February 25 is Marco Campomaggi‘s birthday. He turns 52 today! The reason why he put his birth date on the label is not to get birthday wishes every year but to express the fact that his bags are his creations, they express his creativity, which began when Marco was born.
Because we are, or at least think that we are, his number one fans in the world we have started sending him birthday wishes every year, partially to thank him for making our lives better. Our customers have joined us and we include their wishes along with ours. Marco has really appreciated this and says that despite having “25-02-1961” on every single label, nobody, except us, has, so far, used it as a yearly birthday reminder. That is a little surprising, and, knowing Marco’s modesty, it may be something he said just to keep the spotlight away.
Perhaps, next year, we can circulate a card among his fans so that we can deliver to Marco a card signed by his most passionate fans. If you like that idea, the place to go is the Fans of Campomaggi group on Facebook. You can also wish him happy birthday in the comments here!
The DAVIDE Studded Leather Belt doesn’t match any of the clothes I own. It’s too nice! It is a casual belt, but it can’t be worn with any pair of jeans. It needs a nice pair of jeans of the kind I have seen on well dressed people in Italy.
Luckily, I just happen to be in Italy, in Milan to be exact, my hometown and the hometown of Luca Manzoni, the guy who wears the coolest jeans in the world. So I asked him: “I’m trying to get a pair of really cool jeans. Do you have any suggestions?” Among his many suggestions I tried the last one and I immediately found something that I liked there: at Frav, a small shop near Porta Ticinese.
I got a pair from a French brand that was born in Toulouse and now lives in Paris: Surface to Air Clothing. I found a shirt by the same company that I really liked and, voila`, there is a new me.
Except for the shoes! I can’t wear my old shoes with this outfit!
Last week I received my new Campomaggi belt. It looks amazing and I love it. The problem is that it is going to require, at a minimum, a pair of jeans that I love and looks amazing. Luckily, we are going to Italy next week and I have seen jeans there that definitely can stack up to a Campomaggi belt.
The other problems are: first, that it is not a belt that you wear with the boring shirts that I wear at work; and, second, I don’t want to draw attention to the muffin top that is starting to develop over my jeans.
So my new belt is causing me to pay attention to my figure and my wardrobe. I have been wearing it with the coolest clothes I have and have a few initial impressions to report.
First, it takes a while for the belt loop to loosen up and, at the beginning, it is rather laborious to undo the belt. So plan your rest breaks accordingly.
Second, I am wearing the belt on the tightest hole, which means that the extremity of the belt flaps around a bit and I have to tuck it into my pocket. Make sure to measure the distance from the belt buckle to the hole you use in a belt and let us know. We’ll be able to comment about the fit.
Third (and finally), there is a little patch without studs on the belt. This is designed to help the flap slide over the belt and under the pant’s belt loop. So make sure to position this patch below the pant’s belt loop to help make taking the belt on and off easier.
When I saw Alessandro wear the DAVIDE Studded Leather Belt by Campomaggi I was struck, I have to admit it. Perhaps it was a sign that Marco’s creativity had finally won. To be more precise: I was already won over by the appeal of Campomaggi bags and accessories, but I never in my life said: “I have to get that” when I saw someone else wear something.
I have been saying how I had lost my sense of style when I left Italy more than 20 years ago and I recently started lamenting how it would be nice to get it back. Unfortunately, thanks to Facebook, a few photos surfaced that hint that I might never have had a sense of style. I’m just going to blame those photos on the Eighties and continue my quest to get my groove back–fully pretending that I once had it.
Here is a video of me, five months after having seen the belt, finally opening it up to see it. I will report how I like using it in my next post.
If you can’t view the video above you can see it on YouTube.
Very recently, we received an order for two ZAVATTI leather backpacks from a brand new TV series, Revolution, written by Eric Kripke. For those of you who follow TV shows often, you might have seen his name written all over the credits of the extremely popular TV series Supernatural and the Boogeyman movies! Not only does Revolution have an amazing writer, Giancarlo Esposito is starring in it! Sounds familiar? Well, he plays a crucial role in the TV series, Breaking Bad (it’s such an awesome show if you haven’t seen it)!
We are all absolutely thrilled about this opportunity because this has the potential to give our name a big boost! Here at Marcopoloni, we strive to support the artisans who make all their products by hand. There is no machinery involved; Just humans utilizing their creative skills and talents! Revolution is a TV series about life after electricity no longer exists. Everyone is forced to live as they did before the industrial revolution. This means genuine handmade products (weapons, clothing, backpacks and bags *nudge nudge*, you name it!) all around and no machinery to mass produce anything ever again.
Marcopoloni is definitely the right place to look for a pre-industrial era themed backpack to use in the show. As you all know, Campomaggi’s rugged-chic distressed leather products emanates all that comes with age; Character, memories, and most importantly, the essence of the owner. The backpacks will look amazing when paired with the characters because they have such a rugged, “survivalist” image. However, the Revolution set put in the order for the ZAVATTIs when they have already filmed the trailers, previews and the initial few episodes. Hopefully we’ll get some exposure later on in the season, but who knows! Until we find out for sure, we’ll be kept in suspense about the ZAVATTI’s TV debut.
So I haven’t been writing much lately, mainly because I have been feverishly working to ensure that we have plenty of Campomaggi bags in stock for all you fans out there. Some bags are so popular that despite our best efforts, we just can’t seem to keep them in stock. I apologize in advance for that, and to those of you who will have to wait months before being able to hold their bags in their hands.
The first fruit of my labor arrived this week … a shipment to replenish some sold out items and, more importantly, a bunch of new bags!! Because it will take many days before we get around to posting all of the new bags on our website, we put together a quick video to show you what we got. If you see anything that interests you, please let me know! I’d be happy to provide more photos or video. Oh, and one last bit of good news … three new Campomaggi briefcases are expected by the middle of next week. Enjoy!
At the end of the day, I was able to casually chat with Caterina Lucchi. Despite all of our previous conversations I still felt that a gentle poke into Caterina’s past would help me learn a lot more about her philosophy and inspiration.
As we sat on the couch and started talking, a number of Caterina’s employees sat on the chairs nearby and began listening. It was a cozy moment: we were only missing a crackling fireplace and a snowstorm outside.
Caterina began dating Marco when she was seventeen and Marco was eighteen. Caterina worked as a waitress and Marco was starting to make leather bags with a friend and was selling his unique and handmade bags on the sidewalks of Cesenatico.
Since Marco couldn’t make bags fast enough, Caterina, who aspired to become a Physical Education teacher, began helping and discovered a passion for creating beautiful accessories. Marco and Caterina began exhibiting at local markets and fairs and met such positive response that they had to set aside making progress on their university studies.
Soon it was time to hire their first employee. At the beginning, the position required a little bit of everything. The job description included accounting for a couple of days a week and a lot of help making bags. That first hire is now Campomaggi and Caterina Lucchi‘s Purchasing Manager. Marco and Caterina take pride in never having fired anyone. When the deep crisis hit the industry after 9/11, they reduced hours for everyone at the company.
As some of you may have noticed, we name each and every Campomaggi bag after a notable Italian. It’s a very careful and thought-provoking process … the personality, character, imagery and features of the bag must match, and be complimented by, the figure after which it is named. Our Campomaggi bags are named after famous explorers, scientists, philosophers and more. There are a few obvious names, however, that have been reserved for fear of another bag coming around that is even more befitting of those names. “Da Vinci” was one of them.
When we laid eyes on this soft leather briefcase, however, it didn’t take long for us to be convinced that the name Da Vinci would not go wasted on it. We think it is that beautiful, versatile, clever, and mysterious.
Campomaggi bags often break down categories, which is part of their charm for yours truly, an inveterate metaphysician. Poring over the Marcopoloni website as I often do on breaks from my editing jobs, I noticed the Amici. It looked like a girl’s bag; and indeed, if you google “amici,” you will be informed that the name may refer to a girly bag. But Marcopoloni, like Campomaggi, isn’t interested in confirming other people’s conventions (which is part of their charm for this metaphysician). So I decided to look harder at this bag.
It had all the makings of a great man bag. It zipped tight; it had pockets on the outside for phone and keys; it was somewhat narrow, making it sit on the hip (for older men) but could ride next the buttocks (for younger, who don’t mind bringing attention to their buttocks). Best of all, it had generous handles, so the bag could be scooped up from the car seat or the seat next to you at the bistro when your lady friend just happens by.
So, Emi had to be alerted! Manbag sighting on website, but . . . . the Amici was being presented as a lady’s bag, or so it seemed to me; it had cousins on the site that were definitely lady’s bags, even by Campomaggi’s liberal standards (their lady’s bags are indisputably womanly). But could the Amici be both! The Amici is, after all, a Campomaggi bag.
After doing research, Emi agreed it could be a manbag. A new issue arose: in Marcopoloni’s holdings there were two versions (you are warned that Campomaggi bags tend to be one-of-a-kind). One version, in black, was definitively horizontal. Another version, in distressed cognac, was almost square. The difference was genderish, or at least I persuaded myself of this (and I hope someone will challenge this). The more vertical in cognac was worth a try.
And it has been tried and tried again. First, my Amici became the model for a new blog banner; even photoshopped, it holds its own. My Amici is like Wallace Stevens’s jar in Tennessee: “The wilderness rose up to it, / And sprawled around, no longer wild.” The blogosphere is indeed the new wilderness, and I hope my new blog, under the aegis of my Amici, will create a space for itself.
Second test: I recently used the bag on a trip to Bath, UK, where we stay at The Abbey Hotel and confront the grandchildren, at this point limited to Mary Elizabeth of the “terrible twos” and her younger sibling Frederick Emmanuel D’Evelyn, whom I have nick-named Il Presidente, and his lion-like roar bids fair for his living up to that handle. The Amici, if not quite defeating Mary and Freddie’s capacity for creating wilderness wherever they venture, at least reminded me throughout that one must not take appearances as definitive, that experience is constantly challenging stereotypes, and that the most we can hope for is that, in the end as in the beginning, love conquers all.
Bags personify our condition amidst universal change, of personal wandering in an open universe: this is the romance of bags as I understand them. On this trip, the Amici is my bag, and my bag is “literary,” so it will not be amiss to remove from its back pocket a haiku written on the spot: