THE MAN WITH THE MAGIC HANDS
With over 40 years experience as a Master leather-maker and hailing from Europe; working between Italy, Greece and Australia, we thank our lucky stars that we found our gem of a leather maker.
We know, we said the l-word. Leather.
But having led production teams for some of the country’s largest handbag labels and managing a myriad of facets in business, we couldn't walk away. And really, what woman doesn't think she can change a man - you know we love a challenge.
We sat down for a quick chat with this incredibly talented man. And this is what he had to say.
What is your background and how long have you been a leather marker?
I was born in Europe and have over 40 years experience of design and handbag making. I've been styling, finishing, designing and making bags that whole time.
It's very unusual to find somebody to do all of these things, except in Europe. From my experience, you have to be from Europe to do it all, because that's where handbags started. That's where the leather making schools started. So that's how I started.
My family also works in handbags, with my older brother and I sharing the same passion as professional handbag makers.
Where did you learn how to be a leather maker?
Primarily, in Europe; Greece. That's where I went to school and studied leather-making. I also travelled and worked in Italy. From this experience, I learnt a lot of new ways to make and handle handbags. Every country has their own philosophy and way of doing things, but the basics are the same. It's the 20% difference that makes it unique and special to each country.
Is this [leather-making] still your passion?
Yes. I can honestly say that after 40 years, this is still my passion. I spend every day doing it and want to keep doing it.
How has the industry changed over the last five years?
In Australia specifically, it has completely changed in the last five years. The leather trade in Australia has gone, due to everything now being imported and no longer being produced onshore. We don't have schools here anymore and there is no passion for the industry like there still is in Europe. In Europe, they love to make handbags, but here, no one has that passion.
Many years ago, there were schools in Australia for those interested in the trade. But these are no longer around, and the Government no longer funds or supports the industry.
Learning the leather trade is like any other university degree, it's hard. You don't study for a year and then you're a leather-maker. You spend many years learning, and continue to learn after you've graduated.
How many other leather-makers do you know working here in Australia?
From who I know of, I think there's one in Melbourne and one in Sydney. But if you were to ask me if there were many professional leather-makers left in Australia with a focus on handbags, then I would say [laughs] it's just me.
What are you most excited to see come out of the fashion industry moving forwards.
A long time ago, I was told by a bag maker to put all of my patterns in a box and to never thrown them out. This is because every year, you will go back into the box and reuse those patterns.
Fashion goes backward and forwards all the time.
The handbags you pick up now, if you notice, are 40's and 50's styles. They are stiff bags, they stand up and are structured.
What were your initial thoughts when we came to you with the Pinatex?
I thought it was something very different and a material I had never worked with before. I have worked for many years with leather and this is the first time I've worked with something non-leather. These are the new ideas coming out of the industry, its exciting, and why it is still my passion.
When investing in an Ahimsa Collective piece, you can be sure that our leather-makers attention to detail, intricate workmanship and ambition to produce only the best quality, is carried throughout every stage of production.