Neo Made in Italy

How a Florentine bag maker is honestly sustainable

In Italy the story of successful brands is always closely linked to the people who run them. Look at Giorgio Armani who at 87 still sends collections down the runway, which stand for his simple elegance. Or Oscar Farinetti who made Eataly a global success giving agricultural Italy a worldwide audience and Massimo Bottura who not only has three Michelin stars but feeds the poor with his soup kitchens worldwide. The small Florentine bag maker Il Bisonte is another case in point. Run by Luigi Ceccon the company excels in making the best leather bags by sticking to the highest standards of environmentally friendly practices. Ceccon is not your typical fashion executive but more of a free spirited thinker who ended up in the luxury business. To keep Il Bisonte a local production operation with a global digital outreach is his mission. Coming up with a new Made in Italy is his calling.

Il Bisonte craftsmanship

Il Bisonte just celebrated 50 years in business and for the occasion Ceccon commissioned artist Felice Limosani to create a star shaped vegetal installation, which was given to the city of Florence as a gift. 50 oak trees were sourced all over Europe so they be exactly six meters high and thirty years old and then planted in an open field next to the Palazzo di Giustizia, a massive architectural sin which landmarks the Florentine skyline. The star shape is in reference to Dante’s Divine Comedy where the pentagon is mentioned in Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise verses. Florence’s famous poet celebrates his 700th anniversary in 2021 and Ceccon found this an opportune moment to align his 50th anniversary with a project, which gives back to the Florentine community absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Installation by Felice Limosani shot by Massimo Sestini

This is how things are when they are well done in Italy. You celebrate roots, community and the environment, three aspects dear to Ceccon who is an unusual CEO in valuing honest business practice over consumption marketing. While even some famous Italian brands manufacture outside Italy, Il Bisonte allows only for a strict 30-kilometer radius from its impressive Palazzo Corsini headquarter by the Arno river for its artisans to be located. The work force of around 500 craftsman and artisans who work directly for Il Bisonte were paid their full salaries during lockdown when work came to a stand still and Ceccon even paid them their annual bonus. He wants to grow the company organically and has just invested around 2 Million Euros for an ambitious digitalization of Il Bisonte. The company now also starts advertising like a full page in the WWD Pitti special showed. The campaign was shot in Florence supporting local trade and has a laid back Tuscan life style vibe, which clients from all over the world aspire to.

Palazzo Corsini

Made in Italy

SS22 Campaign

Ceccon showed us his personal bag when we interviewed him in his office, a 30-year-old brown treasure (see title image) which looks like he bought it yesterday. A manifest to the extreme quality of the Il Bisonte product which has scores of fans in Japan where all things Tuscan are revered and Il Bisonte has a network of 50 shops. Ceccon is upbeat about the future and sees value in the popularity of the new Squadra Azzurra which impresses at the Euro 2020 at the moment. He believes optimistic social cycles are ushered in by periods of success in sports which are identity-defining moments for a country.

Luigi Ceccon

Il Bisonte shop in Florence

Taking cues from the farmer Yacouba Sawadogo who successfully planted trees in the desert and is a United Nations ambassador is more interesting to Ceccon than to go to a luxury industry conference. Il Bisonte’s leathers are all chrome and metal free, mostly vegetable tanned and recently a bio cowhide which is 100 percent recyclable and compostable has been introduced.

Il Bisonte’s leathers