Leather goods, men’s and women’s shoes, artistic cuoietto in Florence
Strolling around Florence, you are bound to notice the number of workshops dealing in leather goods. This is an ancient craft in which the city has achieved such a level of excellence that it is recognised everywhere. For you the best addresses where to find shoes and leather accessories made in a workmanlike manner!
Scuola del cuoio
Scuola del Cuoio was founded in Florence in 1950 thanks to the joint initiative of the Gori and Casini families (Florentine leather artisans since 1930) and the Franciscan friars at the Basilica of Santa Croce, with the mission to teach war orphans artisan techniques for producing leather. Still today, the school carries out internationally-recognized educational activities. In addition to this, there is, of course, a thriving production industry, with bags, wallets, belts and jackets all made strictly by hand. Each piece is personalized in terms of size, hide and craftsmanship, and are made according to each client’s wishes.
The perfect Italian shoe: this was the ambitious goal that Stefano Bemer had when he opened his workshop in 1983. A few years later, the brand became one of the most renowned the world over for the technique, style and quality of its tailor-made footwear. The actor Daniel Day Lewis worked alongside this great master for one year, incognito, falling so in love with the art of shoemaking to the point that Martin Scorsese himself had to come to Florence to convince the actor to return to the film industry, hiring him for Gangs of New York. Today, in the deconsecrated church on via San Niccolò, the brand that carries on the excellent tradition of its roots, produces shoes that are assembled by hand, be they ready to wear, made-to-order or bespoke, offering an infinite variety of hides and colours.
Pelletteria Artigiana Viviani
Pelletteria Artigiana Viviani has roots in the great Florentine artisan tradition of leather-making. Renato Viviani opened his workshop and boutique in the centre of Florence in 1965 after spending years mastering his craft, first in Guccio Gucci’s workshop in the 1920s and later in Buenos Aires in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, where he became a master artisan. Women’s bags and work bags, wallets and belts, these original creations are designed, cut and assembled completely by hand. The hides used for all the products come exclusively from Tuscan tanneries. The workshop is today headed by Renato’s daughter and grandson, Viviana and Leonardo.
Saskia Scarpe su Misura
Vivian Saskia Wittmer learned how to craft bespoke shoes in Germany under the best Master shoemaker. Moving to Florence she improved her skills and techniques under Stefano Bemer, another prestigious name in the world of custom made shoes. For about 20 years, Saskia has had her own workshop where she makes men’s shoes completely by hand. The client explains his needs and ideas and she develops the personal model based on this. The shoes are created with leathers in the range from calf to kid, shark to camel, kangaroo to elephant skins.
In the heart of the Florence craft district of Oltrarno lies a hidden workshop in which the most original bags and accessories are created. Dimitri’s laboratory is a secluded but welcoming place, with a simple but fascinating feel about it, where the past and the present seem to mingle with the smell of leather and the sound of the clinking of ancient tools. Attention to detail, tradition, passion and poetry are the watchwords of this man and his workshop, which is also open to young people who wish to become Leather Artisans.
Driven by his passion for artisanship and the local shoemaking tradition, Calogero Mannina opened a small laboratory for creating his exceptional and original shoes in the mid 1950s. Always attentive to change, over the years Calogero has managed to combine stimuli and inspiration from the fashion world with meticulous craftsmanship, research and top quality materials. This precious legacy has been handed down to his son Antonio, who now oversees the activities of the workshop and store, adding a touch of elegance and distinctive style. Today, as yesterday, men’s and women’s shoes are wholly handmade and are a perfect fit for even the most demanding foot.
Located right in front of Santo Spirito Church, Roberto Ugolini’s laboratory is where shoes of the highest quality are produced with exclusively artisan methods. The Florentine shoemaker makes shoes the old way: everything begins with the choice of the model and the materials, but it with the use of the wooden last, modified according to the measurements of the foot, that the real “made in Tuscany” stage occurs. A workshop that is redolent of leather and tradition, but also of precision and uniqueness.
Furò e Punteruolo
Needles, awls, hammers, pliers and hole punches. It only takes a glance to see that this laboratory is run by experts who really know all the secrets of leathercraft. All their creations – belts, wallets, bucket bags, laptop cases - are cut by Paolo Fattori and sewn by his wife Luisa, using exclusively leathers tanned with plant products, with their graining and striation effects obtained either naturally or after a long drying: “every product leaving my shop is unique in two ways: for the leather used and the craftsmanship. Then it becomes unique in a third way - use turns the leather from opaque to shining.”
Il Micio di Hidetaka Fukaya
Da bambino, a Nagoya, gli capitò tra le mani un libro sull’artigianato fiorentino e la tradizione pellettiera. Rimase affascinato e dopo tanti anni decise di trasferirsi a Firenze e diventare un artigiano a pieno titolo. Dal 1999 nella sua bottega di via de’ Federighi, Hidetaka Fukaya detto il Micio, produce sofisticate calzature maschili e una linea di accessori da viaggio su misura dedicate a un pubblico di raffinati che giungono qui da tutto il mondo.
Pelletteria Bruscoli dal 1881
Bruscoli was founded in 1881 by Egisto Bruscoli as a printing press and book bindery, and in 2016, it passed into the expert hands of Minako Saito. The workshop boasts prints, gold engravings on leather and a book binding service, as well as elegant upholstery for furniture, an element of its business that the atelier undertakes thanks to collaborations with other Florentine artisans. Many of the articles can be found adorning hotels, restaurants and jewellery stores. Everything is made using centuries-old techniques that are applied with stamps (1.500 pieces) and wheels (300) from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The same techniques of burnishing and gilding are used to craft a large variety of artisan products, like bags, wallets, jewellery cases, boxes, portfolios and briefcases, some of which can even be made-to-order.
Il Merlo Bags
Kyoko Morita was born in Chicago and brought up in Nara, Japan. After studying product and interior design in Kyoto, she decided to come to Florence to get to know Italian culture and to learn how to make leather bags. Here she attended the Leather School and then Dimitri Villoresi’s workshop. She finally opened her own laboratory in 2018, producing bags that are unique and original, playing with shapes and colours. Like the Poliedra, with its distinctive three-dimensional form, which creates a perfect and refined harmony between the bag and the person carrying it.
This artisan leather company dates from 1956. The third Peroni generation, Maurizio and Marco, keep the professionalism and manual skills of their predecessors alive today, with the added value of creativity and innovation. Over 1,500 items are made strictly by hand and most of them are without stitching thanks to the ancient shaping technique of Florentine artistic “cuoietto”, using only materials of the highest quality. One of the curiosities of the Peroni production is hand-colored leather: the speckled briarwood effect, which reproduces the tones of this wood, is one of their signature lines. Recognition as a “Bottega d’Arte” in 2015 and being entry into the Register of Italian Excellence in 2017 are just some of the company’s recent successes.