I know this might sound cliché, but since my visit to Gucci’s Casellina back in September, every bag from the Italian luxury label I’ve laid eyes on brings back memories of that tour I had, walking down the halls of this modern complex situated in the Italian town of Casellina (and thus its name) where their most iconic bags, like the Bamboo, for example, are given life.
It is also the place where designs are tested and prototypes are made, so within its white-washed walls, I went from department to department, akin to my version of Wonka’s Chocolate Factory where I saw everything that went on behind closed doors.
And so it began, following my guide who started the tour in an immense room filled with every imaginable kind of leather known to man, from exotics like croc and python to calfskin leathers in different finishes and even printed canvases covered with the GG monogram. Besides receiving new leathers that are eventually made into bags, this room also serves as an archive where samples of every single leather (or canvas) used since the start of this facility are kept for future reference.
Next was the cutting room, where craftsmen painstakingly cut up the leathers into the exact shapes needed for each bag. Nothing is automated nor was there a single robot in sight; all the craftsmen really required were firm and steady hands, a sharp cutting tool and of course, years of experience. Exotics like alligator and crocodile skins are also buffed here for that extra shine, which was amazing given how medieval the pedal-operated machine looked.
Then there’s the room where you’ll find all the hardware, from clasps and D-rings to every metal bit and bob you can think of that goes onto a bag, thrilling my inner magpie as I ran my fingers over everything shiny. It’s also the room where you’ll find the sticks of bamboo in the rawest possible form before they are ‘burnt’, bent into shape and then varnished with an organic shellac harvested from the lac insect.
Last but not least, and perhaps the largest at Gucci Casellina, the room where everything from the cut leathers and hardware parts are collated and sorted before the artisans bring the bags (and SLGs) to life. From the iconic Bamboo bags to speciality pieces that are made up of exotics, custom orders, like the Leather Handcrafted Shoe Trunk which I blogged about previously, are also made here.
In other words, the culmination of my tour and quite possibly the best part, as I witnessed bags being assembled, a stitch here, a fold there, before it’s all packed into the deep brown dust bags and ready to be sent out. Which on hindsight doesn’t make my first line sound that cliché after all, especially with that enriching experience now under my belt. A Gucci bag isn’t just a bag anymore, but something that comes with a lot of dedication, planning, skilled craftsmanship behind each piece.