Comparing Gianni’s Classic Italian Leather Keychains

As the years go by and we realize that Gianni has been making his leather keychains for 30 years by now, it is not surprising to see them in shops everywhere around the world. It is also not surprising that they invariably seem to be better than the “other” key chains, especially the blatant imitations.

Classic Italian Leather Keychains

Gianni’s three most classic Italian leather key chains are the Snaplink, the Giamaicano, and the Classico.

That long experience coupled with Gianni’s love for the products is what makes the difference and ultimately sets them apart. The Tuscan vacchetta leather he uses has become really expensive and Gianni’s keychains, although not dirt cheap, are priced low for the quality. I see keychains by Bottega Veneta advertised for $300 and I scratch my head because those keychains are really boring compared to Gianni’s. Clearly there are people willing to pay for a brand name. What we offer is the highest quality for the right price: a value proposition that appeals to me a lot.

There are three keychains that I would describe as classic: the Snaplink, the Giamaicano, and the Classico. Each has compelling features, what they share in common is that they all can clip onto either your belt or belt buckle.

The Snaplink is the most popular and also my favorite. I clip it to my belt buckle, it is designed to look like a belt with buckle and the buckle actually works–making it easy to add and remove rings. So it is very convenient at a valet or when dropping your car off for service. I had to replace mine after exactly 10 years because the clip slipped off. The leather was still in great shape.

The Giamaicano is what I consider the most stylish because the braid is awesome to the touch. It might be nicer than the Snaplink but it doesn’t have the valet feature. The clip is the easiest to use inside a bag with a keychain d-ring.

The Classico comes in a wider array of colors including my favorite, blue. It is the only one that can clip around a belt. This is great when your pockets and belt buckles are not in close proximity. Because you are able to choose exactly where the Classico will hang you usually can tuck your keys away.

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Peroni Leather Is Unlike Any Other

We just added a couple of Peroni products to our catalog in 2015 after drooling over their wonderful products for years. Their products are so unique that we are not sure if our customers will notice them, yet they are so unique that they are a perfect fit for Marcopoloni: Peroni is a family in Florence that has taken the Florentine leather crafting tradition to new heights–exactly what we want to tell the world about.

Leather Eyeglasses Case

Peroni leather embodies the most luxurious construction we have ever seen.

What I like the most about Peroni is how their exceptional skill to make hardened leather products out of a single cut of leather–thus requiring no stitching–results in products that are a cut (or two) above the rest. It is quite possible that we carry the OTTICA because I needed an eyeglasses case for my reading glasses. It is hard for me to pass up on an opportunity to get something that I need from one of our artisans. So now I can tell you how it has worked out. First of all: function. The OTTICA provided the much needed protection for my eyeglasses, which I was carrying around unprotected. Besides the peace of mind that it provided, the OTTICA became a perfect extension of my style and a reliable helper. It has a place in my briefcase (the SANTARELLI), it sits nicely on my desk, it provides a reminder to pack it at the end of the day with my glasses inside (otherwise I seem to invariably forget about my glasses every few days).

But the OTTICA does a lot more. Its quality makes me feel that it will last me well over ten years and that I might pass it on to the next person in need of eye-help in my family. It looks good, or should I say fabulous? So when it sits next to my SLIPPING TIME clock and my GOTO SBRUFFO Murano glass tumbler it is right at home. When I pick it up it feels different from Campomaggi or Dionigi leather, but just as luxurious. Opening it and closing it reminds me of the attention to detail by the craftsman: let’s not forget that this is leather without hinges, not hard, manufactured plastic.

Leather Eyeglasses Case

The OTTICA at rest, still protecting my glasses.

I haven’t tried the rest of the vast Peroni catalog, but as I seek order and peace in my life I am sure that many of them will call to me in the future. I encourage you to try them out. At present, we also carry the FERRO coin purse.

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The One Campomaggi Briefcase I Couldn’t Live Without

We have been carrying Campomaggi for over six years now. The decision to add Campomaggi to the Marcopoloni catalog was very easy for Emi and I: how could we pass on bags that were so unique and that represented the value of quality craftsmanship like the best of them?  I still remember when I first saw the Santarelli in the Campomaggi warehouse before the offices were renovated: my impression was that it was dripping with personality.

Daniele's favorite Campomaggi briefcase

My Santarelli in broad daylight shows how different pieces of leather absorbed the dye differently

Yet, even in those days, the Santarelli was expensive and I figured that I wouldn’t have the patience to use the real buckles that function as closures (since then Campomaggi has been using magnetic buttons behind the buckles to greatly speed up the process of opening and closing). When we got our first shipment back in 2009, I looked carefully, but soon shelved the idea of getting a Santarelli.

Over the years I kept on looking at Campomaggi briefcases. Many of them are superb and we carry them, but none could take the place that the Santarelli had carved out in my heart. I frequently discussed this with a few of my customers and I am sure that they became convinced that I would never pull the trigger. Instead, last month, the opportunity to work at a local company arose and I needed to carry my laptop home. By then I was ready and I never looked back.

If I had to use just one word to define the Santarelli, that word would be “deliberate”. Because it forces you to take your time opening it and closing it (and it is not that much time once you get used to it) I feel that it makes you sit back and asks: “why are you always in a hurry? Plan better and take pleasure in every moment.” As I do that I rejoice in the leather quality because it feels so alive and ready to handle the world and those are certainly qualities I appreciate in my work companion.

I also feel that the bag is perfectly designed for what I do, but I will have to discuss that in a later post.

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Maledetti Toscani Shoes A Year Later

Last year I got not one but two pairs of Maledetti Toscani shoes: the STUPENDO and the TOSTA. What happened as a result? My other shoes got almost no action over the last twelve months. Sorry.

STUPENDO Italian Leather Ankle Boots zipper

The STUPENDO Handmade Leather Ankle Boot with zipper open

Maledetti Toscani shoes are simply a few notches above regular shoes and once you get them you and your feet will only want to wear them. It is hard to explain why. I think two factors come together that produce a wonderful combination: style and quality. The STUPENDO are stunning: when I wear them, or see them on my friends who also got them, my thought invariable is: “wow, those are some good looking shoes”. The beautiful distressed leather exudes an understated elegance that is very captivating. The TOSTA, instead, are much flashier and noticeable because of the color, but because of their color they need to be more carefully matched with clothes that get along. I have a pair a gray jeans from Scotch and Soda and they make a match made in heaven.

The quality appears to be really high. After a year the construction is still like new. The leather on the STUPENDO is more beautiful than ever, while the silver on the TOSTA has worn off a bit giving it a little bit of a worn-in look and definitely not a worn-out look yet. Both shoes look like they will be with me for a while.

TOSTA Silver Sneakers

The TOSTA Silver Sneakers Looking Good!

If I had to choose just one pair, I would go with the STUPENDO because they are timeless. If you know me you would know that I prefer timeless over stylish, though not by such a landslide that I don’t touch anything stylish… In general, the STUPENDO are more versatile and they embody traditional Italian shoe craftsmanship in such a way that I am confident that they will last me a long time. I look forward to writing many blog posts about them over the next ten years. :-).

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What Does A Quality Men’s Leather Wallet Look Like After 11 Years

First the answer: it still looks great if not better than ever.

My Moneta Wallet After 11 Years

My Moneta Wallet After 11 Years

I treated my Moneta leather wallet fairly gently and as a result it has not aged much: the stitching is intact and there are no tears, cuts, or bruises to speak of. My Moneta is black which does not change much over the years anyway (unlike brown, for example). It is now a bit more opaque than eleven years ago but the leather feels better than it ever did: it’s more supple and soft, I love it.

I often wonder how long it will last in great shape. I once saw a wallet that was shredding to pieces after less than two years and had cost $10. My Moneta only cost $56 (that’s our 2004 price), so I am already matching the same cost per year as my friend and know that I have made the better long term investment. Ultimately, it’s not about the cost per year: it’s about enjoying your wallet.

Another reason why I support high quality leather wallets is the lower impact on landfills. We often speak against the throwaway mentality of cheap fashion and this is a good example. If my wallet lasts 20 years (and I have reasons to believe that it will surpass that milestone) its impact will only be equal to 10% the impact of those far cheaper wallets.

The Marcopoloni selection of wallets is excellent. We start with thinner Giudi wallets and go all the way up to Campomaggi wallets. In between are Dionigi wallets, which, in my opinion, are a great buy. They have also added a new line of wallets which we are likely going to carry in the future.

2015 New Dionigi Style

The new style of Dionigi wallets introduced in 2015. Pretty attractive if you ask me.

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Why People Love This Braided Leather Key Chain

GIAMAICANO Braided Italian Leather Key Chain

The most stylish Italian key chain with a convenient clip and two key rings in different sizes.

The Giamaicano is Marcopoloni’s second best-selling key chain of all time. Why do people love this braided leather keychain? They love it because its stylish design and quality leather make it attractive, fun, and practical. After talking to some of our many customers who appreciated it, I gather that the beauty of the leather and the clip stand out against most key chains. Even its relatively large size is a plus for people who otherwise struggle to find their keys in a large bag. In addition, many bags now come with D rings for key chains that can clip onto them. This is a key chain that marries great with that feature.

The Giamaicano is a Marcopoloni exclusive: you won’t find this on Amazon. We do post a lot of our key chains for sale on Amazon but not the Giamaicano because it is so successful and it does not need the help of the world’s largest marketplace. Just know that you will find it in what is, in my opinion, the world’s best curated catalog–Marcopoloni.

You probably heard me say this before: Gianni’s leather is the best vacchetta leather you can find. The owners of the concerie who sell their leather to the top shoe and bag brands in Italy routinely mock Gianni for using such good leather for his key chains. I am sure that you can understand what when your life-long passion is involved, you don’t want cheap ingredient: you strive to make the best–something that you can be really proud of.

We are also very proud to have found Gianni and his wonderful creations. We love his work and stand by it with a one-year parts and labor warranty.

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How Our Search for the Best Leather Care Products Came to an End

We get a ton of solicitation emails on a daily basis – mostly from leather factories in China or India, boasting “best quality leather goods, cheapest prices.” So imagine my surprise when we were contacted by Luke from DropForge Leather Care and found them to be an upstanding, legitimate business willing to back up their claim to be “the best in leather care.” At the risk of scaring them away, I immediately began firing off a million questions, all of which were answered promptly and confidently. Then they proceeded to send us samples of their products, which we gladly put to our test. Here is the result of our initial test:

Peggy volunteered to test the cream on her beloved black backpack. It had been around the block, and the color had faded into a yellowish grey. With one quick application to a small section of her backpack, we heard Peggy shout, “Oh my gosh!” Based on the decibel level, we feared that the lotion had burned a hole in her backpack or bleached it white. Peggy immediately rushed over, bag in hand. Luckily, she had a delighted look on her face. She showed us the result of her initial application of the cream, and it was as if a film of dirt was lifted from the surface of the leather:

Leather Cream in Action

Peggy’s initial test of the leather cream. Can you tell where she applied it?

We of course did some further tests on other items – from Daniele’s shoes and Colombo messenger bag to my boots and more. Did the new leather cream stand up to our test? Well, in short, yes … but since there are a lot of photos and even a video to show you, the full results will have to wait for a future post. For now, I’ll leave you with a link to literally the The Best Leather Cream We’ve Found.

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Daily Cappuccino Is Special with The Kissa Koito Cups

Say that you sell an intriguing cappuccino cup and saucer set, that you love cappuccino, and that you happen to have an espresso machine at the office. Wouldn’t you want to try it?

KISSA Cappuccino Cup Saucer Set

The amazingly rooted in tradition koito pottery cappuccino set.

I spent a lot of time trying to decide if I should treat Emi and I to the special experience. Finally, in 2013, I decided to do it. We have since treated ourselves to cappuccino in these appealing cups daily, often twice daily. At first, I really wanted to figure out whether the cappuccino tasted better or worse in these cups. It did not take long to settle the question and realize that the cappuccino tasted about the same. I did develop the belief that the cup has to match the quantity of the beverage and that the cup should be at least two-thirds full when served. To achieve that I serve a double shot of espresso with milk foam mixed by a long-dive pour.

For us cappuccino is a ritual that separates night from day. I officially wake up as I have my cup and I internalize the daily task list during the ritual. Nothing before that happens unless I am absolutely coerced into it. Because it is such an important ritual in our lives the Kissa have made it very special. Pleasing to the eye, responsive to the touch, as I raise the cup to my lips something good happens.

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Why we post pictures of (almost) every Campomaggi bag we sell!

One of our 2015 goals at Marcopoloni is to continue posting individual photos of each Campomaggi bag for sale on our website. That means each actual bag, front and back, so that you can preview the exact bag before you buy it. You can see this in action when you go to add a Colombo bag to your shopping cart, for example, and the pull-down menu lists a whole bunch of different options like ‘Distressed Cognac 1,’ ‘Distressed Cognac 2,’ etc. When you view the corresponding thumbnail photos on the page, you can see the exact bag front and back before adding it to your cart. Why? Because these Campomaggi bags of distressed leather can have so many differences – even among the same shipment of the same bags in the same color – that we realized we had to go the extra mile to successfully sell them and keep our Campomaggi fans happy.

You can see the unique markings from the leather distressing process on this Colombo messenger bag.

You can see the unique markings from the leather distressing process on this Colombo messenger bag in Cognac color.

This is also a Colombo in Cognac - quite different from the one above!

This is also a Colombo in Cognac – quite different from the one above!

It all started years ago when Emi and Daniele received the first shipment from Campomaggi. During a trip to Italy to find artisans, they had fallen in love with Campomaggi bags and decided to sell them here in the U.S. So they ordered eight different styles of bag. Upon opening the boxes, they realized some of the bags looked very different than the ones they’d seen in Campomaggi’s warehouse – things like darker or lighter shades than they saw before, bags that had two slightly different color straps, and major variations in color and texture in different parts of the same bag.

It turns out that Marco Campomaggi’s bags are intentionally made to be imperfect. They undergo a unique manufacturing process, where each bag is washed, dyed and distressed in its entirety after all the parts are put together – straps, lining and all. This technique (patented by Marco’s Campomaggi brand) not only gives his bags their vintage, weathered look, but also makes each single piece really a one-of-a-kind work of art. In fact, it GUARANTEES that no two bags are exactly alike. Because each “skin” is unique in the way it absorbs color, stretches and shrinks, each finished bag is distinct in its color, tonality, and texture. The resulting shape and size may also vary slightly.

Over time, we at Marcopoloni realized that showing each exact bag was the best way to offer top customer service. We encouWe have even been known to e-mail our customers photos of one of us wearing the bag, if modeling shots are not already posted on our website. It’s just one more way to ensure the best service for our customers. And it’s sure to keep us very busy through 2015 and beyond! Are there any photos of handbags you want to see? Or are you curious about this “going the extra mile” customer service? We encourage your phone calls and e-mails!

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Happy New Year 2015!

I have been wishing happy new year for a few years now, perhaps it will become a holiday tradition. Of course, as usual, I am a few days late, but I don’t plan on doing any better in the years to come: time with the kids is too much fun to worry about a technicality. Today is the Epiphany and the last day of the Christmas holidays in Italy. Tomorrow all of our vendors get back to work and I will begin working like a madman, but today I still have a pretty quiet day.

Hence I get to wish you a pretty relaxed HAPPY NEW YEAR and can move on to a few business thoughts.

2014 was the year of discovery for us. Emi and I finally completed our discussion to define our brand. This is a discussion that took us years to complete. Just as we did that we met a new artisan who embodies the philosophy of Marcopoloni 100%: Bahadir from Baharra Design House in New York who makes the most wonderful handcrafted jewelry rooted in the Turkish tradition. Earlier this year we went to visit Alessandro and Nicola and their families in Cortona, Italy and added to our catalog shoes that are to die for when you see the quality, workmanship, and design that they embody. At the end of the year we also added their wonderful bags and received our first leather jackets, which you will see in 2015.

In 2015 we will most likely add another leather artisan who makes unparalleled products. The skill involved in getting such finesse packed into their products is such that you do not see that ANYWHERE else. So if you have ever wished that you could have even better quality small leather accessories, 2015 will be an interesting year. We are also always looking for new vendors and would like to expand into scarves (it’s really difficult to find handmade textiles any more) and anything else that is soulful and handmade. If you have any ideas or suggestions please send them our way! Remember that Marcopoloni is dedicated to you and so getting the products that you suggest is a high priority for us as long as they fit with our philosophy.

So, have a great year and let’s see if we can have an even more amazing catalog by the end of the year. If you are a Marcopoloni fan, please tell your friends and family!

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