What does Italy remind to non-Italians? One of the best countries for having vacation, pizza & pasta, handsome men, the romantic and historical city Rome, great renaissance artists… This list goes on and for sure fashion will be included. Being in a wonderful nature, the spirit of Italia has always cherished beauty and aesthetics. We had this opportunity to have an interview with an Italian brand, Maffei who presents life their unique Italian leather bags. Each are like beautiful details left in minds after wonderful summer vacation, and are sustainable, why?
Valerio Freda answers,
“This is our core philosophy; by producing a bag that can withstand time we are restricting the environmental impact of our activity.”
Could you please tell about how Maffei came to life in 1978?
Maffei was born in Solofra, a town in the province of Avellino, Italy, a place renowned for leather tanning since the time of the Romans and the Samnites (6th century b. C.E.-62 b. C.E.). The vast availability of high-quality feedstock triggered the imagination of designers and stylists alike, thus giving Maffei the opportunity of exploring its capabilities. With this as a background, Maffei was born, undoubtedly a true Made in Italy brand when it comes to fashion, particularly fashion accessories.
What is your inspiration as you approach your color palette?
Actually, clients decide the colors of the bags, not Maffei. By doing so, our clients express their personal preferences without being influenced by current trends. This is the reason why to the Maffei Classic line, which includes timeless, and never-discontinued models and colors, we have added the Maffei Ad hoc line since Maffei is committed to giving its clients the possibility of choosing their own bag among more than fifty different leather colors. The fact that all our bags are handmade allows us to address all kinds of needs, something that cannot be addressed by a more traditional and set-model production. Indeed, our goal is to make each Maffei bag the Italian expression of style and handmade design while still addressing the preferences of our clients.
What do you think are the main features of your brand that your clients consider unique to Maffei?
I am proud to say that Maffei can be considered a true Made in Italy product from the start, or rather, from the raw material that we use. Our leather is purchased only from Italian suppliers. This gives us the guarantee that the leather was tanned in Italy; hence, we know that all laws were followed from start to end. All other raw material is provided by Italian companies that follow the strictest rules when it comes to quality control and production. Indeed, Maffei ensures that its high-quality raw material is processed in order to send a message: the Italian style. In order to do so, Maffei relies on Italian stylists who draw upon Italian sites, mores, and feelings their inspiration and ideas. Hence, Maffei has chosen not to go global since it firmly believes that, by doing so, it will preserve its own style all over the world. This does not mean that Maffei is not showcasing its style internationally. For this reason, Maffei has registered its style in Italy and the rest of the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the United States, and Hong Kong. Our priority is to manufacture a product completely handmade that showcases our experience, of which we are extremely proud and strive to safeguard jealously. This is the reason why our Italian style can be seen in our handmade products, the calling cards of expertise and painstaking work. Furthermore, the fashion accessories that Maffei creates, be they decorative or structural (as in the case of zippers), are first designed and elaborated by Italian designers and then they are handmade by our expert team of workers. The synergy between bag and fashion accessories are the calling card of a product that, from the start, show the meticulousness of its design and composition. Indeed, the very essence of our creativeness and talent is the Maffei bag line Unica, a limited-number production of bags that highlight the jewel-like nature of our product. Metals and precious metals, keenly combined, make Unica the reason why customers should want to invest in time.
How does Maffei respond to this question: what is a bag for a woman?
Many women, especially younger women, are attracted by bags produced by famous and prestigious brands since they believe that such bags could help them express their identity, especially their social status, whereas the quality and style of these bags take a back seat. By doing so, they are empowering the brand and not themselves; hence, the bag loses its very quality of being a fashion accessory, only to become the “desired”, yet inexpressive, object. The philosophy behind Maffei, instead, is very different: the goal is to produce a bag that, first and foremost, is a witness to Italian excellence when it comes to raw material, handcraft, and style while still being a fashion accessory, or rather, an instrument showcasing one’s identity through elegance. In other words, women who choose a Maffei bag should not hear the compliment “what a beautiful bag!” but rather, “what a beautiful woman!”
Do you have an idea of the life span of your products once they are sold?
The attention in selecting our suppliers and mainly the use of excellent, high-quality raw material allow Maffei to create a bag that can keep unchanged through time its manufactured and stylistic characteristics. This is our core philosophy: by producing a bag that can withstand time we are restricting the environmental impact of our activity. Indeed, elegance does not need a sudden change of fashion accessories, but rather, it requires a different combination of the latter, thus being able to express the feelings of the moment. In other words, fashion should teach us how to mix and match rather than substitute items since elegance should not be an only esthetic expression but also a virtuous manifestation of oneself. Indeed, consumerism does not follow this logic.
Leather production can cause pollution if not done correctly. How can you guarantee that the materials that you use are environmentally friendly?
Maffei purchases its leather from Italian suppliers. This guarantees that the leather is tanned in Italy according to international rules and regulations; hence, we know that all laws were followed from start to end. All other raw material is provided by Italian companies that follow the strictest rules when it comes to quality control and production. The main goal is to guarantee to everyone, our partners and our clients alike, the highest levels of safety and the lowest impact on the environment.
What is your approach to the new innovations in sustainable material, as in the case of vegan leather?
From the start, Maffei has been focusing on finding technical solutions that could guarantee the use of sustainable material while having a low impact on the environment. Our ecological commitment has evolved into a complex and ambitious project: reutilizing our material. Reusing raw material that has been already utilized is a task that cannot be improvised, but rather, it implies a financial and energy commitment since it requires more resources than when employing unused raw material. Our collection Ethica follows this philosophy. Indeed, its bags are made of recycled leather. These bags are made from discontinued products which still maintain the quality and beauty of raw material. Generally speaking, age-old, discontinued leather is not usually suitable for recycling. The quality and especially the technique used in manufacturing a Maffei bag have allowed us to overcome this problem. Almost all the Maffei models are made of well-designed bags. Indeed, they are the result of the combination of two layers of leather: the outer and the inner, the typical Maffei “red” color used in all its bags. In other words, a Maffei bag is born from the union of two, different leather bags. The particular structure of the bag has also allowed Maffei to reuse older leather while maintaining excellent esthetic features. The end result of this arduous yet exciting task is the production of a high-quality and elegant bag, a bag that was made with love. Reutilizing unusable leather allows us to create a bridge between animalists and non-animalists, thus eliminating drastically the use of new leather while limiting drastically the environmental impact by recycling raw material that otherwise would remain unused.
What would the new normal be after the pandemic?
This pandemic should be a moment of reflection, especially in fashion. Most definitively, social interaction will change, quantitatively as well as qualitatively. Hence, our hope is that fashion could express with courage virtuous messages, thus being again an instrument that highlights the capabilities of creating and devising new ideas hailing from all countries while respecting their cultures and mores. On the other hand, we hope that fashion could be used as an instrument to communicate with people while, as said before, respecting everyone’s identity. Therefore, I believe that the right equilibrium between quality and price seems to be the magic formula for the future.