FrontRunners: Fair Leather

  • Elizabeth Helman Minchilli

Sometimes the marks of quality are obvious: the radiance of a diamond or the sheen of a mink coat. But other indications of refinement are subtler: the aroma of a white truffle or the feel of cashmere against the skin. The exquisitely crafted leather items made by Valextra (+39.02.76000103, www.valextra.com) clearly fall into the latter category. Valextra was founded in 1937 on the idea of combining the techniques and skills of master craftsmen with refined design. After 66 years, Valextra has become not only a Milanese tradition, but a thriving modern enterprise that maintains and defends the art of the handmade.

Each object—from the calfskin change purse to the parchment-covered suitcase—is crafted by hand. While a few new pieces are added to the collection each year, classic items—such as the Compasso d’Oro briefcase (which dates to 1954 when it took Italy’s top design prize)—remain popular. If, for some reason, you can’t find exactly what you want, just make an appointment with the company’s su misura, or bespoke, staff.

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