Fast fashion’s popularity continues to grow. On one hand, it entices companies — big and small— with its low cost of production. On the other, it makes it easy for buyers to fill their wardrobes to the brim with cheap price tags.
However, its rising market lacks — and may forever — one thing: exceptional quality. Why? Because fast fashion focuses on speedy mass production instead of paying attention to details.
Luxury brands may have different creative paths, but they seem to share one thing in common: their preference for artisanal manufacturers. They believe there is no substitute for the quality skilled artisans bring to the production of their designs.
Here are some thoughts shared by the heads of luxury brands on the value of artisan craftsmanship and how it should continue to be passed down to future generations.
Diego Della Valle, president and CEO of Tod’s
Della Valles’ grandfather made shoes and sold them in markets across Central Italy. His father expanded the family business and opened a small shoe-making factory. With the right marketing strategies, Della Valle went on to transform Tod's into a global luxury brand but, he never forgot the essence of the business: artisans.
He always emphasizes that Tod’s success comes not only from the quality of the materials used, but also from the skills of its artisans. According to the Financial Times, he believes there is a “pressing need … to continue to encourage young artisan apprentices.”
Brunello Cucinelli, designer and founder of his eponymous brand
Cucinelli is aware of the changing times but encourages his artisans to keep in mind traditional skills. He wants them to embrace technological advances in the fashion industry while preserving and keeping alive the value of artisanal craftsmanship.
Cucinelli says he wants a new generation of artisans “that not only masters technology and uses it in a conscious, careful and balanced manner, but is also willing to open a good book and address the greatest souls of the past.”
He even established The School of Solomeo where courses in mending, darning, cutting, assembly, and tailoring are offered.
Carlo Mazzi, chairman and executive director of Prada
Prada and other luxury brands have recently opened more and more factories in Italy thanks to the country's prestige in leather manufacturing. However, the companies are drawn by more than just the leather goods. They want to harness the power of the Italian artisans.
“The value of a manufacturing company is not based on the plant and machinery, but mainly in the know-how of the workers,” says Mazzi.
The fashion brand has also established academies in its factories to train new artisans alongside masters of the fashion trade.
Serge Brunschwig, chief executive of Fendi
Back in 2014, LVHM — parent company of fashion houses like Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Givenchy — created the Institut des Métiers d’Excellence. The institute aims to nurture and develop artisan skills in the fashion industry by offering training programs in jewelry, shoemaking, and clothing manufacturing.
Brunschwig thinks “this is an extraordinary initiative, as training artisans is essential for our [fashion] industry.”
LVHM also offers an open house event called Les Journées Particulières. The event shows the public a behind-the-scenes look into the artisanal manufacturing process of the company. People can go from workstation to workstation and watch artisans process creating clothes, shoes, bags, and watches.
Brunschwig says one of Fendi’s motives for hosting the event is to spark young people’s interest for learning the trade. He will no reveal the last names of anyone who attends or works at the event in order to protect Fendi’s ideas and artisans — current or future — from competitor poaching.
Whether it’s making luxury or everyday fashion, the attention to detail artisans provide won’t ever be matched. In fact, the need for their skills will continue to grow as people realize fast fashion’s poor quality isn’t worth its cheap price — it also seriously damages the environment.
Artisanal manufacture used to be considered an exclusive feature of luxury brands. Nowadays, anyone can start their own artisan-made brand. Platforms like MakersValley give anyone the chance to connect with master artisans who make high-end quality garments at budget-friendly prices.
If you want your clothing line or brand to have outstanding quality, ethical production standards, and maybe even sell at “Made in Italy” prices, artisan-made is the way to go.
Join MakersValley now and connect with our wide network of master Italian artisans and manufacturers.