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Destination Florence: The Beating Heart of the Finest Leather

Destination Florence: The Beating Heart of the Finest Leather

Last Updated on September 16, 2017

As you walk around in Florence, you’ll notice much of the city’s beauty and it’s inevitable you’ll see many leather goods set around. Leather is one of the main markets in Italy, and with good reason. The tradition of leather ensures that every product, like jackets or handbags, is made to be high quality and good-looking with cutting-edge designs. There are so many great leather goods out there, you might just have a hard time choosing! And leather is something that will never go out of fashion – on the contrary, leather is having a moment – it seems like every celebrity is sporting leather clothes and accessories these days, and every fashion way is presenting new leather fashion.

The Tradition of Leather

There are lots of leather products in Florence of all different types, sizes, and colors. One thing that they all have in common though is that they come from the long tradition of leather in Florence.

The History of Leather

The leather-goods makers in Florence are part of a centuries-old tradition that began in the Middle Ages as a part of the Leather Guild. This guild was a huge part of the Florentine Republic as fine clothing was produced via special tanning. The making of leather goods became so important that it soon was an international venture when Catherine de Medici brought the leather goods to France.


When Florence initially began making leather goods prior to the Industrial Revolution, the process was difficult, and unsavory. It wasn’t until the 1300s that shoemakers moved into the Oltrarno district, and began to form what we now know as the leather industry. By the time the 20th century came around, Guccio Gucci changed the international leather industry with his new ideas for accessories.

Making Leather

In today’s age, the making of leather is much more complicated than it was in earlier times. There are tens of thousands of workers working for the economy in multiple firms before goods are branded as luxury based on how the leather had been treated. There are tons of handcrafted pieces in Florence, too though, so you may need to look more into what constitutes the type of leather you’d like to buy.

Large Business

One thing you should know is that all leather is made to be just about the same quality. Many tanneries have products that come from the same supplier, with stands, shops, and a boutique all from the same business.

The Quality of ‘Made in Italy’ Products

In fashion, Italy is renowned to make products of high quality not only because of the way it was made but also because of the materials that were used. This is why countless people in the world trust a product that has the ‘Made in Italy’ label because they know that they will receive only the best.

Leather Terms

When you’re buying leather, knowing these terms may just help you find the thing you’re looking for:

  •         The term “real leather” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s high quality, just that an animal skin was used
  •         “Made in Italy” can mean that as little as 33% of the product was actually made in Italy
  •         “Italian quality” is what you want to look for. This ensures that your leather was treated and dyed using traditional Italian techniques

To Spot Quality

To find the best leather, the best thing you can do is to feel the leather. It should be soft to the touch, and squish in your hand. It should pop right back while still feeling lightweight. Smelling it will do nothing, and a lighter or match won’t tell you anything either.

To test the quality, look at all the stitching, try it on, and be sure it’s soft and wearable on your skin.

If you’re buying something like a handbag, try the same process on bags like the Vivien Mini Leather Bag from Bidinis Handbags, which are known to be high quality. This will give you something to compare your future leather handbags to.


The leather industry in Florence has been blossoming ever since it began centuries ago, and has not ceased to output quality products for people all over the world. When you’re in Florence you may feel overwhelmed at all your options, but not to worry. Look for some quality products, and know your terminology and history to find the best leather product.