My STUPENDO Maledetti Toscani Shoes After Four Months

After four months of wearing my distressed Maledetti Toscani ankle boots I have two thoughts: they look even cooler, and they are starting to mold around my feet.

Fall has arrived. Actually Northern California winter has arrived. It is cold enough to wear jeans and so I wear my STUPENDO Ankle Boots at least 3 times a week with great pride and it is a pleasure to feel the artisanship on my feet.

STUPENDO Italian Leather Ankle Boots zipper

The STUPENDO Handmade Leather Ankle Boot with zipper open

To ensure that I properly tested them, I took them on most of my long walks pushing Marco’s stroller. The park is pretty far so the round trip is a solid forty minutes. Despite what could prove a relationship-ending test, the fire has endured and I am still in love with the shoes. As I was saying, although the shoes felt stiff at first and I was considering a rubber sole, with time they started to mold around my foot and now the thought of rubber soles does not return.

I have gotten to know the ankle boots well: the zippers occasionally come a few notches undone and I have to pull them back up. I was getting ready to warn customers of the flaw, but, in reality, it only happens occasionally and they don’t unzip so much that the boot becomes loose. The other thing to know is that if you are holding a baby and want to slip these on… it won’t work (unless you really force the issue at the risk of deforming the shoes). A long shoe horn can come to the rescue in this case. I have learned to put the baby in the car seat and then put my shoes on.

After four months it is time for me to polish them. But when is life going to hand me fifteen minutes to do that? Even without a polish, they still look very good. My best friend said he would gladly wear a pair. He has wide feet, we are going to try going a size up and it should work out. I have average-width feet and the shoes feel roomy, but not cavernous.

I recently talked to someone who wandered why pay more for a pair handmade shoes. I looked at his TV and asked him why did he pay more to have a 70″ TV? The pride, quality, and design that go into these shoes deliver an experience that the other shoes simply do not. That is why.

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One Thing Is Better Than Two

I was walking at the mall while Chiara was attending a birthday party and I saw a sign outside of a restaurant that said: “TWO THINGS ARE BETTER THAN ONE”.


I don’t think so.

But that is the marketing logic that we have come to accept. Yet, I think, it should be challenged.

When it comes to food, could it be that one dish with finer ingredients is better than two dishes made with cheaper ingredients or less skillfully prepared? By following this train of thought I realize that pretty much everything we consume faces a trade off between quality and quantity–and quantity is not necessarily always the winner.

On the other hand, I am not sure that quality is necessarily always the winner either. But it does seem to be the winner when it comes to the artisanal products that we sell at Marcopoloni.

So my point is not that quality is always better than quantity but it is just as valiant a competitor in the fight, especially for things that are so important to us like food. That is why I was so moved by that sign: because we are what we eat and we should carefully evaluate the food that we intake.

We had an experience that somewhat makes this point. When we went to a wedding in Japan Emi bought a pair of shoes that were suitable to wear with her dress and looked nice. But we had to walk to the reception and we watched these shoes come apart and Emi’s feet scream for something comfortable. After the reception, the first thing we did was get a pair of traditional Japanese wooden flip flops and happiness was restored.

That experience seems to repeat itself when we choose to buy something cheap. Again, I think of shoes, Chiara’s shoes in this case. How many pairs of supposedly decent shoes have we bought that didn’t event last her a season? I upgraded her to Maledetti Toscani shoes and she is outgrowing them, finally! Now the problem is that Marco is not really going to be into girlie shoes, will he?

Do you embrace quality of quantity at least some of the times? We think it is worth it.

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New Pleated Overnight Bags by Campomaggi

The fourth style of new Campomaggi bags introduced for the spring summer collection of 2015 is a line of overnight bags that features pleated leather towards the handle. The pleats are lined with discrete brass studs. These bags are not just unique models that we had never seen before but they are also presented the new colors including the cotto which is a terracotta color that is brown but much richer, just like actual terracotta.

SCARPONE Large Pleated Leather Satchel Cognac

The large pleated satchel by Campomaggi. Here seen in Cognac.

These bags show Marco Campomaggi is an avid traveler of both time and space. He told me how he likes to go to flea market to look at old bags from a time past to find inspiration and design ideas. These travel bags remind me of the bags we used to carry as teenagers as we left for our summer vacations. Growing up I didn’t realize the quality of bags that were in my hands. But now I realize that they lasted for so long for a reason: they were built to last, and with the right kind of leather.

That is exactly the feeling I get from these bags today. Excellent leather, craftsmanship, and design come together in a product that is build to last and go places in the process.

Let me know if you see the same in these bags. The SCARPA is the smaller one and the one we received in Cotto.

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The New Magically Braided Leather by Campomaggi

Perhaps our favorite new design introduced by Marco Campomaggi for the 2015 Spring Summer collection is the line of bags that features braided leather. At first look, besides its gracious appearance, which is unique, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about it. But upon further inspection, it appears that it is one single strip of leather that has been sliced inside twice (to create the three strips) but without cutting any of the three strips loose from the rest.

For days now we have been saying to ourselves that there must be a simple explanation. We even had a few ideas that looked promising, yet nothing has proven to be a satisfying explanation. As I write this, I feel that there is at least one reader out there who knows exactly how this is done. If you are the one, please write to us the explanation, because, so far, we think that it is magic.

SANARELLI Shoulder Bag Braided Leather Accents Beige

The SANARELLI shoulder bag with braided accents

In fact, given that Christmas is around the corner, we speculate that these were made in Santa’s shop: that is how the braid was accomplished. I am glad that we found the answer!

To prove my point that I believe that this line is really attractive, I will share that I keep on telling Emi that the Sanarelli is super cute and that she should get one. I don’t know if she will listen to me, but she has at least hung one of them by her desk at work. I will let you know what happens, but for the time being take a look at the modeling shot she took and tell me it is not awesome: I won’t believe you.

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New Campomaggi for 2015: Narrower Woven Leather

Yesterday I spoke about the studded woven leather style that Campomaggi introduced for the Spring/Summer 2015 Collection. I stated how I thought that it was going to become a Campomaggi classic style. Today I am going to take a look at the new style woven leather.

We received only two bags in the new style already. The rest will come in January sometime. Even though both bags have the word large in their names, one is fairly small and one is very large and spacious. Both already caught the attention of our customers who signed up to be notified when a new Campomaggi collection arrives.

PERUSINI Large Woven Leather Clutch Vacchetta Sage

The new Campomaggi woven leather style

The Perusini is the more likely to sell out first because it is easy to use, it is relatively spacious, and it features a cross-body strap often not found on other clutches.

My first impression is that this style of woven leather is somewhat more elegant than the old style, which was a bit more rugged. Both styles are equally beautiful, but for the moment, I will enjoy feasting my eyes on the new models coming out.

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The New Campomaggi Collection Has Landed!

The first installment of the Campomaggi Spring/Summer 2015 collection arrived Monday afternoon and we attacked it as quickly as possible as we were anxious with anticipation. In a nutshell, this is a very inspired new collection.

Emi and I spent Monday and Tuesday feverishly taking pictures and adding the products to the database (not an easy thing to do in the middle of the busy holiday season) and the result has been that by Tuesday night we had all the products up on the Just Landed page. I am very proud of getting that done so quickly.

NOTE: If you are reading this much after December 17, 2014, the products will probably have been moved to the regular catalog.

Personally, I was very impressed last summer by the line that Marco Campomaggi called “Medioevo”. Those are the bags with the tight woven pattern that is held in place by studs of different colors. The Dolci IV is a perfect example:

DOLCI IV Mini Bauletto Espresso

A great sample of the Campomaggi Spring Summer 2015 Collection

When we received the bags we fell even more in love. I really like the DOLCI IV, the RIVA, and the SOFIA wallet. They are so “Campomaggi” and hard to resist. Studs and Campomaggi leather have always been a good pair, but now the tight pattern of studs to match the tight pattern of the woven leather is really attractive and creative. I think that this will become one of the classic Campomaggi design features.

There are more styles that arrived and I will talk about them later. I am curious to know, what do you think about this Campomaggi design?

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A favorite men’s wallet returns!

The LIRA Italian Leather Wallet is a favorite here at Marcopoloni. We have a hard time keeping them stocked and with the holidays coming, they’re sure to fly off our shelves! We just unpacked a shipment of brown LIRAs from Dionigi and they are as beautiful as always. One of the things we love most about the LIRA is the customer feedback just raving about its quality. It is not easy to find a wallet that will last years and will retain its quality through those many years.

Its large design means you can hold paychecks in the LIRA without folding them.

Its large design means you can hold paychecks in the LIRA without folding them.

The LIRA maintains a slim silhouette and can hold eight credit cards!

The LIRA maintains a slim silhouette and can hold eight credit cards!

As you can see from the photos above, the original LIRAs had the I.D. privacy flap on the right side of the wallet. It has now moved to the left side, as pictured in the bottom photo, which has the privacy flap closed. That is one of the fun things about working with handmade goods. Unlike factory-made, cookie-cutter products, our artisans often make small tweaks and design changes to improve the style and functionality of their goods. It’s also exciting to unpack a new shipment and notice the variations in the leather. Some of the wallets have a more distinct grain detail, while others are smoother, and there are natural variations in the leather colors.

Many of our customers are connoisseurs of handmade goods and appreciate having something that is truly unique. To them, we are proud to offer the LIRA. As one of our top-selling wallets, with its classic style, the LIRA makes an excellent gift for the holidays.

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In the spotlight: Antartidee!

Much attention is given to our beautiful leather handbags here at Marcopoloni. But we also carry lots of other handmade products you may not have discovered yet. One of our most unusual collections is the work of Antartidee. Based in Reggio Emilia, a city in Northern Italy, Antartidee artists Mauro and Roby and their team have been designing and hand-painting their bold clocks, wall hooks and decorations since 1986.

This wall hook is our most extreme example of Antartidee’s sense of fun and fancy:

This wall hook will surely catch the attention of all who see it.

This wall hook will surely catch the attention of all who see it.

OK, we understand the FLIPPENDINO middle finger wall hook may not be for everyone (though it could make a very amusing retirement or going away gift for someone with a fine sense of humor). Antartidee’s clocks in the style of Surrealist painter Salvador Dali are especially popular. Here are a few of our best sellers:

The DRIPPULUM melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

The DRIPPULUM melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

The CAN'T FRAME ME melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

The CAN’T FRAME ME melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

The HAND ME THE TIME melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

The HAND ME THE TIME melting clock in the style of surreal artist Salvador Dali.

Here at Marcopoloni, we seek to bring you products with a soul – the original, the unique, always handmade (or at least, hand-painted) in an ethical manner with respect given to all workers. In doing so, we hope to introduce our customers to new artists whose work they can be proud to own. Check out our full line of Antartidee products here.

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Meeting Bahadir from The Baharra Design Studio

Bahadir Alphan was a customer of ours first. When he got to experience our customer service he decided that we might be experienced enough to properly showcase his jewelry and contacted us to propose a collaboration. When we looked at his jewelry we were amazed. I said that I didn’t care for jewelry but this jewelry made me change my mind. The unique character of the handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces was so beautiful that I was moved. If I didn’t want to have jewelry before I wanted to have jewelry now because it fit with my style of unique, beautiful, and authentic wear. Emi was equally impressed so even though we never thought we would sell expensive jewelry we decided to explore the idea.

We decided to meet Bahadir and he flew over from New York last Saturday and spent two days with us and our kids. He patiently explained to us the difference between the value of mass produced jewelry, which relies on the value of the rocks and metals to determine the value of a piece, and handmade jewelry, in particular custom made jewelry, which has the gift recipient in mind from the very beginning and which is valued more by the skilled creativity of the jeweler.

Vintage Design Tulip Ring

Tulips are a Turkish flower, here they embody the strength of the Divan Room

Baha, as we now call him, brought samples for us to preview. We loved them and took them to the photography studio and Emi started taking pictures. We can’t wait to offer these to our customers. If as a company we strive to bring products by inspiring artisans, these certainly have the SOUL that we have been looking for. Each piece demonstrates design creativity and the willingness to painstakingly transform a design into a creation. The elements that can be customized by the customer ensure that if you are looking for the perfect gift you will be able to get Bahadir to design and create it in collaboration with you and us. Make sure to get to know Daniele and Emi, because those who do have access to our desire to help you in a personal way.

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The Nicola And The iPhone 6

A belt pouch for the Note 3 and iPhone 6

The NICOLA seems designed for both the Note 3 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Earlier this year both Emi and I upgraded our phones to a Galaxy Note 3, which is huge. We love the big screen, pen, and features of the Note 3… and its huge screen. I was very happy carrying my Galaxy S2 in my DANIELE. After two years it had nicely stretched and the phone was easy to get in and out. Emi’s Note 3 fit in her GEMELLI or any other bag she owns. I had to solve the problem and I picked the NICOLA, the Campomaggi studded belt pouch, to do that.

I was already happy wearing a cool belt pouch, but I did worry that the Nicola, full with wallet and Note 3 would be too big. The bottom line is: I’ve worn it every day since July 1. That is approximately 120 days, if it was a pain I would have dropped it for a different solution by now.

After seeing the introduction of the iPhone 6 Plus, which is practically the exact same size as the Note 3, and the videos that showed people bending their phones because they kept it in their pockets, I realized that the NICOLA is a really viable solution for more people than just me. I think that it has many advantages: first, it allows quick and easy access to your phone, which means being able to take that photo or take your phone out of the pocket even while driving (so that your passenger can look up directions once you realize the restaurant is not exactly where you thought it was); second, it keeps the phone far away enough from your body that you don’t have to worry about being affected by it. I know that the studies say that phones have no impact on us, but I prefer to be safe than sorry; and, finally, it keeps your phone safe, even if you have a cell phone charm attached like I do.

There are drawbacks too, of course. I have had a few times when I felt that it was bulky, or that I brushed it against a wall or car door, and I have had to learn to deal with that. For the most part, though, the NICOLA is out of mind. I also don’t think that it can be worn with a suit as it has to hang on the front/side section of your belt and the coat would look horrific bulging out. In those situations the NICOLA becomes a bulky wallet that ends up in a bag, or it stays home altogether.

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