Product Reviews

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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Product Reviews

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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Other Our Artisans and Their Products Product Reviews

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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Product Reviews

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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Authenticity Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business Our Artisans and Their Products

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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Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business

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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Authenticity Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business

Truly hands-on customer service at Marcopoloni!

Yesterday one of our customers ordered the Pausania Vertical Shoulder Tote online. Because he knew we were a small, family-owned business that treats each customer like a friend, he quickly called us with a question about his order. He loved the bag – one of Campomaggi’s classic rugged-chic bags of top-grain, distressed leather – but there was one feature he wanted to change.

We go the extra mile! At customer request, Marcopoloni replaced the chain zipper pull on the Pausania with a leather one.
We go the extra mile! At customer request, Marcopoloni replaced the chain zipper pull on the Pausania with a leather one.

Instead of the leather zipper pull that Campomaggi uses on most of his bags, the Pausania has an antique-finish T-bar chain zipper pull that closes by threading it into a leather loop. Very elegant, but this customer asked if we could switch it out for a leather zipper pull on his Pausania. We looked through our box of Campomaggi parts and found a bag of leather zipper pulls and assured him that yes, it could be done.

Rummaging through our bag of tools, Emi extracted a pair of needle nosed pliers and set to work removing the chain zipper pull and replacing it with a leather zipper pull in Espresso color that perfectly matched the Pausania. This is just one example of how we at Marcopoloni offer customer service that is personalized. Our clients often tell us that calling or e-mailing our office is like catching up with a friend. We value each and every customer, and will try our best to help in any way we can.

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Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business Our Artisans and Their Products

Murano Glass Clowns Are Works of Art

One of the very complex Murano glass sculptures is the large clown. The large clown is by far more complicated and detailed than the typical ten-inch figurines. Thanks to their complexity, large clown characters evoke one of the widest ranges of emotions of any of the objects that we carry including happiness, fear, compassion, sadness, etc.

Murano Glass Clown
A Murano Glass clown by Mario Costantini is an intricate patchwork of design features.

The clown in the picture delivered many emotions to me. It was supposed to be our first clown ever and I was going to feature it in our December newsletter. It seemed to be so carefully packaged, I was taking a video of the unveiling, and then we discovered that the bird had broken off his arm. I was so happy and excited and when I saw that my heart sank and I sulked the whole day. I spent a long time admiring the beauty of the bird and wondering if there was a way to fix it. I gave up when I noticed a small crack in the saxophone. That’s business, I suppose. Although it was packaged really well it didn’t survive a week’s worth of handling. I showed it to Sara (the owner of the glass factory and my point of contact) and she was so kind as to give me a credit. But I don’t want to get the same clown just to see it arrive broken again. I will probably try something simpler until we can figure out a foolproof way to package it.

I don’t know yet of anyone looking for Murano glass clowns of this quality. If you are one of them, please get in touch with me and I will figure out a way to get it to you unbroken. Coincidentally, today I got an e-mail from a customer who had asked us to replace a broken lampshade. She was so happy and thankful that it rewarded me for all the extra work. But I shouldn’t call it work: that’s what I love to do.

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Our Artisans and Their Products

Hang Up Your Work, It’s Time To Be Merry

The year is almost over and the holidays are here. If you are fortunate to be able to share time with friends and family, don’t forget that they will need a place to hang their coat. This is especially true if you are having many people over: an entertainment room is better equipped if there are sufficient hooks for all the coats so that they don’t end up piled up on a bed somewhere.

HUNGOVER Wine Glass Coat Wall Hook
The HUNGOVER Wine Glass Coat Wall Hook is festive and has party written all over it.

Despite the positive economic news we hear lately, what I have heard from customers and other business owners all year long is that the year wasn’t all that exciting, so why would I be talking about being merry? Mainly because les jeux sont faits, the year is about over and there is little more that can be done. On the other hand, taking some time with family and friends is something that we can always look back to.

And so, why would I shamelessly promote my wares? Because I want to make the connection that our products have with good times. Antartidee products are way more than functional, they often stir up laughter and conversations and they are known to break the ice. Let me raise a toast to a friendlier tomorrow!

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Our Artisans and Their Products

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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