Naples is not only famous for its pizzas, but also for its sartorial style and its traditions, notably glove-making. The Neapolitan art of making gloves has existed at least for three centuries.
Every day across the city, while pizza makers – locally called pizzaiolos - light their ovens and hand-form thousands of pizzas, glove maker Giovanni Ricciardiello, who has been plying his trade for 45 years, enters his workshop located in the north of the city, and after a strong coffee, starts working. He is soon joined by the rest of the family, including his two sons, Francesco, Mimmo and daughter Flora, who are part of this family business along with two more workers.
L'Artigiano del Guanto (ADG) is a craft workshop founded in Naples in 2016, and one of the few companies still making gloves entirely by hand.
“My father wakes up at 6:30 and at 7:20 the door of our laboratory is already open and the first morning coffee is ready,” describes Francisco who is in charge of marketing and of promoting the business.
By 08:00, the first bucket of water to soften the skins is full and Giovanni starts selecting the leather he is going to work with. Showing his hands which are as tanned and fine as his workshop’s leather Giovanni explains that knowing how to select the right piece of leather is what makes a good glove maker.
The first phase of processing is to moisten the skins by wrapping them in a canvas cloth, previously immersed in the bucket of water for a few seconds. Then, the skin is moved on to the counter and cut into rectangles of 33x33cm each that will later be given the right shape.
There is no less than 15 steps from cutting the leather to the finished glove. Leather is to be stretched, cut, stitched and finished – each stage by hand. Each glove is thoroughly inspected, a detailed process that ensures high quality.
Between 4,000 to 7,500 pairs -- with peaks of 11,000 pairs – are produced by ADG each year.
Francesco points out that most of the expensive lambskin leather used in making gloves comes from Ethiopia. But they also source Lambskin Leather from South America, especially Peru as well as Deer Leather from North America. Linings are usually cashmere, silk or wool, all of them locally sourced in Italy.
Mimmo, a graduate from Naples’ Accademia delle Belle Arti a Napoli is the company’s designer. Passionate about contemporary art he has added a modern aesthetic to the recent collections: daring, bright colors, embroidered and sewn motifs, subtle accessories differentiate ADG’s products from other traditional Napoli gloves.
Another unique trait of ADG’s gloves is the names and subjects of their design. Due to Francesco’s passion for history, products are named after historical figures, such as a men’s glove named “Winston” in reference to Winston Churchill.
“I like to dedicate our collections to people who have given their best to our planet,” Francesco justifies. Yet, the 2019/2020 winter collection, which will be unveiled at the coming Fashion Access in Hong Kong next March will be dedicated to… fantasy and comics characters like the fluffy, white men’s gloves named Buzz Lightyear and the futuristic looking women’s gloves named Amy Wong.
ADG’s outstanding dedication to quality, detail and style has attracted well-known high fashion brands such as Armani, Coccinelle, Giorgio Armani, Max Mara and Pinko who are among their regular customers.
For their first participation in Fashion Access, ADG hopes to attract Asian brands and raise appreciation of the ways traditional know-how can be successfully coupled with trends and innovation.