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June 3, 2014

Gherardini. The first 125 years of a “luxury” firm

History of a much-loved Florentine company, born from a small artisan workshop, in 1885

It’s a pity we lost all trace of Gherardini for a while. Because in Florence Gherardini, besides being the ancient, noble name of a family which, according to Giorgio Vasari, gave birth to Lisa Gherardini (the famous Monna Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci – ed), has always represented a well-loved firm which developed from Garibaldo Gherardini’s artisan workshop of 1885. Garibaldo opened his workshop in Via del Fiordaliso and specialized in making cases. His skill in leather working joined with his remarkable bent for innovative ideas. He experimented new techniques, taking meticulous care of detail and creativity became a distinguishing feature of the young firm. In those years Gherardini invented the double gold and stone closure, which he created with such love and care that they became unique pieces. In later years these qualities came to the attention of the general public and Garibaldo’s firm was continued by his sons Gino and Ugo. From then on and under their supervision, their mark extended to include bags, small leather goods and raincoats. Their logo’s famous G passed the boundaries of Florence and spread worldwide. In 1920 they opened a shop in Via della Vigna Nuova. And in 1960 they opened the new factory in Casellina, just outside the city. 1969 saw the creation of a new collection of women’s leather wear which was displayed on the catwalk in the Sala Bianca in Palazzo Pitti, confirming that it was now part of the widely praised and envied new Italian production. Other victories followed, then in 1990 the trade-mark was sold to the Japanese Watanabe group. In 2000 it returned to Italy with a relaunching programme. The boutiques in Milan, Florence and Rome were renewed. In 2007, Braccialini, the Florentine firm set up in 1954, now famous also for its limited edition of handbags, decided to purchase Dadorosa, licensee for the production and distribution of Gherardini products. Lorenzo Braccialini, the firm’s managing director, brought the centrality of the brand back to its origins. Now Gherardini celebrates its 125th anniversary and as a strategic issue proposes also to recover the historic pieces that marked the style of an era. From the “archive project” the return of the Bellona, a small coffer dated 1967, one of the first coffer-bags given a name instead of a traditional code number. The Dodicidodici of 1959, a trapeze-shaped handbag with spring-closure. The 1968 clutch bag for evening wear will have five new variations. Absolutely new is the “made to measure project” envisaging the creation, on request, of calfskin models selected from the historical archive.Next autumn a monograph on 125 years of the history of this important House will be released.  


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