Customers want a multi-sensorial experience

Craftsmanship is a multi-sensorial experience, something that prestigiously engages customers and touches their emotions.

 “Customers are looking for something special,” London-based designer David Koma tells the Business of Fashion. “There’s a huge market for commercial brands so I feel if [customers] are buying something expensive and buying something special, there should be a lot of handwork and craftsmanship involved to make them feel that their money is well spent.”

For many reasons, craftsmanship has remained an incredibly important marketing message for luxury brands in recent years. Brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have been known to bring their artisans into retail stores, who then hand-stitch leather goods in the presence of customers. YouTube has allowed these demonstrations to become global. Brands can now visually establish the intricacies of hand stitched leather goods, couture embroidery, eyewear assembly, the handling of exotic skins and even how some of their most iconic products are made, start to finish.

Indeed, a visual content that includes the craftsmanship has a certain atmosphere and mood that makes the client think about how those products are made with love, care, gentleness and great attention, not missing any detail of the whole process of making. That is because lots of fashion companies are trying the more to advertise heavily through this persuasive art, building on this some specific marketing strategy and stimulating all the five senses of the audience.

Business is merging craftsmanship, again.

Consumers need to experience “craft” not just as static objects or as brand-led “fashion,” “luxury design” or “art,” but must also understand the full context in which they were made, why they are special, and meet the creators and see their remarkable skills up close.

So we can see that a new “trend” is affirming:

growing sophistication rather than raw wealth 
is becoming the main driver of how people consume, 
shifting luxury spending to 
craft or brands with craft credentials.
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Craftsmen become extremely esteemed resources of luxury brands

The international field of craftsmanship is full of hidden resources that should be revered, treasured and taken preciously.

Nowadays big fashion companies, mainly the so called producers of “fast-fashion”, are outsourcing the production the more is possible, towards places where a simple white t-shirt is made by tiny hands of a little poor girl. The industry of fashion and la Camera della Moda are always trying to clear the issue, ensuring that this kind of human exploitation would not be made again.

Although, of course, this effort is not enough
 to stop great names to produce where 
the cost is reduced at the minimum, 
a little revolution can be made in a different direction.

While biggest industries are exploiting poor workers, on the other hand, there are companies that luckily decide to invest on those multiple skilled hands, which can result as full of resources, not caring about the cost but caring more about the quality. Those companies such as, just to mention some brands, Ferragamo and Chanel, do not give the priority to the lowest costs of production and materials, discriminating the employers, but they give great importance to craftsmanship.

This make them have a differential advantage compared to the other competitors of the market, since lot of customers prefer wearing items which give them sensations and hide a long standing heritage and particular process of making.

The result is of course impeccable: 
the lining, the shapes, the care of those items 
become impeccably perfect, 
plus they have a great value inside.

For these reasons, the biggest luxury fashion brands are competing in order to have the best craftsmen and to get a plus point that becomes distinctive during the process of purchasing. The highest fashion brands have started being more loyal to craftsmanship also because customers, following the trend of the last generations, are becoming more and more interested in the value and the story behind a product, caring about the entire process of making that has to be necessarily transparent and true to the identity of the brand.

3D printing challenges fashion luxury brands

3D printing is an additive technology

which creates three-dimensional

objects by laying thin layers atop each other.

In fashion, traditionally melting or laser sintering is utilized. The machine moves from left to right until an item is stacked into form.  Laser sintering technology allows users to cut into materials to create a type of lattice work or allows you to cut into an already formed object to form another object such as a necklace or bracelet charm. Consumers are buying several 3D printed pieces but are unaware of how the item is being manufactured. Since 3D printing within fashion is in a relatively early stage, many designers and brands are not advertising their use of the technology.

Berlin-based VOJD Studios, a company that specializes in 3D-printed accessories for high fashion houses, admits:

"We are firm believers that classic 
craftsmanship 
and new technologies should not be juxtaposed; 
on the contrary, it is the symbiosis between tradition 
and innovation that catalyses progress. 
In our projects, we try to adopt the best of both worlds. 
3D printing is the main manufacturing technology we use,
 but the finishing of the products involves 
a lot of precise manual work and traditional skilled 
craftsmanship – a collaborative approach that 
we believe would push forward the applications 
of digital manufacturing in the future."

 

Alessandro Dari, the master of Gold

The beauty of Florence is that you can actually get lost among the tiny streets, discovering impeccable beauties that, most of the times, have experienced hundreds of years, like the workshop of Alessandro Dari. Just a little bit out of the center, once I was walking on Via San Niccolò, near Piazzale Michelangelo, I discovered a small workshop inside a wonderful palace of the XV century. Admiring magnificent building original from the Renaissance, this hidden laboratory kept my attention.

Alessandro Dari is a Florentine master of the art of gold-smithing as well as being a sculptor and a pharmacist. He made his first creation, a beautiful ring, when he was sixteen years old, just to prove his great skills also when he was very young. In his shop-museum, in the Nasi-Quaratesi palace, you can admire his collections of gold-smithing and appreciate the uniqueness of the jewels.

gold, art, florence His work is based on an on-going spiritual quest of his personal experience that nourishes and stimulates the creation of his works. Since the Eighties, Dari has produced 900 pieces divided into collections that are inspired by Gothic, Castles, Music, Alchemy and Sacred Art. He was the first to combine anatomy and architecture in the world of contemporary jewellery. His works are on display at the Silver Museum in Florence. In 2003, he won the Perseo award for Best Artist of the town and, in 2006, he was mentioned as artist chosen by the Vatican. The Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage awarded his lab in 2001 as a ‘Museum Workshop’. Last year, he began to run sculptural jewelry courses.

Don’t think he creates “just” jewels!

His creations range from little earrings to magnificent sculptures that doesn’t need to be worn necessarily.

This example of craftsmanship shows how this limitless field is,
 always experimenting something new, 
being updated, though its roots are so far away in the past.


Scuola del Cuoio

The area of Santa Croce is historically renowned for its leather making and Scuola del Cuoio is the real prof. Ancient tanneries used to line the streets on Via dei Conciatori and Corso dei Tintori. Florence prides itself on tradition and for those wishing to learn about leather making, or if just after a quality handbag, Scuola Del Cuoio is the ideal place to visit.

One weekend I decided to visit the beautiful church of Santa Croce, with a very unique artistic style, gathering a great number of tombs of the most renowned and famous personalities of the past.

Moving inside the main building, 
I was drawn immediately into this magical 
world with an extraordinary history.

Created 64 years ago by Marcello Gori, Scuola Del Cuoio is still a family affair. Sisters Laura, Francesca and Barbara Gori all play a vital part in continuing the ethos of the school developed by their father. The Gori family have been Florentine leather makers for almost 100 years beginning with a store on via del Corso in 1932. In 1950, Mr Gori with his cousin Silvano Casini were invited by the Franciscan Friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce to teach a practical skill to orphans affected by World War II. Housed in what was once the home of trainee monks, the current workshop and showroom stand under wonderful 15th century arched ceilings complete with Renaissance frescos and the Medici coat of arms.

scuola del cuoio, florence

 

Today the school is still full of students, most travelling from all over the world to train under the Gori family’s guidance learning classic Florentine leather making skills. Everything you see is made by hand using traditional methods and original designs.

The smell of the leather is preciously 
authentic among the shop.

Handbags are central to the collection. Laura designs the classic style while Francesca makes one-of a-kind hand stitched bejewel bags. You can also create your own bespoke bag by working with Francesca on your creative idea. The store also sells tailored jackets, leather-bound notebooks and purses.

bag florence