My friend Shan has a shop in Brisbane called Camargue that stocks wonderful labels from all over the world. As well as beautiful clothes from Easton Pearson, Dries Van Noten, Nom D and many others she sells Guidi shoes. Ruggero Guidi’s leather business is based in Pescia, not far from Bagni di Lucca. Shan stayed with me after a buying trip to Paris and we set off for Pescia to have a look at this business which has been in operation since 1896.
Guido Guidi, Giovanni Rossellini and Gino Ulivo were master tanners and shoemakers. They joined forces in 1896 to produce premium leather products. Ruggero Guidi carries on the tradition today. He shuns mass production to create leather goods that are one of a kind. He produces soft, supple leather in exquisite colours for other manufacturers.
His hand made shoes are truly special. Each pair is different. Only natural dies are used and each pair is indivually coloured and styled. They are not the conventional image of polished Italian style, but have a sturdy, rugged style of their own. They last forever and only get better with age.
We began our visit in the Pescia office where we were greeted by Alessia and Taro and the new puppy.
There were only a few pairs of shoes on display as the showroom is having a bit of a makeover.
Next stop was the nearby leather tanning factory. The workrooms used to be right in Pescia, but the growing population forced a move further out. The wonderful old building is now being turned into other things. Part of it is a gym and the rest is waiting to be restored. The new factory is quite large. I found the process of leather making to be fascinating.The machinery was very interesting.
I have no idea what most of it was, but it was a hive of activity out there.
We then went into another area where the shoes were being coloured. The shoes are hand made in another factory in Vinci ( of Leonardo fame) and brought to Pescia to be finished.
The next bit was the best of all. We went back to the office and were taken down into the cellar to see the archives.
Back in the office there was a wonderful photo of the hands of a leather worker.
Thank you Alessia and Taro for showing us the wonderful world of Guidi. The next post will be about lovely Pescia and the excellent enoteca they took us to.
If you live in Brisbane you can buy Guidi shoes at Camargue at Emporium in Fortitude Valley.