Imposing, majestic, magnetic. In the presence of Three peaks of Lavaredo, the lake of Misurina seems a huge stage. Above the frozen surface, in the title role, he makes his Italian debut Audi e-tron GT, the new electric Granturismo from the house of Four Rings. The maximum expression of technological development, therefore, under the sly gaze of Dolomite peaks, symbol of tradition and icon of an ecosystem that must be safeguarded. “Innovation and sustainability today they cannot be separated, ”he says Claudio Marenzi, patron of Herno, who previewed the car – 646 CV in the RS version, the most powerful Audi ever – alongside the driver Dindo Capello, venturing on a scale reproduction of the legendary circuit of the Nürburgring. «A paradigm that is valid in the fashion, as in mobility».
On the one hand the cars, on the other the mountains: what place do they occupy in your heart?
«My dad was a rally driver and won several awards: the passion for engines was born thanks to him who taught me to drive very young, we organized special tests on the dirt hills, between Massino Visconti and Arona. I was born and raised there, on Lake Maggiore, a pre-Alpine area, so I have always also had a strong bond with the mountain environment: seven kilometers from my home there is the Stresa cable car that leads to Mottarone, when I was attending the high school I was hitchhiking to go skiing ».
Just in Lesa, in the Erno river valley, in 1948 his parents took over an ancient factory which today, thanks to his contribution, is one of the most avant-garde Italian fashion brands. How do history and progress mix?
«Originally we made raincoats, that is garments that had a specific function: to protect from water. On this simple concept we have developed our current philosophy: to improve functionality through technology. Over the last fifteen years we have focused on the idea of performance, but without forgetting our past: so in 2010 Herno Laminar was born, the translation of garments from active sport into an urban world. For us it was a real evolutionary leap in that we introduced something that was not there into the market, creating a union between the tradition of tailoring and the revolution of city technical garments ».
Innovation that, in fact, cannot ignore attention to the environment. How long, and in what way, has Herno started thinking according to this combination?
“In 2010 I asked myself what I could do to keep the places I was most fond of intact, the contribution I could make to the well-being of the community: step by step, I managed to make our production centers autonomous from an energy point of view, today all the energy we consume is what we produce. An important investment that has turned into a corporate mantra, the beginning of a path that has led to continuous improvements in terms of efficiency: from here we started working on the PEF (Product Environmental Footprint), the mapping of the environmental footprint that leaves a garment in the its production “.
And the results have arrived.
“We have always expressed ourselves with absolute numbers, not with percentages as is often the custom: a methodology that at the beginning was little understood, both by consumers and in the company, because it was a sort of coming out. Declare your starting level and set yourself a measurable and quantifiable target: we have improved, year after year, by intervening on the entire supply chain. And today we have the GLOBE line, our spearhead: there is not only a virtuous production process there, but also performing fabrics on sustainability. For example, we have a biodegradable duvet in just five years: in the absence of oxygen it disappears completely, along with the zipper and buttons. Then there are garments with recycled fabrics, derived from industrial and post-consumer waste materials. Obviously, attention to design is not lacking: sustainability must be beautiful, it cannot be separated from aesthetics ».
What words would you choose to describe your company? And how can they connect with the Audi universe?
«Both Herno and Audi find themselves in the encounter between tradition, performance, design, technological innovation and sustainability. However, I believe that the most fitting word that unites the two brands is audacity, that is the persistence of courage: imagine the right direction in advance and keep it, even if the fruits do not arrive immediately. You have to be good at protecting your vision and evaluating it in the long term: at the beginning of Herno Laminar, for example, I didn’t put four collections on the market, done and finished, because they didn’t convince me from the point of view of quality. Although the effort was not bringing tangible results, we have kept the bar straight in the company ».
Has new steps already taken on the future linked to the environmental issue?
“I think the way of thinking needs to change, electric mobility is doing a lot in this direction: I notice it when I’m behind the wheel of my e-tron Sportback, I drive with a different awareness, I get excited when I manage to earn some kilometer of autonomy. Of course, there is still a long way to go, but I believe that the main goal of sustainability is, in the space of twenty years, to stop talking about it. It would mean having applied a certain way of acting to all processes, feeling it normal. And having won the challenge that the planet is facing us today ».