In the interim since my last post we made a visit to the Gucci factory just outside of Florence right as Pitti Uomo was going on. The Gucci factory is unlike any other we have traveled to (D&G, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace ALIAS, Zegna, Moreschi, Ducati, etc.) because it is so organized and yet so oriented to the craftsman. Each work station was personalized for the individual operating there, without being precious or distracting. The most surprising thing I learned was not the cost of the albino alligator skins from post-Katrina Louisiana, but rather the production process of the bags themselves. Gucci is known for having highly structured bags, unlike their sister company Bottega Veneta, whose form melts like butter in your hands. The inner component of this firm structure? Newspaper! I kid you not, if you were to cut open your grandmother's Gucci bag, you would find a piece of history archived inside. Newspaper acts as a support much like paper mache, and as a former student of architecture who once formed bricks out of nothing but shredded newspaper and water, I can attest to its strength.
Moving on from the Gucci factory itself, we went down the street to the ground floor of the house of a family who has worked for Gucci for three generations. They are basically subcontractors, but work solely for the Gucci Group. With the exception of Bottega Veneta bags, which are crafted specifically in Vicenza by hands that have been trained in their dedicated school, the rest of the companies from the Group often have their precious bags assembled and finished in this work studio. At various craftsmens' stations, we met family members and employees of various stages in their careers working on everything from YSL's Y-Mail clutch, to the Alexander McQueen skull-clasp clutch, as well as the Gucci Indy Bag. Needless to say, the design does not occur on site, nor do bag designers work for multiple brands. However, one can immediately see the benefits in the supply chain of having manufacturing synergies between your brands- in this case, having technicians and craftsmen who are highly specialized and capable of creating an immaculate handmade product for the various brands within the Gucci Group.
After seeing so many "Made in Italy" labels operating overseas, it's nice to see a brand that stands behind their label. As a single bag can take up to thirty hours just to assemble, the craftsmen are truly experts at working with various leathers (not for Stella, of course) and other materials that might come their way. It was a great process to witness!