Historic Workshops: the heart of Made in ItalyEfesti
In the international collective conscious the Italian Fashion Houses are imposed as a synonym of excellence thanks to making clothing and accessories characterized by high-quality, standard that in recent years not all labels succeed to follow due to the outsourcing production. There are places, however, where there is no doubt that the material culture at the base of the made in Italy is preserved and safeguarded. They are located in the heart of the city and they are very small, especially if compared to the big brands. The reference is to the historical Italian workshops: centennial businesses open since generations, real pieces of historical memory to be understood not only as the cultural heritage of the belonging city but of the entire nation. They are, in fact, guardians of the genious “local talent” that preserves the knowhow and produces with traditional machinery, respecting those old teachings often passed from hand to hand.
Realities that, unfortunately, are gradually disappearing: high rents, taxes and competition from shopping centers are forcing the owners of these shops to close doors. A severe affront to the Made in Italy, which sees many of its pioneers abandon activities as important as representative of the Italian economic scenery. But there is also who succeed to survive and, indeed, to expand aiming to high-quality of its artifacts as well as exploiting the international fame created around them. In fact, not only Italy but also abroad, especially the USA and Japan, appreciate the craftsmanship of excellence capable of giving birth to luxury and impeccably crafted products. Present a bit ‘on the whole Italian territory, however, it is in historic cities, like Naples, Milan, Florence and Rome that they have found the perfect and culturally appropriate place in which to survive.
In Naples, for example, we can find the shop of Elena Gigante, which since the mid-nineteenth century packs mainly silk flowers, so perfect and of high quality, enough to be requested by Chanel and Marni to beautify their own clothes. Another jewel of the Neapolitan “know-how” is embodied by Talarico, one of the oldest Neapolitan companies that produces handcrafted umbrellas since 1860. Official supplier to the royal house, today boasts a very high number of international demands thank to the quality of its umbrellas whose handles are made of bone, ivory, silver and precious woods.
In Milan, the Italian fashion capital, one could not miss the historic workshops of women’s accessories and refined luxury. Leu Locati is one of them: supplier of the royal houses as well, since 1908 has been creating bags using high quality leather as well as silver and gold woven with original machinery from ‘900. Then there is Gallia and Peter, a millinery where hats are being made since 1930.
On the left a fine needlepoint bag by Leu Locati; on the right a hat by Modisteria Gallia e Peter
Florence, city of poetry, hosts instead Pineider, shop that mainly produces paper but also leather goods, pens, inks, cases for documents and table accessories. Founded in 1774, it was one of the main landmarks of writers like Stendhal, Lord Byron, Giacomo Leopardi and Charles Dickens. In San Giovanni square, however, there is Panerai, a watch shop that was founded in 1860 as a school and laboratory. He is currently the supplier of the Italian Navy, and has 30 boutiques around the world.
On the left a two handle bag by Pineider; on the right a Radiomir watch by Panerai
In Rome, finally, we find “Antica Manifattura Cappelli” which was opened in 1936 by the Cirri family, creates high quality hats without abandoning the principles of tradition and uniqueness conjugated with innovation.
Antica Manifattura Cappelli
This is intended to be only a piece of a much larger reality, only a small number of fortunate examples, because there are hundreds of historic Italian workshops that struggle daily to survive, to maintain and pass on their creativity and their skill to create unique objects, representative of a reality that is gradually dying out and that only in recent years has begun to be encouraged.