Everyone knows that, even today, Florence is still dedicated to the artisan tradition of leather goods, shoes, handbags and, above all, the great success of artistic, split leather desk sets.
Where is the raw material prepared? Today, the district of high-quality vegetable-based tanning is concentrated in provinces of Pisa and Florence, in and around Santa Croce sull’Arno and Ponte a Egola. It continues a tradition that fears no competition despite the uniformity of taste and workmanship that characterise the market. The same is true for the productive district in Scandicci, just outside of Florence.
The heart of this know-how was born right here in the heart of Florence in the Santa Croce quarter, as revealed by some street names: Via della Conce (tanning street) and Via dei Conciatori (tanner street).
In Florence, the companies that work leather by hand occupy an important place on the marketplace. Some inherited their work from the family. Of the others, some crossed the seas; others are transforming their ideal dreams into reality day by day. An institution such as the Scuola del cuoio, founded as a charity to provide social assistance to war orphans, has a marvellous reputation and produces fine leather objects. It is situated in the convent of the Holy Cross and has belonged to the Gori family for over sixty years.
When, in 1952, Florence was proclaimed the “Fashion Capital”, a winning inspiration of Giovan Battista Giorgini, classic leather goods sample collections began to incorporate handbags and suitcases.
Today, Florence can count on the presence of very exclusive bespoke shoemaker workshops, such as the now famous Stefano Bemer brand. The Japanese designer, Hidetaka Fukaya, and the German, Saskia Wittmer, have both elected Florence as their new home. Here they create unique, bespoke shoes while respecting the emphasis on colour and modulation of desire.
Just as they do in the Mannina shop, a few steps away from Pitti Palace, where Antonio carries on in the family tradition, as he learned from his father Calogero. Another address to remember is that of Roberto Ugolini, in the Santo Spirito quarter. His workshop specialises in extremely comfortable shoes that also satisfy the desire for beauty.