What Cuba is to cigars and Scotland is to whisky, Italy is to leather. That’s to say that in their category, they are simply and unquestionably, pure and simple, a cut above the rest of the world. A genuine ‘Made in Italy’ leather item means that right from the hide sourcing to tanning and dyeing, and then designing and manufacturing, every single step of the process has occurred in Italy. Such ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods command a hefty premium among the well heeled and style conscious buyers the world over and carry price tags running into hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. What makes these ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods so aspirational that buyers are willing to pay truly hefty premiums for them? Is it all perception, or is there substance behind it too?
We explain the key reasons in this article.
The three factors that make ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods by far the best in the world are their simply superb leather quality, outstanding designs and exquisite craftsmanship. Now let’s take a brief look at all these three factors one by one.
Italian leather is simply the best in the world.
Italy is world’s most exclusive leather destination. Not just high-end leather goods, it is also world leader in leather tanning and manufacturing machinery. As per Assomac, the association of Italian manufacturers of machines for footwear, leather and tannery industries, almost 50% of world’s footwear and leather goods machinery and 80% of tanning machinery is sourced from Italy. These specialized manufacturers focus on quality and technological advancements, and find buyers worldwide. So when a buyer opts for ‘Made in Italy’ leather goods and accessories, the assurance of the finest production process is inherent and implicit. Now let’s move from leather machinery to leather itself.
The real Italian leather or Cuoio italiano, as they call it in Italy, is sourced, tanned, dyed and made into products totally in Italy. Being high-end and super premium, the focus is not on mass production. The focus is totally on quality and exclusivity. Italian leather manufacturers use the best quality natural tanning agents, dyes and finishing techniques to produce the very best leather. As tanning, dyeing and finishing work together to give leather not just durability and longevity, but personality and charm as well, this becomes a key factor in production of best quality leather. Leather companies here are mostly family-owned businesses handed down generations where traditional leather tanning recipes are guarded as zealously as state secrets.The industry may be small and tightly held by a select few but it supplies tanned leather to 120 countries. 20% of world’s leather is produced in Italy. Do remember that combined with Italian leather’s exclusiveness, 20% market share overall is quite fantastic.
Then genuine Italian leather is made from the best cowhides available i.e. hides from well fed, well cared for cows without injuries, scars or disease; and it is full grain i.e. from the thickest section of the cowhide that doesn’t need to be sanded and thus is super durable. Actually full grain leather, like a good wine, gets better with time. Have a genuine Italian leather bag with ‘Made in Italy’ tag? You have invested in a quality product that will never crack, or discolor or peel. On the contrary, it will acquire added sheen as time passes.
Italian design is the classiest you can find
Italian craftsmanship, it is the most exquisite your money can buy.Italian leather may be outstanding but it is still a raw material that needs design and production before it can command top dollars on shop shelves. That’s where Italy’s formidable design reputation gets to work. Fashions made in Italy are huge favourites of those who are willing to spend astronomical sums to join the ‘best dressed and the best accessorized’ lists. As Milan is one of the undisputed fashion capitals of the world and Italian high fashion brands are the among the crème de la crème of haute couture, Italian leather too has absorbed many of attributes associated with them. Attributes such as high quality, high fashion and good taste.
A Fendi handbag, a Prada wallet, a Gucci briefcase, a pair of Ferragamo stilettos, an Armani leather jacket, a Cavalli leather skirt- those who know their brands know that these are the ultimate for the high fashion priests and priestesses. Not just for Italian brands, for most luxury brands and designers worldwide, Italian leather is the best leather to recreate their on-paper designs into products that fetch a hefty premium in the market. And when these fashion houses use Italian leather to give shape to their designer clothes, jackets, bags, shoes, wallets, belts and other products, the result is breathtaking design boosted by exclusive quality that makes them objects of desire. Not just haute couture clothing and accessory labels, luxury furniture brands like Natuzzi and exclusive car companies like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati also use Italian leather for upholstering their products. It is a win-win situation for both, the brand and the raw material. They complement each other’s requirement and enhance their individual glories too. Not surprising then that Made in Italy leather goods and accessories are the byword in exclusiveness and feature high up on the ‘must own’ list of high net worth individuals.
Top quality raw material and superb design require one more input – exquisite craftsmanship – to wow the end user. That’s the third field where the ‘Made in Italy’ tag carries much weight. Italy’s reputation as world’s fashion hub is not new. Instead it has been gained over centuries of supplying premium handmade articles to other nations. Italian leather craftsmen (and craftswomen) used to create bespoke leather goods and accessories for royalty and aristocracy worldwide. That illustrious heritage still lives on in the near-perfect craftsmanship that employs modern technology at many steps but ensures that each and every cut, stitch and accesorization is precision redefined.
Italian leather is an outstanding confluence of best leather, best design and best workmanship. Unsurprising then that it is much sought after by those who wish to buy the very best and are willing to pay a premium for it.