Italy is famous for its superb leatherware and Florence is at the very heart of the country’s leather industry. Florence has long been associated with leather and is currently the largest producer of leather items in Italy. This means that there is a dizzying selection of leather stores, markets and boutiques that you can visit to buy anything from a leather jacket, to a wallet, bag or belt.
In fact, there’s a saying in Florence that the number of leather markets and stores in the city are ‘e embarrassante’ which translates as ‘an embarrassment’! This can make finding the right place to buy a leather jacket, wallet, bag, belt or other items of leatherware quite difficult if you don’t already know your way around Florence.
Florentine Leather – A Long History Of Leading The World In Quality.
Florentine leather has special characteristics which means that as you wear a jacket, or use another item, it develops a ‘patina’ over time. When Florentine leather develops a patina this means that it softens and deepens in color with wear or use.
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The surrounding area and the city itself has an ancient history of leather working that dates back to antiquity and has played an important role in the local economy for centuries. Vital to the success of the Florentine leather industry is the River Arno. This provides a never ending supply of water to the city and nearby villages which was utilized for the leather tanning process, an essential part of creating long lasting products of all types.
The ancient traditions of leather working in Florence have developed to such a high degree that the quality is hard to beat and the range of items on offer is second to none. The leather produced in and around Florence is well known for being extremely supple and soft with plenty of textures, colors and embossments to choose from. This means if you’re looking for a new item of leatherware you’ll have a great choice of styles and are bound to find exactly what you’re looking for.
What To Look For When You’re Buying A Leather Item In Florence.
Florentine leather is among the very best in the world but you should still be fairly discerning when you’re browsing the leather shops and markets in the city. Firstly, you want to make sure that the item is made and sewn in Italy. This will guarantee the quality of the leather since there are quite strict regulations that oversee the industry in Italy.
Leather products that are made in Italy should always have the vaunted ‘Made in Italy’ or the ‘100% Italia’ label. To use these labels legally requires that the item was planned, manufactured and packaged within Italy. This will guarantee that the product is good and the craftsmanship is top quality.
Remember, that not all the leather used in the Florentine leather industry comes from Italy because some companies do import leather from other countries. However, this leather is carefully selected for its quality and is then used to manufacture the products within the country. These items would still qualify for the ‘Made in Italy’ label provided all the work took place in the country.
When you’re looking at a leather item then there’s a few ways that you can check it’s quality.
- Check the grade of the leather. There are 4 main grades of leather, which are full grain leather, top grain leather, genuine leather and lastly, bonded leather. The best grade is full grain leather and the worst is bonded leather.
- Smell the leather to see if it has the deep leathery smell that will tell you if it’s genuine leather rather than a good imitation of leather.
- Feel the item to check that the leather is supple and soft instead of weak, dry and brittle.
- Carefully examine the stitching on the seems to ensure that it’s well made and will be durable.
- Check inside any pockets on the item to see if they are too thin or whether they are well made and long lasting.
The Best Places To Buy Leather In Florence Italy.
There’s such a massive array of leather stores, market stalls and boutiques that it is nearly impossible to produce a fully comprehensive list of them all! However, to save you the time and trouble of sifting through the hundreds upon hundreds of vendors we’ve put together a list of the top 5 places for you to begin your search for leather in Florence.
These places are frequented by locals and tourists alike so you can be sure of getting a fair price and good quality products. This is something which you might not always find in the stores that cater primarily to tourists where items are often overpriced and of a poorer quality.
Pierotucci, Via Lungo L’Elma, 17, Florence.
This gorgeous leather store is located just outside of the Florentine city center and one of the things that makes it such a special place is the fact that you can watch the leather items being hand-made right in front of your eyes! The master leather maker in the store allows you to see his workshop where, with the help of assistants, he cuts and puts together the jackets, accessories and leather bags.
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Pierotucci has been making and selling leatherware and accessories for over 40 years and has built up one of the best reputations for quality and style in the competitive Florentine leather industry. You can buy some of the best made jackets for both sexes that are perfect for both daily wear and special occasions.
Casini Firenze, Piazza De Pitti, 30, Florence.
Renowned for its creative flair, Casini has a superb range of leather jackets for men and women. The customer service is attentive and helpful while giving you the time and space to browse the racks at your own pace. The store also sells wonderful bags and other leather items, including the beloved INFINITY bag which was originally inspired by the current owner, Jennifer Tattanelli’s great grandmother.
These unique bags are made by weaving the bags around a specially designed wooden box, following a complex mathematical formula. The results of the process are pretty stunning and to all intents and purposes, a work of fine art! One of the things that makes these bags so special is that there is no sewing involved in their creation. Each separate strip of leather is woven together to create a bag that’s almost like an optical illusion or a magic trick.
However, as well as stand out items such as the INFINITY bag, you can also buy more run of the mill items for everyday use including clothes and accessories. So, if you’re looking for a leather item then Casini Firenze should definitely be near the top of your list.
Bemporad, Via Calzaiuoli, 11/15/17B, Florence.
Located in the very heart of Florence, Bemporad has been serving the people of the city since it was founded almost 150 years ago, in 1885. The store started out by specializing only in menswear but has recently branched out to provide jackets and accessories for women as well.
Bemporad’s collections tend to be sleek and stylish but also include everyday items for streetwear and sports. Bemporad stocks designer fashion items as well as their own range of styles and creations. All of the items in the store are made in Italy and are great examples of top quality and superior craftsmanship.
Giorgio 1966 Leather Store, Via Del Canto Dei Nelli, 34, Florence.
Giorgio 1966 has an amazing selection of stylish cuts of jackets and leatherware that are usually a little more on the flashy side, rather than plain everyday wear. As well as their main store in Via del Canto dei Nelli, they also run a stall at the San Lorenzo Market behind the Medici Chapels which is also extremely popular with tourists and locals.
The store does have a good selection of classical clothing and accessory items but if you’re looking for something a little more unusual then Giorgio 1966 is a must visit. There are plenty of different textures and colors to choose from and although much of the leather is not actually Florentine in its origins the quality of craftsmanship is top of the range.
Benheart Firenze Stores.
With two main stores in Florence (Via Dei Calzaiuoli, 78, Florence And Via Della Vigna Nuova, 85, Florence), Benheart is a new player on the scene but has wowed their customers with superb quality and expertly chosen big brand designer leather jackets, wallets, bags, belts and shoes. Over the last 5 years, since they first opened their doors, Benheart has gone from strength to strength selling items under the 100% Italia label.
As well as the 2 shops in Florence, Benheart has also opened stores in Rome, Verona, Milan and Tokyo to supply their cosmopolitan clientele with high quality items that are right on the cutting edge of the latest trends in fashion and style.
Shopping In The Heart Of Italy’s Leather Industry.
Florence has long been at the very center of the Italian leather industry and through the generations of craftsmen they have honed their skills to a fine art. This means that if you’re in Florence, as a tourist or Expat, it would be crazy to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity to pick up a few leather items that you’ll be able to treasure for years to come.
Of course, it can be tempting to buy leather items from backstreet stalls where prices will be low but so will the quality! Therefore, it’s always better to shop with a trusted Florentine store that has built up a solid reputation to ensure that the very best quality of leather and workmanship has gone into anything you purchase.