The history of leather goods is deeply intertwined with the history of Italy and Tuscany in particular.
Craftsmanship, on the other hand, to become excellent needs to be rooted in the history of a place and refined over the centuries. Of places rich in knowledge and creativity in Italy there are. Without them in fact, to this day the Made in Italy brand would not have been born.
As a result of passion and craftsmanship, Made in Italy has turned workshop talent into an industry capable of making products of beauty and quality and expanding throughout Italy.
One region, in particular, has played a key role in the development of this brand: Tuscany. Made in Tuscany was born not many years ago, a brand that does not replace the Made in Italy brand but represents an additional guarantee. The manufacturing sector in Tuscany is a very precious heritage. Each province holds treasures of wisdom derived from human skill and the materials offered by the territory. Florence in this case excels from the remaining Tuscan cities in the leather sector.
As early as the 1300s, the city of Florence was renowned for the production of leather, both in terms of the quality of the tanning and the quality of the artifacts. Handicrafts in the Tuscan capital have always had a very important impact on the economic and political life of the city. Among the various craftsmen’s guilds that saw the light of day in early medieval Florence were the Arte de’ Cuoiai e Galigai, dedicated to tanning and leather production.
In the mid-1100s, artisan guilds began to be established in Florence that would be destined, in the following centuries, to play a leading role in the city’s cultural and artistic political evolution. These guilds called themselves Arts and there were as many as twenty-one: seven Major Arts and seven Minor Arts. Among the 14 minor arts, those that were most prominent were the Art of the Beccai and the Art of the Cuoiai and Galigai, which were closely linked. To them belonged tanners, tanners, sellers, and gilders of leather and hide.
The activity of tanning was practiced upstream and downstream of Ponte Vecchio where hides were soaked in the Arno. The art of “tanning leather” was handed down from generation to generation. The famous saying “learn the art and put it aside” refers precisely to the importance of learning a craft skill and then putting it to good use. The art de’ Galigai, and everything to do with leather production was moved to the vicinity of Piazza Santa Croce, right next to the fourteenth-century walls occupying two streets: via Delle Conce and dei Conciatori. The latter represented an area with strong popular connotations. Although it was not the healthiest place to live, due to the large quantities of urine used to tan the hides, it was nevertheless of great importance to the artisan tradition that over the centuries has been such a boast of the Florentine area that it has achieved a leading role throughout the country.
Tanning, born in the mists of time, has come down to us thanks to the craftsmanship handed down from father to son; leather, vegetable-tanned leather, and its artifacts have become true ambassadors of Made in Italy in the world, not only for their beauty and value but because they transmit the values of our people and our territory.
At Zer0W, we proudly carry on the Florentine and Tuscan tradition day after day, considering every waste of the production process a piece of “savoir-faire” that slowly until today has evolved and been handed down over time. That is why collecting waste for us means collecting history.