Lectra and Mittelmoda – a collaboration supporting young fashion talent

The International Lab of Mittelmoda - The Fashion Award is back once again in the prestigious setting of MICAM. After supporting Mittelmoda and its contests for over 15 years, Lectra is introducing its first-ever “Pattern Maker Award.” The award is designed to enhance the talent of young people and reward the most deserving creations.

Lectra young pattern makers

With the precious support of Carlo Barbieri, Pattern Maker Manager at Twinset Spa and Maurizio Cazzin, Pattern Maker Manager at Giorgio Armani, Lectra will foster the professional growth of young pattern makers with a special reward: a Modaris CAD software license to support realization of their collection, plus a training session with a Lectra expert. To be awarded the special “Pattern Maker Award,” pattern makers are evaluated on the sartorial design and pattern-making techniques used to make outerwear designs.

Liger Lectra

The world of fashion work today demands technology to speed up and automate the production of garments. Fashion design schools focus their training on technology to help future fashion leaders acquire specific technology skills used and required by fashion companies.

Lectra wants to bridge both realities with the aims of 1) fostering and supporting the creative young talent, and 2) creating concrete opportunities for professional development through active synergies with our customers, who constitute the largest and most prestigious companies in the world of fashion.”

Jacqueline Liger, LECTRA Vice President Marketing & Communication Southern Europe and North Africa.

We interviewed Carlo and Maurizio to get to know what they’ve done and what it takes to succeed in the fashion industry.

1- How did you get into pattern making? Where did your passion come from? How did you get to your current job and role?

Carlo Barbieri: After earning a degree in industrial pattern making, I started my career as a simple pattern maker within a company. Then, luckily for me, I met a tailor pattern maker who gave me the opportunity to work with him, learning methodologies and techniques at the highest level. Thanks to the financial contribution of my employer, I attended another postgraduate course at the Istituto Marangoni in Milan, to learn and be inspired by other pattern makers.

I had subsequent work experiences: at Max Mara for 14 years, then at Liu Jo for 8 years and now at Twinset, where I’ve been for 7 years. Here I manage the modelling and tailoring departments. The passion for this world was born when I was very young. Every week I wanted to buy branded and trendy clothes. I already had a keen interest and a deep curiosity toward them. I already felt a creative vein inside me.

Maurizio Cazzin: My passion started very early: in the garage/studio of a pattern maker, who was a friend of my parents. I saw many models of jackets and trousers and smelled the scent of the pattern and the tools. It seemed to be a kind of a magic job because although I only saw pieces of cardboard, my mentor explained to me that they were a jacket or a sleeve. With such a great curiosity about this profession, so I enrolled in a professional course for stylists and fashion operators at an institute in Padua. During this schooling, and especially during an internship in a company offered by the institute, I realized that my interest was in the process of making garments, especially outerwear.

After high school graduation, I attended a pattern maker course at the Istituto Secoli in Milan.
I was lucky to have an opportunity to work at the Canali company as an assistant pattern maker. From there my professional career developed, leading me to work for Boglioli and then for the Armani Group, where I am now menswear supervisor inside the style office.

Barbieri Twinset

2 – The importance of pattern maker inside fashion companies

Carlo Barbieri: There are many important activities in the various fashion companies, but I believe that the role of the pattern maker is fundamental. He is responsible for making on a 1 to 1 scale what another person, in this case the designer, has conceived with a sketch or image. After actively participating in the transformation of lines and volumes, the pattern maker must make the garment, a process that requires very technical knowledge in addition to creativity. The pattern maker must also have a concrete vision as well as the necessary technical knowledge to make the product.

Maurizio Cazzin: In my opinion, the role of the pattern maker is very important since, thanks to this professional, sketches, ideas and creative expressions are brought to life and created. As a matter of fact, I am very happy that the Mittelmoda competition allows professionals to emerge and express themselves because, within the production chain, the pattern maker plays a strategic role that must be valued in the same way as that of the designer.

3 – What skills, expertise and characteristics are required to follow this professional path into the today fashion world?

Carlo Barbieri: Besides creativity and concreted ideas, the pattern maker must have transversal skills concerning the entire production chain: from the prototype cutting to the garment’s entire production chain, up to the ironing. This mix of skills allows the pattern maker to be able to create a garment in the shortest possible time, respecting the economic limits, the feasibility and material performance. The in-depth knowledge of raw materials and fabrics is another essential characteristic for the pattern maker, not only because product knowledge allows correct fabric matching to the garments being made, but also to be able to estimate the production costs with greater precision.

Maurizio Cazzin: First of all, I would like to point out a fundamental distinction --there is work and profession/craft. Being a pattern maker means learning a profession, which is synonymous with art, craftsmanship, creativity and sensitivity.

So future model makers must have artistic sensibility, combined with mathematical and geometric skills to be able to interpret and create lines and volumes. There must be a lot of passion, and also patience because a pattern usually must be redone several times before it is perfect and precise and meets expectations. It is necessary to have a knowledge of cutting and sewing, to know the various stages of the production chain, and understand the raw materials. Vocational schools help young people acquire the basic skills needed to learn this profession.

Cazzin Armani

4- Where is positioned the role of the pattern maker in the value chain, who are the teams he/she works with in the company 

Carlo Barbieri: In my opinion, what the pattern maker does is at the center of the design project. In fact, he is in contact and collaborates with almost all the offices, from the style to the technical one, to the production department. The pattern maker realizes an idea of ​​the style office making it reproducible in series, and this is a very important aspect. He must therefore manage to "industrialize the garment" and try to prevent production problems, in order to reduce costs while trying to maintain the highest quality. For example: with a production saving of 5 euros, a saving of 50 euros on the actual final cost of the garment can be achieved.

Maurizio Cazzin: There is an initial exchange of ideas and handover with the style office, then the collaboration reaches the production office to start the real making of the garments. Once the paper pattern is made and the technical sheets are ready, the information is passed on to those who have to make the outfits. So, we can say that the pattern maker is at the center of the value chain. Of course, there are different types of companies, so the pattern maker can work within a company that produces their own garments or work for an external service to which a company gives the making of patterns and prototypes.

5 – What are the evaluation metrics considered to select the finalists for the special “Pattern Maker Award” offered by Lectra within the international fashion contest Mittelmoda?

Carlo Barbieri: The evaluation metrics we considered include the match with the idea, so the sketch; the general creativity of the project; the interpretation of lines and volumes on the paper pattern and the sense of proportions on a 1:1 scale; the industrialization of clothing and the wearability.

Maurizio Cazzin: We started by analyzing the student’s initial idea to evaluate whether there was a fil rouge between the sketch and the final outcome. We considered coherence with the creative idea from one side, and the concreteness in the making of the garment on the other side. During the evaluation process we also considered the moodboards, the fabrics and some parts of the paper patterns.

6 – What would you suggest to future pattern makers?

Carlo Barbieri: It would be nice to create a hybrid job, a D/PM, that is to say a Designer/Pattern Maker, since design and pattern making go hand in hand. Young people should value the university courses and competitions, such as Mittelmoda, because it is here where they can express their creativity in total freedom, propose innovative ideas and achieve winning projects for more and more competitive markets.

Maurizio Cazzin: my main suggestion is to invest in your own education and persist! Don't be discouraged if you are having difficulty looking for a job after your studies. Twenty-five years ago, I had to move from the countryside to the city to find the right job. Today, it might be necessary to change countries, but you have to consider moving as an investment to start filling in the pages of your CV. Spirit of sacrifice, great curiosity, eagerness to learn and to compare your work to others is required, as well as to be able to accept criticism. The profession of the pattern maker gives great satisfaction, but it requires commitment and dedication.