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.

New Campomaggi for 2015: Narrower Woven Leather

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

Murano glass in the spotlight – a George Clooney wedding gift!

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The headlines thrilled us: ‘Amal Alamuddin’s Surprise $3,700 Wedding Gift to George Clooney Revealed!’ What was this pricey gift? None other than handmade Murano cocktail glasses – a whole set of the same glasses that they drank out of at a hotel at their Venice wedding.

We share in this appreciation of Murano glass – Marcopoloni founders Daniele and Emi can be seen in their office each day sipping from their beautiful Murano glass tumblers. Here at Marcopoloni, we celebrate artisan-made products, believing that you can feel the soul that has been infused into a product at the hands of an inspiring artisan. That is why we sell Murano glass — vases and tumblers and decorative figurines known for their unique beauty and made in Murano, a series of islands in Northern Italy.

Clearly Amal Alamuddin – now called Amal Clooney, having legally taken her new husband’s name – shares in this appreciation for quality handmade works of art.

“Amal loves the idea of them having the same cocktail glasses that they use at the Cipriani Hotel in Venice,” according to an article yesterday in E! News. “George admired them every time he looked at them during the wedding celebrations and they didn’t have time to go shopping in Venice, so she’s ordered them in as a post-wedding gift for him. It means that every time they curl up with a cocktail at home they’ll think of their wedding and be reminded of all the happy memories.”

Another important thing about buying Murano glass is that it helps support the glass artisans in Murano who are in danger of losing their livelihood as more and more mass-produced products compete for the space on store shelves. At Marcopoloni, we sell the art of Murano Glass maker Maestro Imperio Rossi. He loves making glass masterpieces because that is how he gives shape to his ideas that embody his creativity. This passion started in 1964 when, at age thirteen, he began learning from his father and other Maestri the tradition that has lived in Murano for over one thousand years.

Making glass is a team effort. Master Rossi has owned his furnace since 1986 and is joined by Maestro Mario Costantini, and a small team of glass craftspeople who share his dedication and passion for creating beautiful artistic glass. His daughter Sara and his son also help run the business.

So we congratulate the Clooneys and applaud Mrs. Clooney for her giving such a thoughtful gift!

Dreaming of the BELLI bag by Campomaggi

The espresso-color BELLI bag looks beautiful with a casual or dressier outfit.
The espresso-color BELLI bag looks beautiful with a casual or dressier outfit.

A long time ago, I worked for Neiman Marcus in San Francisco. I sold Kiehl’s skincare products in the cosmetics department. Directly across from cosmetics was the handbag section, where every day  I gazed  upon the elegant and very expensive Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade handbags.

Twice a year we had an extra employee discount day called 30/30. You got your usual 30 percent off, then an additional 30 percent off that. I kept telling myself I would eventually buy a Gucci bag on 30/30. But I never did. For a long time I regretted that.

Here at Marcopoloni.com, employees accrue “MP Bucks.” Eventually we can use those MP bucks to make a purchase.

I’ve got my eye on this gorgeous BELLI bag by Campomaggi. I love the woven pattern, the vintage look, the beautiful stitching on the sides, and most of all the buttery softness of this full-grain Italian leather as it sits on my shoulder.  It just feels right.

I don’t need to regret passing up a Gucci bag so long ago. Campomaggi bags are even better than those designer purses with immediately-recognizable logos and patterns. When you buy a Campomaggi you are buying something made by hand at an artisan’s workshop in Italy, colored with environmentally friendly vegetable-based dyes. Not something that comes off a factory assembly line.  And your bag will look like nobody else’s.

So for now I will wait. And hope this bag is still here in stock when I am ready to cash in my MP Bucks!

I Love My New Italian Leather Sneakers

Was I excited about receiving our first shipment of shoes on Thursday? You bet, especially since I was going to make at least one pair mine. I was also really hoping not to become disappointed as my expectations were getting to be extremely high.

That definitely did not happen this time. Although my TOSTA silver sneakers did not quite look like the shoes I had seen in the pictures provided by Maledetti Toscani, their quality simply blew me away.

TOSTA Italian Leather Sneakers Marcopoloni Man
The TOSTA Italian Leather Silver Sneakers are definitely Marcopoloni Man approved.

The first time I wore them they felt pretty tight and I noticed that the strings would lose some of the silver when I tightened them. They also felt stiff here and there. Luckily, my worry that they wouldn’t break in soon dissipated though. After a few days they loosened up a lot and they only felt stiff against my toes when I bent them as much as possible. I will confirm that this has gone away in a future post, for now let me tell you what my first impression has been.

The shoes go great with the dark blue jeans and with the distressed gray jeans I have. I actually bought the gray ones hoping that they would pair well with the sneakers. I couldn’t be more pleased. Not only do they look great, they also feel great. When I am not wearing them my feet long for the next time I will put them on. There is a love affair going on, one that I expect to last a very long time.

The Latest Employment Report: Better Than Not Good

The November employment report is out, on its normal date, and it was slightly better than expected. With 203,000 jobs added it was hailed in a Bloomberg article as a strong report, a sign that the economy is picking up and that consumers are going to be able to spend more.

In my opinion, we can’t treat 200,000 jobs added as the new 300,000 benchmark for a recovering economy. At most, I can say that we are stuck in traffic on the freeway but we just got to shift from second to third gear. It is a relief, that’s for sure, and perhaps a sign that it will clear up soon. As I try to look ahead I see another budget negotiation and I don’t trust the people who were stupid in October not to do something silly in January.

The good news is that the budget deficit is shrinking and it will continue to shrink if the economy improves. Eventually, the calls for austerity will begin to wane and the roadblocks will become fewer and farther between. I now hope that we will see 300,000 jobs added sometime in 2014. I have been waiting so long for that that I don’t even remember how it feels.

Stocking up for the holidays!

Although we keep Murano glass products in stock year round, nothing feels like the holidays more than receiving a nice big Murano glass shipment! I’m sure you’ve all seen the beautiful Murano glass Christmas ornaments that we have available along with tumblers, cute animal figurines and more!

The showstopper of this shipment is the GOTO ARGENTO Murano glass tumbler. It  has been updated with a new look and it is even more stunning than before. The brilliant colors of the melted glass pieces, silver leaves and unique murrina decorates all around the exterior of the tumbler, coming together like a painting. What’s more amazing about the GOTO ARGENTO is the texture. You have the smoother areas where the glass pieces have melted completely, slightly more bumpy areas (a bit like drops of paint) where the glass pieces have only partially melted and of course, the “dimples” that have been created during the whole glass-blowing process.

Also included in this shipment is a Murano glass tumbler of my own! I received the GOTO SBRUFFO Murano glass tumbler in aqua and green and I have been thoroughly enjoying it. Rather than the glass pieces and murrina of the GOTO ARGENTO, the GOTO SBRUFFO features ribbons of colored glass layered around the tumbler. Depending on the color scheme you choose, you may get a tumbler with either gold or silver leaves embedded in the glass. Mine has silver leaves!

 

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GOTO ARGENTO in Aqua

 

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GOTO SBRUFFO in Aqua & Green