As marketing and R&D manager for Tonello, Alice Tonello is steering the family-run company into a new era of sustainable innovation.
Summers spent treating and scratching jeans at her family’s factory paid off for Alice Tonello, head of marketing and R&D for Tonello, the Italian garment finishing technologies company. It was during these early days when she cultivated the creative and innovative knowledge that’s required to power the firm’s industry-changing sustainable machines.
This year at ITMA, she displayed the firm’s prowess in both areas. Tonello’s All-in-One-System—a combination of the company’s proprietary sustainable technologies EcoFree 2, NoStone, Core and Up—was recognized as a finalist for the ITMA Sustainable Innovation Awards. And the firm tapped into the emotional side of denim through “Denim High Emotions,” a collaboration with artists Ian Berry and Juan Manual Gomez. Together, they created an immersive multi-sensory experience to showcase creativity in denim.
Why are you drawn to the business of denim?
When my uncle, Osvaldo Tonello, built the first washing machine in 1975 he would never have imagined that it would be the beginning of a long story. The RC 60-120 was born out of a far-sighted and successful idea that came at the right time and in the right place. These are the years of the denim revolution. Shortly thereafter he passed the baton to my father who has continued this adventure.
I remember my visits to the factory when I still didn’t know the difference between a nail and a bolt, the impossible working hours, the pizzas eaten between the washing machines, and the smell of iron: that’s how I got involved in the world of denim. And that’s how I understood what my way was.
What challenges lay ahead for the denim sector?
Producing responsibly and with transparency, for the environment, the worker and the final consumer.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Put on your blue coveralls and a pair of gloves, go join the production workers and learn all that you can from them.
What can other industries learn from the denim sector?
The capability to innovate and constantly reinvent itself without losing its uniqueness and its true identity.
What’s exciting you about denim in 2019?
The most exciting thing about denim was during the ITMA Sustainable Innovation Awards in June, where the three finalists were all from the denim industry. This is an award recognizing the most innovating and sustainable companies in the whole textile industry, and being all the finalists coming from the denim sector, emphasizes how innovating our industry is.