Are Italian Handbags still Handmade?

In the age of mass production and ever advancing technology, is it realistic to expect handbags to still be handmade? Has craftsmanship been taken over completely by commercialization and never ending ways to cut costs? Fortunately, no.

Craftsmanship is More Relevant than Ever

You could be forgiven that with mass production techniques and a mind-set that often values a logo over quality that craftsmanship has diminished in importance. But you would be wrong. The desire for well-built quality bags is stronger than ever, and the kind of quality that only handmade producers can provide is in high demand.

Italians still do it handmade

The reality is that top handbag designers still use handmade techniques. They may have progressed from backstreet workshops in Florence or Naples but the techniques are still mostly handmade including cutting, weaving and stitch-up. Italian handbag designers still use artisanal experts instead of production lines, who spend days creating each bag. It is this time factor (as well material cost) that makes producing handmade bags so expensive, which is reflected in the cost. The next time you see a bag that costs over $1000, it may not seem so extravagant when you consider that a team of craftsmen have spent days making it.

Bottega Veneta

This classic Italian handbag designer is a shining example of craftsmanship being carried into the 20th century. It has its own school dedicated to training the next generation of handbag artisans, educating them in the handmade techniques of cutting, stitching and weaving. Production is housed in a 19th century atelier that, whilst a far cry from backstreet workshops, is surprisingly non-commercial, non-industrial and reassuringly reminiscent of a bygone age.

Fear Not, Handmade isn’t Going Way

Bottega Veneta, having moved to more mass produced, logo focused items in the early 2000s was facing bankruptcy. It only turned round its fortunes by reinstating its artisanal approach, by reengaging their craftsmen who, for some time, were left underutilised. The artisanal element and handmade approach has been vindicated as not only higher quality, but a viable business model with recent years seeing record profits. Thanks to the demand for quality, handmade production has a safe and sustainable future.

Even Huge Brands Still Make Handbags by Hand

Even huge Italian brands like Gucci still use handmade techniques. The Italians are unrivalled in this artisanal approach, with no other country coming close to claiming such craftsmanship. Yes, you will pay (a lot) for handmade Italian brands, but the quality is simply unrivalled.

Recent years have seen a revival in handmade products, with craftsmanship becoming increasingly favoured over logos. Bottega Veneta, despite being a coveted brand, produce handbags without logos, the hallmark being supreme quality and the identifier being incomparable design. This attitude towards design is what distinguished the Italian designers in the first place, and is still what makes them special and far superior to their mass produced counterparts. This mentality may seem somewhat risky commercially as it is one that places design first and consumer demand second but we are fortunate that demand for artisanal quality is sufficiently strong that Italian handbag designers like Bottega Veneta, Gucci and others will be around for a long time to come.

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