Spurred by their ability to transform ideas into coveted merch, Italian brands continue to develop their reputations and labor-intensive artisanal traditions.
This story first appeared in the February 21, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But just because there is a wealth of heritage in Italian artistry, it doesn’t mean the techniques are all old-school. Concealed rather than revealed, many of these novelty techniques look ahead, adding value to each piece with hundreds of hours of work, surgical precision, months of testing and studying, executed with fine handwork.
WWD takes a closer look at the processes that characterize the new season, from top-notch luxe details to round-the-clock comfort.
Fendi has rejuvenated its iconic Astuccio fur, originally invented by Karl Lagerfeld for fall 1971. A symbol of artisanal expertise, represented by its shape that resembles a case, Astuccio went dégradé for pre-fall 2014, thanks to the exclusive “let-out” technique that requires more than 100 hours of work.
Each long, thin strip is hand-cut with an angular fish-bone V shape, positioned according to precise calculations to form degrading shades and, lastly, hand-stitched together in a staggered manner to give the fur the desired shape.
At first glance, it looks like a gorgeous crocodile bag. Yet, it conceals a luxurious intimate side that stems from the “agatatura,” a new process performed on alligator and crocodile that adds a slight rotundness to each scale, recalling the cabochon cut of Bulgari’s stones.
Five key steps are involved in the process: bathing the skin to soften it up; nailing it onto wood panels to stretch; rubbing it 60 times under a machine mounted with an agate; drying it at 400°F on a hot slab to spark the cabochon effect, and applying by hand the small cardboard elements onto the back of every individual scale.
Forging ahead with its hallmark “breathing” patent, Geox has developed the Side Transpiration System, a technique applied to the new Zanna Bianca footwear range of urbanized hiking boots, which marries waterproof protection to an elevated thermal insulation.
In development for 12 months, the STS technology was created specifically for those markets hit by extremely frigid winters, requiring extra thermal protection against the cold ground. Hence, the pores are positioned on the side of the shoe rather than on the sole, granting more freedom during outdoor activity.
Reclaimed leather specialist Regenesi continues to update its Fruit Bag, developing new dyeing techniques to introduce two fall colors, purple and azure. Known for its quirky high-end fashion and home accessories made with reclaimed leather and other eco-friendly elements such as rubber, Regenesi mixes innovation with tradition. A playful variation on paper fruit bags, each is certified and one-of-a-kind because the pigments used for the coloring give a different texture to every bag.
Borbonese’s classic design detail — the partridge eye dotlike effect hand-applied on suede bags — is getting a technological upgrade for fall.
Treating fine Entrefino lamb suede with a rubberized coating, bags will have a distinct tactile touch and look, and will also be waterproof.
The luxury fashion and accessories house also tapped a metallic paint-anodizing technology from the automobile industry to color metal hardware shades of deep red and coffee to match the hues of supple calf bags.
“It’s a complicated chemical process, but the finished effect is really beautiful,” said Giuseppe di Nuccio, Borbonese’s chief executive officer. “Innovation and technology have to be the motor of a company today, it’s an instrument that helps us realize the ideas we dream up.”
Creative director Stefano Pilati elevated the double-construction technique to a new gentrified modernity, creating an outerwear silhouette featuring integrated scarves, or neck pieces that are an extension of the garment.
Made by bonding two fabrics such as cashmere, vicuna and Shetland (either matching or mismatched), the double fabrics are linked internally by a thin thread that remains invisible from the outside. By manually opening the margin of the doubled fabric, it is possible to create interlocking seams that are then rejoined by hand, offering a textured look that maintains an intimate and luxurious feel.