellanza & Borri, which had already been transformed into a joint stock company in 1967. At the time, Giulio Grassi, the husband of one of Carlo Castellanza's daughters, was sitting on the board of directors. In 1977, Pietro Maderna went to the United States to undergo critical heart surgery, and the uncertainty of the outcome led him to make his son Ettore a partner in view of a possible succession. As had previously happened with his father, the company's pressing needs at the time did not allow Ettore to complete his degree in business and economics.

Having completed his university studies in law, Emilio Maderna began working for Cotonificio Erica at the end of the 1970s, alongside his sister, Fulvia. Due to his strong communication skills, he dedicated himself to the sales department, for which he frequently travelled abroad. An internal split later took place in the management of the cotton mill: the company's production branch (spinning and weaving) in Crugnola di Mornago was given to the now aging Rinaldo Maderna, who created his own company, ITC srl, while Pietro Maderna took over she sales branch, with Fulvia becoming sole director of Cotonificio Erica in 1980. At the beginning of 1981, Pietro Maderna and his son Ettore left Castellanza & Borri to return to Cotonificio Erica. The family was thus reunited in the management of the company that Ottorino Maderna had established nearly 80 years earlier.


A modern fashion enterprise

In the early 1980s, Cotonificio Erica, whose share capital had been increased from 350 to 600 million lire, was headed by a new board of directors, made up of Pietro Maderna, as president, and his children Fulvia, Ettore and Emilio. In 1984 the sales office, warehouse and fabric processing department were transferred to Legnano, thus resulting in the closure of the facility on Via Ferrer in Busto Arsizio. In 1985, the company's share capital was further increased to a billion lire, and the name was changed to "Erica - Industria tessile spa", although three years later it was transformed into a limited company.

Making use of increasingly modern technologies for textile printing, by this time the company no longer resembled a typical cotton mill and was becoming increasingly involved in the silk tradition of the Como area, concentrating upon this highly-prized product and collaborating with internationally renowned designers. The industrial production of ready-to-wear clothing was flanked by that of garments tailored to fit the individual customers. Via a network of agents and salesmen, the company was able to develop a strong commercial presence throughout Italy as well as abroad. The company had also amassed a veritable fashion archive over the years, made up of books (mostly in French) containing hundreds of thousands of models and drawings, dating as far back as the late 1700s, which today represents a valuable source of knowledge and consultation for the company's clientele. The style Office was established in the early 1990s, employing creative young people from fashion schools throughout Italy and abroad, and soon became the heart of the company, where the collections to be presented at the various industry trade fairs were brought to life. The creations even began to include fashion accessories, mainly in order to meet specific customer demands.

Fulvia Maderna, who had married a businessman in the fashion and design sector, eventually decided to go to work for her husband's company, thus leaving the management of her own family's business to her father, Pietro Maderna, and brothers, Ettore and Emilio. Ettore was placed in charge of the company's production and management aspects, while Emilio handled the sales and design aspects. The quality control laboratory for the inputs and outputs of the production processes was established in 1995. Rinaldo Maderna passed away in 1996.

In 2001, Erica industria tessile was transformed back into a joint stock company. In recent years, the company has established numerous partnerships with large industrial groups operating in the mid-range ready-to-wear clothing sector, for whom the company supplies exceptionally well-made printed fabrics, as well as reliable services. By this time 50% of the company's turnover came from exports, not only to the markets of developed nations, such as the United States and Japan, but also to new and emerging markets.

In 2004, the Erica company purchased and renovated the old headquarters of Castellanza & Borri, at no. 14 Via Massimo D'Azeglio, and the entire company was moved to the new facility. With the restoration project, the brothers Ettore and Emilio Maderna realized their dream of reviving the historic building that had once belonged to their grandfather. The new facility houses the company's administrative offices, style Office, quality control laboratory and sample collection, as well as its extremely important model archive. The production activities remain firmly rooted in the Lombardy region thanks to strategic partnerships with the some of the area's most well-known companies. In the meantime, the company's fourth generation has made its entry, with the arrival of Luca (born in 1982) in the IT and administrative offices, and Pietro (born in 1984) in the Style office, both of whom are sons of Ettore Maderna.

In 2009, feeling the effects of the severe economic crisis, which led to a significant decrease in consumption, the Erica company found itself traversing a difficult period, which it overcame by intensifying its relationships with its regular customers. Pietro Maderna passed away in 2011. Emilio, who has one young daughter, currently has a dream: to dedicate a portion of the company's premises to training and employing creative young people from Italy and abroad.