The magazine editor has invited me to write 3 pieces for the February edition of Jamaque Paradis – a quarterly published luxury lifestyle magazine distributed to global connoisseurs, tastemakers and people of influence -, including the cover article. PARADIS is available across the French, Dutch, Spanish and English speaking Caribbean at 5 Diamond Resorts, VIP and First Class Lounges in Panama, St. Lucia, Curacao, Jamaica, Barbados and private banking office across the Caribbean. It is also available in VIP Lounges at Luxury Trade Fairs around the world.
ITALIAN PASSION REACHING INTERNATIONAL MARKETS
Without history, there’s no tradition, which is one of the most admirable aspects of Moreschi – the luxurious Italian brand, formerly known exclusively by its men’s shoe line, that was founded by Mario Moreschi: a former bank employee who passed to each generation of his family the value of producing great quality shoes and luxurious leather essentials, cultivated, until this day, with passion and skill.
It was 1946 when it all began. Mario Moreschi lived in Biella and worked at a bank when one of his friends founded a shoe factory in Vigevano (formerly called Calzaturificio Biellese) and asked him to partner up as an accountant. Moving to Vigevano, which is the most important Italian shoemaking district until this day, little Mario knew that this would become the family business for 3 entire generations (and many more to come). It was when he became the business owner, in 1946, that he changed the factory’s name to Moreschi – which, today, is that kind of company that everyone in town knows someone who works there, or has a family member working there. They keep the balance between family and work and even have a day-care for staff members on the side as well. It is truly a family business in its essence and we could feel it every second of our tour.
Stepping into their factory feels like you’re stepping into the scenario of an Italian movie. It’s everything we expect from the greatest shoemakers around the globe: the atmosphere has nothing but love, from the design of the facility to the happiness and sense of pride we can see in each employer’s eyes. It’s all very clean and well kept. In the 3 hour tour they gave us, we could see that this love, and all the elements from outside and inside the building, just set the mood for an inspiring day at work.
From the open glass windows, we’re able to see and live the nature surrounding us and it’s the most refreshing break from the hectic urban scene. Until this day, they love to incorporate gifts from visitors to their production centre. One surprising curiosity we love is that they always receive plants from different places in the world, as gifts from their partners and visitors. It feels like even the architecture and all its elements tell us that the bond between people (owners, partners, and employers) is the most important thing. And it shows.
Moreschi has changed a lot as a brand, through its 70 years of history, branching out not only to womenswear, but expanding the range of products to a variety of fashion leather goods in general – covering the accessories line with stylish gloves, wallets, belts and bags, but also carrying trendy leather jackets and the internationally appraised shoe line. All of those above, proudly wearing the legacy of the genuine stylish tradition of the “Made in Italy” trademark.
In the beginning, the factory – that occupies 18,00 square meters – had 13 employees. Today, there are 400 people on the entire team and, believe us when we say that every employer touches every product they make, from sketch to production and packaging. From day one, in 1946, until this day, nothing gets outsourced and everything is made in-house. This is what maintains their brand of excellence, alongside with the high value of the materials and the productive process that counts; always the same passages that guarantee the excellent quality of the products.
THE SHOE MAKING PROCESS
The manufacturing process is as complex as it is breathtakingly beautiful. Moreschi chooses very carefully the companies they partner up with to get all the leather they need to manufacture their iconic pieces. These companies are major players of the meat industry and, since they don’t use the skin to any other end, they sell a bi-product ethically sourced to manufacturers, such as the respectful Italian brand.
When the skin arrives at the factory, they let it process during 6 months before using it, allowing the leather to sit and rest to cure, so it softens and offers an easier material to work with, to achieve the best final product, as they do. During this process, the temperature between cold and heat has to be perfect, so they pay extra attention to detail, to all types of animal skins they use. From beginning to end, there are 300 steps, between the machinery and the employees.
To make one pair of shoes, the design is applied to a fabric sheet, it is broken down into pieces and the instructions are supplied to the computer. A pair of uppers is composed of a minimum of eight to a maximum of twenty-four pieces of leather, cut and sewn according to precise criteria. The section where it is most complex and takes 50% of the high-quality production takes well trained and skilled employees, assembling the upper side and the sole. In the assembly phase, the upper is modelled onto the shoe form to assume the accurate depiction of the shape. But, before the shoe can go to packaging, being wrapped in tissue paper for the clientele, there are still 10 more steps to go.
From the selection of the leather to creating those amazing pieces that we admire in shopping windows in each collection, it takes the expertise and talent of an artisan, who’s responsible for the complex sewing procedure. This is an accurate tailoring job, which requires talented hands to sew, polish, attach the sole and get everything perfect, so the clients are able to enjoy those amazing designs – from product to packaging. For their iconic line, they still use a machine dated from 1946 and all the process is mostly made by hand, keeping the heritage alive.
To check on this entire process, the oldest Mr Moreschi rides to the factory by his bike every single day and he makes sure he touches every aspect and follows every step of the entire production.
Within 10 years of its existence, from 1946 to 1956, Moreschi became an established company in Italy and, in 1957, GianBeppe Moreschi took over the business and absolutely transformed it by starting to export the shoes to foreign countries. Since the 3rd generation took over in the ’90s, the company has opened and developed other channels, including social media and e-commerce. They also have added other fashion lines, including a sector dedicated to womenswear, and formed partnerships with impressive brands, such as the leading watchmaker Eberhard & Co.
The clientele was (and still is) very impressive, with names such as the actors Adrien Brody, Richard Burton, and Liam Neeson; the singers Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash and James Brown; the former basketball player Michael Jordan, the tennis player Novak Djokovic and the former ski racer Alberto Tomba. Moreschi is also very popular among Popes and politicians: the beloved Nelson Mandela was one of them. It’s a brand that creates leather goods for elegant men and woman who appreciate great design and timeless fashion.
To this day, with its 70 years of history and craftsmanship, producing around 250.000 pairs of shoes per year and being present in 85 countries – with 40 flagship stores around the globe, Moreschi is one of the few companies that still have all its production entirely made in its original factory and country. The passion and attachment the family and everyone who works for the brand has to its history are really inspiring and it’s the most valuable possession a fashion business can achieve through the years.
BRR… IT’S FURRY IN HERE
If you’re asking yourself if trendy can actually be young and luxurious, the answer is yes. Who holds the key to such a desirable combination is the Italian brand Simonetta Ravizza.
The luxury brand is addressed to the modern woman who loves adding a touch of sophistication to her daily looks: “[…] a modern and chic woman who loves to have in her closet some basic clothes reinvented every year.”, tells us the designer. To a brand that upholds the tradition of the Italian design and the “Made in Italy” label, fur is a highly important element to a woman’s closet. Simonetta states that “a woman becomes more beautiful and more sensual wearing it”, and she’s not just talking about fur coats: “[…] fur is used even to create accessories, like scarves, hats, and bags. A touch of fur donates actuality to the look of a woman.”. This indispensable piece is very versatile and gets various reinterpretations into the brand’s ready-to-wear collections, bringing on the catwalk elegance, femininity, freshness and a lot of dynamic to their clothing.
One of their most talked about pieces, this season, is the Furrissima: a handbag made of fur, with a very comfortable and charming look to it. In places like Japan, Korea and China, this bag – literally cut out for fashionistas – is sold out. This has been such an absolute success, that the product got its own Instagram account (@furrissima), with a growing number of followers, that features iconic women wearing the bag (such as their high profile clientele). This particular bag is made of a mix of hair and patchwork of furs, resulting in a timeless ultrachic statement piece.
But, what about other essentials, besides the fur? Alongside these must-have items, Simonetta says that a woman must always invest in premium leather jackets and leather trousers. “I love leather trousers worn with sneakers! Other fundamental items are the small accessories, like a scarf or a little gilet to wear under a cashmere coat. Otherwise, for the grand soirée, a woman needs more important kind of furs, like the zibellino reinvented in an actual way with the addition of leather, like the python.”. Looking forward now to the harsh cold weather that’s about to come? I say that we are.
Gioia of Furs
An exclusive sit-down with Vladimiro Gioia: the progeny of a prominent Italian fur company spills the beans out on how his self-named brand is building a business of its own.
It was a chilly morning, in Milan. We arrived at San Pietro all’Orto – which is located within the “Quadrilatero Della Moda”, an area very well known for being Milan’s finest fashion district. The hostess, at the reception, punched a code number at the lift to send us to the 7th floor. This is a gorgeous venue with the view of Piazza Duomo, which is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to. After stepping out of the lift, immediately, Maria Chiara – who’s the brand’s PR – welcomed us very politely and took us to sit down with Vladimiro Gioia – an upscale fashion designer who’s well known by his impeccable craftsmanship Made in Italy, especially with leather and fur.
Among his exclusive clientele, Vladimiro dresses pop culture icons, such as Minzy (former member of the Korean girl band 2NE1), the formidable Anna Dello Russo (Editor At Large and Creative Consultant for Vogue Japan), Leaf Greaner (the Fashion Stylist), the Digital Influencers Yalda Golsharifi, Nadine Abdel Aziz and Alice Abdel Aziz, and Sabrina Ferilli (Italian Actress).
Now, the brand is expanding its reach to the US and other parts of the world. To understand this type of work and his creative process, we sat down with the creative director, Vladimiro Gioia.
So, how did you start your career as a fashion designer?
My career as a fashion designer has started in a very natural way, through my family’s company. We were already producing precious leather products, such as crocodile and python and furs as well. Later on, I have gained experience in some of the most important Italian laboratories. This way, I entered the “Made in Italy” world, gaining knowledge of the Italian handcraft. That is how my big passion was born and it has never left me.
Could you tell us something about your family business?
Yes, of course! My family business was producing fur articles for different fashion brands. I did my first steps inside the most important fashion ateliers in Italy, such as Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli. That’s how I got connected with my personal passion.
When was that?
I entered the world of handcrafts when I was only 12-13 years old. I used to attend some laboratories and workshops of the old tailors and couturiers that were telling me their stories, showing their creations. I fell in love with all this from the beginning and that passion goes along with me during my whole career.
Why do you prefer to focus on furs only?
Well, the world of luxury, where furs have always been an important part, has always inspired my fantasy, so it was natural. Despite my preferences, however, since this year I started to use silk, prints and dresses with embroidery, which helps me transition for my next collections.
Could you describe the Fall-Winter 16/17 woman collection?
The woman of my Fall-Winter 16/17 collection is extremely sophisticated. The marquetry is the base of the entire collection. It was inspired by the world of ebanisteria – cabinets of curiosities. I transformed a wood louver to leather and precious pieces. Every item of the collection was hand-cut, hand-sewn and hand-lined, following the marquetry processes.
What were the greatest moments you had with the artisans, through this experience?
Well, when we used to stay up until very late, focusing on our jobs, because we had to get everything finished. We used to stay awake until 5 am and you could see how everything was dark outside and only these little shops were lit. We kept on working together until the wee hours because we had to finish the last touches for the next day’s fashion show! I would like to share with you this little anecdote, regarding yesterday: the last pieces of the collection, that was presented today, were finished by the artisans at 1 am last night.
We really have to appreciate this kind of hard work…
Absolutely yes! Artisans are the heart of a collection and they have great importance in the fashion system.
Let’s talk now about business. During your time as an apprentice, on your parents’ workshop, what were the important disciples that they’ve coached you in this field?
Business is a very important field; today, the designer must know how to deal himself with the area of business. He can’t be only an artist; he must be a businessman too. I really keep in mind this concept in addition to my creativity; I should keep track of the product, its distribution, the label and its pricing. Also, I have to keep an eye on every single aspect of the business side. We have a well-supervised distribution; the Italian part is followed by my showroom and, for what concerns the American market, we have a partner from New York and we have another one from Paris who completes the distribution. In New York, the selling campaign has already started, in Milan, it’s starting in these days and in Paris, it will be the next week.
Where can we find your brand?
The distribution is in the most important department stores in the world, such as Joyce – in Hong Kong, Harrods – in London, Lane Crawford – in NY, Antonia – in Milan, Luisa Via Roma – in Firenze, Gente – in Roma, and Cascella – in Porto Cervo.
As you have noticed, the fashion world has changed. Do you believe in see now-buy now?
I think it could be a possibility for some productions, but not for all, especially in my world of manufacturing. There are some manufacturing processes that require a lot of time to reach how we define our success.
Why do women love fur?
I believe that fur (as a jewel) means luxury and it has great importance for women, but it’s not a real status symbol. I think that a woman is captured by the beauty aspect of a fur. It’s like when she sees a sparkling diamond.
How did you develop the ready-to-wear collection?
My intention is to expand the artisanal range. I have the good fortune of working with a lot of Italian artisans and I would like to get in touch with an increasing number of them. I research artisans and workshops from every part of Italy, just to learn the best possible way – the art ofMade in Italy. Also, I’m expanding my artisanal distribution chain. There are workshops with only 13-14 labourers, but with a big passion. They manage to produce products that the industries cannot do. When we buy an artisanal piece, handmade by an expert artisan, we don’t buy only an aesthetic piece, but we also purchase the precious time that the labourer used to make it. Sometimes, a piece requires hours and hours for its best results. Sometimes, it happens that a finished piece is not completely right, so it is taken apart to start from scratch, to reach the final perfection!
What are the advantages and the disadvantages of a market of only furs? How did you pass through it?
The main advantage is to purpose fur in a totally different and new perspective. The disadvantages are those, of course, not to be able to cover every need. There are people that don’t want a fur because they consider that piece very important, but there are also a lot of people with a minimal style – and I know I am the opposite of the minimal trend.
And what piece of advice you want to pass down to hopeful young designers that want to endeavour the same career?
It’s a suggestion that I really care about. A lot of designers, sometimes, lose their identity in favour of commerce. I recommend doing everything they feel in their heart because the designer has to express all he feels inside of him, without restrictions. When we purchase something from the fashion world, we buy the idea of a person, so the designer has to sell exactly who he is. I think the market appreciates that creativity. We have to risk for what we believe in, we have to risk for our dreams. It’s the most important thing!
Role: Writer & Editor
Vehicle: Jamaque Paradis