The Cressi’s tailor
In the Cressi company, a pioneer in the diving equipment industry since 1946, there is a man who, for 35 years, has dressed divers all over the world. His name is Marino Bernardini and, citing the Giustinian phrase “Nomina sunt consequentia rerum”, he could only have a marked path in the world of diving.
Just outside Genoa, on the road that leads to the Ligurian hinterland, there is the headquarters of Cressi Sub, a brand that has made the history of diving and that still today is a landmark in the sector.
It was 1938 when the brothers Egidio and Nanni Cressi began to build the first masks and the first spear guns, with small-scale productions; but it is in 1946 that the Cressi Sub is officially founded, in a second post-war period full of hopes and desire to recover from the disasters of the conflict just passed.
From that historic date the name Cressi has always been inextricably linked to the world of diving: the oldest diving equipment factory in the world, the only 100% Italian still, owned by the Cressi family for over 70 years.
April 2019. We are in Genoa for a visit to the Cressi factory where I will meet the engineer Roberto Ceresero, head of the company’s Technical Department, and Alessandra will spend the day with Marino Bernardini, head of the Research and Development and Assistance Department in the suit sector.
Our trip has been scheduled for more than a month, for one of the recurring visits to the producers we work with: updates, product presentations and tests, operational and technical feedback; even if it is work we feel at home, between people who speak a language that unites everyone in these pleasant “repatriates”, that of diving.
Roberto is my point of reference in the Cressi house (and so for all those who do my job), a person with whom a great professional and human understanding has been established since the first meeting; of course, some added value is also due to the excellent chestnut gnocchi with pesto which enchanted us during our first Genoese visit, but this is another story (in the end we are always divers, by vocation lovers of good food , good wine and good company).
The success of a company is a heritage built with dedication, passion and ability by the men who work there.
Inside the Cressi plant there is the Research & Development mute laboratory; there, among mountains of neoprene, models of hanging wetsuits and that familiar smell that fills the air, we meet the company’s tailor-stylist, Marino Bernardini.
Defining Marino only as the manager of the suit laboratory would be rather reductive: it is certainly one of the people who have contributed decisively to keep the Cressi brand at the top of the sector in the last 35 years, “dressing” for at least a couple of generations.
- About 30 models currently in the catalog
- Over 150 models made and put into production from 1985 to today
- More than 400 designs and projects made and tested
These are just the most representative numbers of the work he has done (and continues to do) with passion and craftsmanship, to give life to the wetsuits that, all over the world, are worn by thousands of divers every day.
Since joining the company, in 1985, Marino has dedicated himself to the design and production of wetsuits: from the idea to the study of the project, from the realization of the prototype to the production control, everything is the work of a meticulous craftsmanship that has passed through more than three decades, combining quality with Italian creativity, in a constant search for new techniques and stylistic updates.
All models are entirely handmade by Mr. Bernardini, before moving to the digitization department, will prepare the final documents for production.
He works in the “old way”, with scissors, cardboard and ruler, all held together by a manual skill that makes each project destined for packaging a tailored piece.
Even the models already in production are constantly reviewed and improved, with small changes made on the basis of Marino’s intuitions and thanks to the contribution of divers who send feedback to the company.
Cressi Sub, a nice company that gave me a lot of satisfaction and made me feel important.
Even though the industrial production of wetsuits is now entirely entrusted to companies in the Far East, all the research (of materials and style), design, drawings, water tests and quality control are managed directly by the Genoese plant, where Marino Bernardini supervises every single step.
I had already had the opportunity to visit Cressi Sub before, but what prompted me this time to write about it was the desire to share an aspect that I did not know, a reality made up of people in the reality-apparent one made up of commercial catalogs, websites and advertising.
This reality that I discovered is made up of years of work, daily dedication, intuition, skill, passion and great ability; all this, light years away from what is then translated into the “commercial world” made of bright colors, commercials and high-tech technologies, is the work that really creates that added value at the base of the success of a product or a brand.
Marino Bernardini has been following and actively participating in the evolution of the Cressi brand for 35 years, without interruption; this is a great corporate asset, a sort of biological historical archive from which to draw to look to the future while remaining faithful to its origins.
Another thing that impressed me, of the whole production chain, is that every single model, before being put into production, is tested directly in water by Mr. Antonio Cressi himself.
I don’t know of any other company in the sector (with a turnover that goes well over 30 million euros) whose president is dedicated to testing every product, in the cold waters of Liguria; I hope that Cressi Sub will continue like this, with that passion and dedication that make the difference, 100% Italian.
Text and photos: Massimo Bidetti/Amphibica ©2019